The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 48 of 148

48 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 SAN FRANCISCO BAY provided a cerulean blue backdrop for an afternoon of Pinot Noir, old-school rock and roll and a plethora of pork dishes during EPIC Steak's annual High on the Hog tasting, which benefits Guide Dogs for the Blind. EPIC Steak Wine Director Petra Polakovicova spearheads the event, which over the last four years has raised in excess of $40,000 for the care and training of guide dogs. "We're getting bigger and better every year, and this year was our biggest yet," said Polakovicova. "We had five different restaurants and 22 wineries on hand to welcome 300 guests and volunteers." Now in its eighth year, the event began as a showcase for seven to ten wineries from the Sonoma Coast and quickly expanded to include the Russian River Valley and Los Carneros. Polakovicova had three wineries from Oregon—Nicolas-Jay, Penner-Ash and WillaKenzie— participating this year, along with several up-and-comers, like Napa's Samantha Sheehan of Poe. From Carneros, Anne Moller-Racke's Blue Farm label was poured side by side with Donum, and the sommelier winemaking community was represented by Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth's Russian River–sourced Lost & Found and Raj Parr's Sandhi from the Santa Rita Hills. Volunteers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, local puppy clubs and the guide-dog community help staff the well-attended event. Active guide dogs and their partners, along with a pack of vest-wearing puppies and their raisers, proved to be the stars of this dog-friendly event. "We are so grateful for EPIC Steak's ongoing generosity and their support of our mission," said Christine Benninger, CEO and President of Guide Dogs for the Blind. "The proceeds from the High on the Hog event contribute to the care and the training of our guide dogs and puppies and truly makes a positive difference." According to Benninger, Guide Dogs for the Blind has over 2,000 active guide dog teams across the United States and Canada. "All of our services are provided free of charge and the organization receives no government funding," she said. "Our work is made possible by the generous support of our donors like EPIC Steak and volunteers." Polakovicova's passion for Pinot Noir may have been the inspiration for the event, but in describing her rescue dog and devoted companion, Pipo, she said, "There's no love like the unconditional love of a dog." Of Hogs and Dogs EPIC STEAK'S EIGHTH ANNUAL HIGH ON THE HOG BENEFITS GUILDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong { causes } Poe owner and winemaker Samantha Sheehan poured her refreshing 2016 rosé. GuildSomm's Geoff Kruth, MS (left) pouring Lost & Found, a wine he began making in 2010, along with Gregory Condes of Condes Wine. Surrounded by guide dogs in training, EPIC Steak Wine Director Petra Polakovicova enjoys some unconditional puppy love.

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