It’s tomato time! Next Saturday, September 10, is the 15th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, now sold out. The popular event, which draws crowds from all over California, is a celebration of all the wonderful tastes of Sonoma County, with heirloom tomatoes as the focal point. Those lucky enough to have snared tickets will have 5 hours to feast to their heart’s content on a multitude of tomato-inspired gourmet dishes prepared on the spot by leading chefs and by dozens of local fine food purveyors and Bay Area top restaurants. All of them will use freshly-picked heirloom tomatoes supplied by Kendall-Jackson and, in many cases, K-J olive oil and wine too. And then there are the tomatoes themselves−genetically unchanged from one generation to another−heirlooms offer the intense flavor prized by gardeners and gourmets. Central to the event is the “tasting tent”−a large tent with long tables holding dozens of plates of delicately vine-ripened sliced heirloom tomatoes organized by color/type−all of them are grown in the Kendall-Jackson’s extensive gardens. This year, there will be over 150 varieties to sample including some Sonoma County favorites such as Brandywine, Green Zebra, Stupice, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano, and Cherokee Purple and, along with these, many unfamiliar varieties. There will be a tomato growing contest, too, for gardeners to show off their prize heirlooms and have them judged by looks, flavor and texture. Mia Brown, from Lodi, cleaned up last year hauling off 6 of 18 awards given. Her “Green Doctor” won the
Cherry and Currant division and went on to win Best of Show−the Golden Trowel− and she also won the White and Green division and all three prizes in the Paste division. For those who enjoy the thrill of a live demo, there will be a chef competition featuring Kevin Gillespie, a contender on Bravo’s hit show “Top Chef“.
Stay tuned to ARThound for a tomato-centric interview with Kendall-Jackson’s executive chef Justin Wangler who will head the K-J culinary team in this culinary extravaganza.
Details: Saturday, September 10, 2011 • 11am – 4pm, Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, California 95439, information: 707.571.7500
TICKETS– This year’s festival is completely sold out, but make sure to check Kendall-Jackson’s webpage in May 2012 for information and tickets for the 16th Annual Festival in September 2012. Tickets, $65, are pre-sold only (3,000 are available) and will be available online at www.kj.com, or at the Kendall Wine Center itself or the Healdsburg Tasting Room.
Directions: From Highway 101 going NORTH, take River Road exit. Come to stop light and turn LEFT going over the freeway. Travel approximately 1 1/4 mile to first stoplight, which is Fulton Road. Turn RIGHT at Fulton Road.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Center is less than 1/2 mile on the LEFT side of the road. (If you go over the Hwy 101 overpass on Fulton, you’ve gone too far.)
From Highway 101 going SOUTH, take Fulton Road exit. The FIRST driveway on the right is the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center.