Every spring, the lively sounds of mallets clacking, glasses clinking and guests laughing signal the start of Sonoma-Cutrer’s Chardonnay and Croquet events. The popular annual tradition is held on the winery’s pristine croquet greens once a month through summer.
The only winery in the world to boast professional quality croquet lawns, Sonoma-Cutrer plays host to the country’s best croquet players every year at The North American Open. And while the talent level at Chardonnay and Croquet may not be quite as impressive, the event offers plenty of spirited fun – along with fabulous Chardonnay.
If you can’t make it out to Sonoma-Cutrer for croquet this season, consider hosting your own event. A fun change of pace from a backyard barbecue or traditional dinner party, the game is a great way to encourage your guests to interact, and a little competition can liven up any gathering.
Croquet is, after all, a social sport. While it dates back to the thirteenth century, when French peasants knocked wooden balls through wickets made of willow branches, the game didn’t truly take off until the 1870s. Popularized in England, it was the first game that men and women could play together outside – generally in a lovely garden setting.
Not sure your guests will know how to play? Don’t sweat it. Loosen up your friends with a glass of wine, and allow ample practice time. Then split everyone up into teams of two or three, and have each group come up with a team name (mandatory – this is the fun part). Keep things simple with an easy-to-follow game of “golf croquet.”
Games should only take around 30 minutes, so you can easily host a little tourney.
Between shots, keep the competitors fueled up with cheese, crackers, dried fruit and nuts. As for beverages, nothing compliments this warm-weather activity better than a nice, crisp white. We’re partial to Sonoma-Cutrer’s Russian River Ranches and Les Pierres Chardonnays, but any nice white will do.
So break out the wickets, don your traditional whites (or don’t – as long as you’re comfortable) and uncork your favorite Chardonnay for a little alfresco fun.
For the complete rules on setting up and playing your own croquet game, please click here.