Landmark Vineyards Gingerbread Winery Contest Entry Brings Hospitality to the Sonoma Valley


Landmark Winery Gingerbread

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Landmark Vineyards, 101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, CA 95452. Tel:707-833-0053


Can anything be sweeter than gingerbread during the winter holidays? Yes, say the vintners in Sonoma Valley, who have taken their love of good food, fun and friendly competition to new heights with their Gingerbread Winery Contest. Concocting some of the best recipes, then shaping fresh-made gingerbread into spectacular miniature winery creations, they invite visitors to view their handiwork and vote on the best designs.  Candy cane windows, sugar-coated trees, blue icing lakes and marshmallow snowmen planted on coconut snow are a few of the touches that delight guests who venture out to participating Sonoma wineries for this annual event that quickly became a favorite in less than a year.


The stakes were high when Gingerbread Winery Contest was first introduced in 2006. Landmark Vineyards took home the award for best Gingerbread Winery after applying information from the actual blueprints used to construct their Spanish mission-style winery facilities. You would expect nothing less from the likes of architect Gavin Holzapfel, who co-owns the winery with his wife, Deana. Shown above is Landmark's entry for the 2007 contest.

Getting by with a little help from their friends, Landmark Vineyards proprietors decided the event would be even sweeter with the added touches of Becoming Independent, a non-profit agency offering vocational skills for independent living. Disabled individuals in the program were given helping hands, through “hand over hand instruction” from staff members who assisted clients place finer details such as candy rocks, flowers, and window casing placements on the gingerbread structure. The organization's staff and Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Becoming Independent, Leah Ronald, enjoyed learning about gingerbread houses and especially like the fact that all items placed on the entry had to be edible.


The contest, itself, was initially created as a light-hearted contest between two friends. Word of the concept quickly spread and the event became the Gingerbread Winery Contest.  From the chefs who bake the gingerbread (it took 30 pounds of gingerbread to make the creation shown in the photo above,) to the staff and community partners such as Becoming Independent, many are impressed not only by the creations, but by the teamwork that goes into making a gingerbread structure.


Judged on appearance, creativity, difficulty and precision, the buildings must be made entirely of hand-made gingerbread. They can be built to any size or scale, and Landmark's entry is big. In addition to the large sum of gingerbread, it took over four weeks, 60 lbs of royal icing and 10 pairs of hands to build the edible winery. Chocolate graham crackers were used for roof tiles, fruit roll ups for windows, and sugar cones and green belt sour candy for Christmas trees. A beautiful, snow covered vineyard was created with pretzels and royal icing.


In addition to seeing the Landmark Vineyards masterpiece on display, you can sample and purchase wines that make great gifts for Christmas. The first place winner of the Gingerbread Winery Contest and the winner of the raffle will be announced on January 8, 2007.


Other participating wineries include Benziger Family Winery, Castle Vineyards & Winery, Chateau St. Jean, Cline Cellars, Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, Kaz Vineyard & Winery, Landmark Vineyards, Nicholson Ranch, and Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery.


Another special gift you can give during the holidays is support for a worthy organization. Becoming Independent serves nearly 1,100 people throughout Sonoma, Napa, and Solano Counties. Becoming Independent provides services to any person with a developmental disability who asks for them, regardless of the level of their disability. Becoming Independent teaches people how to cook, work, read, pay bills, balance a checkbook, resolve a difference, groom, change a diaper, ride public transportation, talk to a teen-and so much more. Becoming Independent provides opportunities to gain the skills needed to be a valued and valuable member of the community.



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