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Leading the way in Wine Country

  • Girl & The Fig owner Sondra Bernstein with John Toulze, executive chef. (CONNER JAY/The Press Democrat)

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend launches its weekend of events this Friday with a trio of honorees in the spotlight: Phil Coturri, owner of Sonoma's Enterprise Vineyards, is the honorary winegrower chair; the Gallo family with its E & J Gallo Winery arm in Healdsburg is the honorary vintner chair; and Sondra Bernstein, owner of Sonoma's Girl & the Fig, is the honorary culinary chair.

The honorees are chosen because of their commitment to their craft and their community leadership.


Get ready to fly down to Rio, as the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend breaks out the samba drums and feathers for a vibrant, Brazil-themed benefit auction dinner this Sunday.

Heading up the team of chefs at this year's event is Sonoma Valley restaurateur Sondra Bernstein, a visionary chosen as the weekend's Honorary Culinary Chair due to her innovation and long-time commitment to the region.

“Sondra has been a leader when it comes to using local ingredients and partnering with local wineries to use produce from the garden,” said Maureen Cottingham, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance, which hosts the benefit event in partnership with the Sonoma County Vintners.

Over the past two decades or so, Bernstein has nurtured a thriving food business anchored by her flagship Sonoma restaurant, The Girl & The Fig, known for its French-inspired country cuisine and wine list of mostly Rhone varietals.

With help from her executive chef John Toulze, Bernstein's expanding “Fig” empire now includes two restaurants and a catering company plus a sharecropped farm at Imagery Estate Winery that produces vegetables for all three.

Along the way, the entrepreneur launched a line of gourmet condiments and wrote two cookbooks: “The Girl & The Fig Cookbook” in 2004 and, in 2011, “Plats du Jour,” which honors the region's food purveyors.

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