Shone Farm celebrates release of new wines

Claire Tillinghast, Staff Writer

SRJC’s Shone Farm Winery will be hosting an evening filled with free food, wine tasting and music Saturday, May 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate the release of four new wines and to jumpstart the farm’s wine marketing program.

“It’s a very children friendly event,” said James Stephenson, student representative of the Agriculture 98 program. “There’s going to be music and a slideshow along with two continuously running Powerpoints. The presentation will be on the student activities at the farm itself and the type of work we do in the wine program and in the agricultural program. It should be very interesting and illuminating.”

The farm, which spans 365 acres, is located just 12 miles away from the SRJC campus. It is used by SRJC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources departments to give students hands-on experience and learning opportunities in areas such as viticulture, wine studies and sustainable agriculture. Three SRJC paid interns are currently working fulltime with Chris Wills, a faculty member in the SRJC wine studies program and the winemaker at Shone Farm.

This will be the farm’s second annual spring wine release. The new wines include a 2010 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, a 2010 Rosé of Syrah, 2009 Pinot Noir and a 2009 Chardonnay. “These are delicious wines prepared on the farm by SRJC students,” Stephenson said. “We will be sampling all of the wines, including possibly a barrel tasting.” Admission is free, though donations to support the SRJC are welcome. The wines will be accompanied with light hors d’oeuvres made by local culinary legend Anne Vercelli.

The event will be hosted inside the farm’s new pavilion, paid for through donations by many community members and in a large part by Gallo winery. The four million dollar facility opened about six years ago and includes an indoor horse rink, a winery and a huge professional kitchen.

“It’s a beautiful location. We’ve got a horse farm, a vegetable farm cows, chickens, pigs and just everything you’d find on a beautiful farm,” Stephenson said. “It’s a close visit for most the people that live in the Santa Rosa area, and it’s just very interesting to see the multitude of things the Agriculture and Wine department is doing out in the countryside.”

Like many other SRJC departments, the Agriculture and Wine departments have faced considerable budget cuts. “We’ve lost 33 percent of our classes, Stephenson said. “We are really hurting, but we really need to keep this facility going because of the agricultural nature of Sonoma County and the importance of the SRJC programs, which are one of the few wine and agriculture programs offered by junior colleges in the whole country.”

Fortunately Shone Farm Winery is capable of giving back to the college. “The wine program actually has the potential to bring in money,” Stephenson said. “We do produce vegetables and meat that’s occasionally sold, but they fundamentally will be economically losing programs.”

The event will be held at Dutton Pavilion, 7450 Steve Olson Lane in Forestville, California. Most of the varietals range from $15 to $25, and all wines will be available for purchase at a special spring release discount.

“It’s great drinking for our coming up hot summer months that we’re going to have here in Sonoma County,” Stephenson said. “I think a Rosé, Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc could accompany any of your barbecue dinners, especially chicken and fish. You should come on out and give it a try and we’ll see if we can entertain you for the afternoon. I expect a good turnout and for people to really enjoy themselves.”