Gay Grapes

by Jim Provenzano
Sunday Jun 8, 2014

Beautiful countryside and delicious food and wine will be enjoyed by hundreds at the fifth annual Gay Wine Weekend, June 13 through 15 at various Sonoma County wineries.

Next Friday through Sunday, guests will enjoy wine and culinary delights, music and dancing in a beautiful private estate vineyard, along with VIP Receptions, wine tasting excursions, a champagne brunch, wine auction and pool party in one of the most famous luxury wine destinationssaid

Co-producer Gary Saperstein said that this year more visitors will attend than ever.

"We took the leap to host hotel Macarthur Place," he said. "With 64 rooms, it sold out over two months ago."

To accommodate the event's growing popularity, organizers reserved a block of rooms at the nearby Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn, which is a mere two blocks away.

"The event is getting a name for itself nationally," said Saperstein, who noted that about 30 percent of this year's guests are from out of state. "People are coming from Chicago, Florida, and New York."

Saperstein said that fans are a combination of both wine officianados and tourists seeking a scenic escape. "Wine country in itself is such a destination," he said. "What a better exposure to it all than to be with tours?"

Along with great food and wines, a few celebrities will be in attendance. Colt Studios brings a few of its hunky models each year, and this time popular redhead muscle stud Seth Fornea and his partner Jared will attend.

Included in the entertainment is a series of special VIP shows in the speakeasy-styled Red Room at Raymond Vineyards with RuPaul's Drag Race star and San Francisco nightclub hostess Honey Mahogany.

Prices vary for each event, meal, tasting and tour. A special $400 VIP package allows access to nearly all the events. The general party pass for $195 includes the four major events.

"Last year we had about 600 guests," said Saperstein. "We're expecting the same amount, perhaps a little more. But that was over the whole weekend. Not everyone goes to every event." So expect ample room at each of the various parties and dinners.

The signature event is the twilight tea dance, which Saperstein said has moved to Raymond's Vineyard, a new location. "We're mixing it up a little bit," he said of the popular outdoor party where patrons enjoy a beautiful Sonoma sunset, and this year, with a few food trucks nearby.

Out in the Vineyard hosts other events throughout the year, including the always popular Wine Train Tour of gay-owned Sonoma wineries ( With luxury -and limited- accomodations aboard a train, the event sells out months in advance. The next train tour will be in March 2015.

Other events include the Big Gay Grape Stomp Harvest Party in October, where, yes, guests get to stomp grapes barefoot in barrels, (just like that famous I Love Lucy episode), an exclusive South African wine tour, and Out in the Vineyard also hosts private weekends from spring through fall.

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