Petaluma Drinks offers a sip of all the best beer, wine, spirits and cider

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Whether you prefer beer, wine or whiskey, Petaluma Drinks is a weekend tasting extravaganza, celebrating all the great craft alcohol producers in town. Set for the weekend of June 15-16, this event offers a rare chance to taste all the best Petaluma has to offer, plus visit tasting rooms, several of which are not generally open to the public.

The petalumadrinks.com website is well set up, both for purchasing tickets as well as for navigating through the full weekend of events. The early bird tickets have sold out, but at $65, the regular tickets are still a deal that includes a tasting visit at each and every participant, plus a voucher for one free food item from the centrally located The Block – Petaluma, our downtown food truck park. Additionally, many of the hosts will have special discounts available for those that want to purchase a favorite bottle to take home.

The list of participants covers just about every drink producer in Petaluma. Some you may have visited before, such as our breweries (HenHouse, 101 North, Lagunitas and Dempsey’s), while others are usually only available by the bottle. The event provides a great way to try some of our local specialties without committing to a full purchase. And while some may be serving straight out of their production facility, many will be pouring together in shared locations.

It was through events such as this one that I became a fan of cider makers Acre and Spade and Ethic Ciders as well as spirit producers Sonoma Coast Spirits, Stillwater Spirits and Griffo Distillery. You will also be able to visit downtown’s first spirit tasting room, Barber Lee Spirits, right across the alley from sister Barber Cellars. Other Petaluma Gap winemakers will include Keller Estate, Adobe Road, Azari, Black Knight, Fogline, Karah, Kastania, Leghorn, McEvoy, Sonoma Coast Vineyards and the super exclusive Model Farm. Sonoma Portworks, Sonoma Aperitif, Bitter Girl Bitters and Monarch Bitters will also be sampling their wares.

For those looking to add something special to their weekend, this year’s event has two add-on events, which are exclusive and not available to the general public. The first is “Wet Your Whistle with the Whisper Sisters” cocktail party on Friday, June 14, starting at 5 p.m. at Petaluma’s newest Kentucky Street cocktail bar. Guests will be treated to a tasting flight of cocktails, all made with local spirits from Griffo, Stillwater and Barber Lee Spirits, whic will be paired with some of the house’s best small bites. There will also be live music and guests will be able to check in and get their wristbands for the weekend before everyone else. This event is an additional $45.

On Saturday night (June 15), Stockhome offers a multi-course paired dinner, only available to Petaluma Drinks ticket holders. As a guest at several of Stockhome’s past paired dinners, I can attest to the fact that Chef Roberth Sundell puts a lot of thought into how he pairs his food with drink, making the $88 price worthwhile in my mind. Plus, this is a particularly special dinner because it is not just paired with any old drinks, it is paired with Petaluma’s best.

The meal starts with an amuse-bouche of HenHouse IPA and house-smoked king salmon along with stone fruit, chili and coriander. The first course is mache summer lettuce salad, with sour apple, hazelnuts, summer blossoms and herb granita paired with Ethic Cider’s Gravitude cider. Next up is Muscovy duck breast with confit leg, barley porridge, Wrangeback cheese and tarragon duck jus, paired with a pinot noir from Leghorn. And for dessert, Chef Roberth is pairing Sonoma Portworks’ Aris Norton port along with almond financier (a French almond cake), made with brown butter, huckleberries and simple whipped cream. If you have not tasted Sonoma Portworks’ Norton, it is unlike any other port I have tasted, which at this point, numbers in the several hundred range. It is truly unique, and is one of my favorites. As luck would have it, it’s produced right here in Petaluma from America’s first grape varietal, which is thought to have been first cultivated by Dr. Daniel Norton in the early 1800s and would go on to win the gold medal at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition. (For an interesting read on this, check out “The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine” by Todd Kliman).

Petaluma Drinks’ website also has links for local hotels, many of which are offering special discounts for the event, as well as various transportation options. Additionally, there is a map and a smartphone app available on the site to help you navigate through the weekend of tasting.

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