Award-winning chefs, vintners and local artisans joined together during the V Foundation’s inaugural Sonoma Epicurean weekend. The sparkling event raised more than $2.4 million, with the proceeds supporting research on racial disparities in cancer outcomes and cancer studies led by scientists from underrepresented groups.
The V Foundation, inspired by the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach, has provided more than $290 million to date to support advanced cancer research.
Sonoma Epicurean spanned several days and was held in Sonoma County’s beautiful wine country. “This annual event is the perfect way to spend time enjoying all that Sonoma County has to offer, all while helping find the causes and cures for cancer,” said Shane Jacobson, CEO, the V Foundation.
Thursday, March 31st
The event kicked off with the Epicurean Winery Dinners. Guests indulged in multi-course meals prepared by notable chefs like Charlie Palmer of Dry Creek Kitchen and Hotel Healdsburg, Dustin Valette of Valette and The Matheson and executive chef Jaron Dubinsky of the Montage Healdsburg.
The meals paired antioxidant-rich food (as antioxidants may help fight cancer) with wine offerings from top Sonoma County vintners, including Aperture Cellars, Ramey Wine Cellars, AldenAlli, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars and Williams Selyem.
“It was an honor to showcase our Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays side by side with the unique and purposeful culinary creations of Chef Charlie Palmer,” said Mark Malpiede of Williams Selyem winery. “Hosting one of the wine dinner events was a small but mighty contribution to advancing the battle in fighting cancer and we couldn’t be prouder.”
Friday, April 1st
The weekend continued Friday with a Culinary Artisan Series, a chance for guests to choose from different immersive workshops and other experiences, ranging from foraging, creating cocktails with herbs from your own garden and field-to-table cuisine.
From Garden to Glass Cocktails Paired with Local Artisan Cheeses. Hosted by Janet Fletcher, Planet Cheese and Tara Jasper, Sipsong Spirits.
Through Your Lens at Aperture Cellars with Andy Katz, Sony Artisan of Imagery.
Time for Wine at the Montage. Hosted by Stuart Bryan, Pride Mountain Vineyards and Ginger Turner, owner of Adelion for Sophienwald.
Edible Forage at The Matheson with Chef Dustin Valette and Wine Director Jon McCarthy.
Epic Party at Mayacama Golf Club
The day ended with the aptly-titled Epic Party at Mayacama Golf Club, which again featured Michelin-star and award-winning chefs—and, of course, generous wine pours from Sonoma’s County’s stellar wineries. It was the perfect way to experience Sonoma’s flavorful offerings and gorgeous natural setting—and all for a great cause.
“Sonoma Epicurean was really amazing! The real highlight, for me, was how everyone came together to create such an amazing and successful inaugural event,” said this year’s event Chair Stuart Bryan of Pride Mountain Vineyards.
Saturday, April 2nd
Saturday morning’s offerings were more serious. It started with a Wellness Breakfast, featuring a panel about the role of diet and lifestyle in both preventing and treating cancer. “Cancer knows no boundaries and it knows no appellations. We need to come together and work to beat cancer,” said Bryan.
Next, the EpiCUREean Symposium hosted scientists and researchers. Topics included:
The role of hormones in breast cancer, presented by Dr. Nancy Davidson President & Executive Director, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
The Jekyll and Hyde function of immunity in cancer, presented by Dr. Shruti Naik Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Cancer health disparities, presented by Dr. Otis Brawley Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology Johns Hopkins University.
“A substantial number of people get less than optimal prevention and treatment of disease. If we simply got everyone, all the care a human should get (prevention and treatment), it has the potential to prevent more deaths,” said Dr. Otis Brawley.
GALA Under the Stars
Of course, the V Foundation’s Sonoma Epicurean event wouldn’t be complete without a gala celebration. Guests concluded an amazing weekend with dinner and wine hosted at the stunning Montage Healdsburg, which is nestled among 258 acres of rolling vineyards and oak tree groves.
Guests also joined a spirited auction, with the opportunity to raise a paddle to help generate critical funding for V Foundation researchers.
“It was a true honor to take part alongside our wine country community and the V Foundation; helping to provide a place for all to come together, learn and share the vital work the V Foundation is doing to one day rid the world of this disease,” said Allen Highfield Montage Healdsburg General Manager.
“This weekend was an immersive experience, where we stood shoulder to shoulder with supporters as one team and engaged with the doctors who are on the front lines. This truly was an experience second to none,” said Jacobson.
By the end of the weekend, guests were delighted—and completely full of the region’s finest food and wine.