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In the rolling hills of California’s wine country, far, far away from the ongoing culture wars in Florida, the LGBT community comes together once a year in the spirit of Bacchus. 

Gay Wine Weekend returns to Sonoma County, July 14-16. More than 700 people are expected to attend the festivities, which feature vineyard tours, wine tastings, dance parties and – yes Ronnie – a drag queen brunch.

“The weekend is really about community and connection with food and wine being the backdrop of it all,” said Gary Saperstein, founder of Out In The Vineyard, a travel company that offers exclusive and luxury itineraries of wine country, styled for LGBT guests. 

Saperstein honed his skills in the restaurant industry and after moving to California from New York, he noticed there was little – if any – outreach to gay and lesbian travelers.

“I didn’t understand why nobody was talking to us, marketing to us or doing anything. That was really the impetus,” he said. “Soon after, I realized it was more about agriculture. They are farmers and marketing wasn’t really on their minds.”

Saperstein said he is excited about introducing new venues and experiences in the Russian River Valley to travelers who come back year after year to soak up the California sun and take their taste buds to new heights. A drag queen brunch and auction, hosted by San Francisco queen Ruby Red Munro, winds down the weekend – with no threat of political cancellation. 

“Fortunately, we don’t have that controversy here,” Saperstein said.

Proceeds from the event benefit Face to Face, Sonoma County HIV/AIDS Network. For more information, visit