[caption id="attachment_95661" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Twenty sommeliers from Cuba enjoy breakfast at Ramekins Culinary Center in Sonoma. (photos by Gary Quackenbush)[/caption]
NORTH BAY -- With a primary goal of building lasting personal and professional friendships between the U.S. and Cuban wine communities, 20 sommeliers from the Caribbean island are sampling California wines during a North Coast tour July 20--26.
Called the Cuban Sommelier Summit, this first-of-its-kind cultural exchange was organized by Californians Building Bridges' "people-to-people" program in collaboration with co-hosts the Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners and Sonoma County Vintners.
Since receiving its first humanitarian license in 2010, Californians Building Bridges has led more than 30 exchanges and brought more than 350 American travelers to Cuba for art, religion and musical exchanges.
The nonprofit organization is headed by President Darius Anderson, also managing member of Business Journal owner Sonoma Media Investments, and Executive Director Holly Fraumeni with support from project manager Jennifer Davis.
More than 20 wineries stepped up to offer on-site tours and several others were included at group tastings, such as the Monday morning walk-around tasting with wines from Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Lodi viticultural areas at the Ramekins Culinary Center, followed by lunch featuring Wente Vineyards wines.
Dinners were set at Buena Vista Winery, Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen, Napa Valley Country Club and Beringer Winery.
Special guest speakers have been enlisted to provide Wine Country perspectives, including Geoff Kruth of the Guild of Sommeliers, Michael Mondavi, as well as Ed Gomez of Russian Hill Estate Winery.
[caption id="attachment_95662" align="alignleft" width="160"] Holly Fraumeni, executive director of Californians Building Bridges[/caption]