One of the best times to visit wine country is during the harvest and this year will be no different! During the sorting, stemming, crushing, and fermentation processes of the grapes, a lot of wineries encourage visitors to engage in the harvest and experience the fun first hand. Here are some of the activities planned for this year's harvest:
"Sonoma Valley Crush (Sept. 8 to 10, 2017)
Experience harvest, hands-on, as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at every aspect from picking grapes, to crush, to fermentation. Interactive fun at more than a dozen wineries across Kenwood and Glen Ellen includes grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, and tasting fresh pressed juices like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. One exciting extra is tasting how a wine evolves while it's fermenting. Cost for a Crush Wine Tasting Pass is $35 ($45 at the door), bringing full access to harvest activities and wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sonoma County Wine Auction (September 16, 2017)
Held at the beautiful new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley, the fundraising gala features fine foods from chef Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co., and executive chef Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And it’s for a great cause: the Auction has raised $24 million for local Sonoma County charitable partners over the years. Mark your calendars for Sept. 15, too, as the auction kicks off with vintner dinners at top wineries across Sonoma County.
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (September 22-24, 2017)
It’s the 120th Anniversary of this party at the Sonoma Plaza. The festivities kick off on Friday, September 22 with a marvelous costume gala with tasting great wines and delicious food followed by dancing under the stars to live music. The fun keeps going throughout the weekend with Sip & Shop – wine tasting and artists showcase of more than 80 artists, a grape stomp competition, fire fighter demonstrations, “Get Your Glow On” Night Parade, live music and a Kids Zone.
Details: 453 1st Street E, Sonoma, 707-996-2109, www.valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com. Tickets for the gala are $90-$125.
Harvest Dinner at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (September 23, 2017)
Go behind-the-scenes on a tour with Mike Crumly, VP of Production, including a food and wine pairing featuring a very special library selection served in the grapevine covered arbor. Then, tuck into a seasonal harvest-inspired and wine paired supper, with live music.
Details: 23555 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-996-7256, www.gloriaferrer.com. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $150.
Harvest Dinner at Lambert Bridge Winery (September 30, 2017)
The winery is Architectural Digest beautiful, with the tasting room looking through a long wall of wood-framed glass into a barrel room glimmering with votive candles and glowing candlestick chandeliers. For the Harvest Party, guests get to go inside the barrel room, and also check out the crush pad, before sitting down to a lavish supper at communal tables on the lawn. It’s posh, with such delights as oyster tasting stations, but also relaxed, sometimes attended to by the very well behaved winery dogs.
Details: 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-4675, www.lambertbridge.com. 5 to 9 p.m.; $175.
43rd Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 6-8, 2017)
This annual event brings so much more than just showcasing award-wining wine and beautiful food. Attractions include educational demonstrations, a cooking competition, expanded interactive tastings, and a focus on local and artisanal products. The highlight remains the Grand Tasting, with three days of sampling from 100+ wineries, including the opportunity to purchase bottles at a Fair-direct discount. Don’t miss the marketplace tasting seminars where you can learn about farming wine grapes, winemaking, and wine appreciation, directly from the winery owners and winemakers. Another don’t miss: the World Championship Grape Stomp for messy fun and great prizes like cold, hard cash.
Details: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, www.harvestfair.org. Prices vary per event.
Landmark Vineyards Harvest Festival And Winemaker Seminar (October 7, 2017)
One of the delights of this lovely 20-acre estate in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains is the tours that give you a sneak peek into the wine process. The strolls last about 15 minutes, passing right past the crush pad, with your guide narrating all along the way and explaining everything from the estate grape varieties, to trellising to winemaking. For this event, you can be the first to try new wine club releases, enjoy delicious food from local vendors, play a game of bocce ball, groove to live music, or just kick back and smell the rosés. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $45. Start the day early, though, at 10:30 a.m., with an exclusive wine and cheese pairing seminar led by Landmark winemaker Greg Stach and cheese expert Sophie Boban-Doering. Learn about rare cheeses from around the world, and how match Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and library selections. 10:30 a.m. to noon; $60.
Details: 101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, 707-833-0053, www.landmarkwine.com.
D'Argenzio Winery and Tasting Room 22nd Annual Italian Country Harvest Party (October 7, 2017)
It’s a taste of Italy in downtown Santa Rosa, as the D'Argenzio family celebrates friends, new and old. The fun includes an Italian feast, a grape stomp, bocce, live music, dancing, and tastings. On tap: many newly released wines, and limited edition wines. Lots of wine, actually - last year, the winery opened 28 different types, yowza! Event time: 4 to 8 p.m.; $45.
Details: 1301 Cleveland Avenue, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466, www.dargenziowine.com.
Dutton-Goldfield Harvest Party (October 21, 2017)
The celebration features new wine releases, food pairings, and an exclusive show by a local jewelry artist. Tastings are $25, or complimentary with a 3-bottle purchase.
Details: 3100 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, 707-823-3887, www.duttongoldfield.com. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.