Gay Wine Weekend Kicks Off Friday

The Sonoma Valley is celebrating Gay Pride Month with activities that welcome the LGBT community with special tributes and tours.

The crown jewel of the celebration is Gay Wine Weekend 2014 Friday through Sunday at various Wine Country venues. Now in its fourth year, the weekend is organized by Out in the Vineyard, a a LGBT travel company run by Healdsburg native Mark Vogler and long-time Sonoma resident Gary Saperstein.

“It’s a celebration of food and wine and the ambiance and lifestyle of Wine Country,” Saperstein said of the weekend. “That’s what we really want to show off.”

Gay Wine Weekend is studded with tastings and tours, winemaker dinners and parties, after-party parties and a recovery brunch/wine auction that benefits the Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS network.

“Over the course of the last four years, we’ve raised about $80,000 for Face to Face,” Saperstein said. “Their goal is to end HIV in Sonoma County.”

Now in its fifth year, the highlight of the weekend – the Twilight T Dance — is moving to Raymond Vineyards in Napa on Saturday night.

The dance floor will host a DJ from New York, and the Red Room will be transformed into a speakeasy starring Honey Mahogany from “Rupaul’s Drag Race.”

“She’s gorgeous and she has a beautiful voice,” Saperstein said. “She’ll be doing blues and standards.”

In 2008, Saperstein and Vogler launched Out in the Vineyard to welcome the LGBT community to Wine Country and to introduce the wine industry to a new niche.

“Beer and spirits figured us out 30 years ago, with Bud Light and Absolut Vodka,” Saperstein said. “The wine industry has never thought about us.”

For tickets to the weekend, go to