Top 3 Holiday Things to Do

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Napa Valley & Sonoma County

by Robert Farmer

1. Yountville Festival of Lights

The week of Thanksgiving is always a good time to find yourself in Yountville. And not simply because you could turn your family's Thanksgiving dinner into a three-star affair (the town is rightly proud of its unprecedented six Michelin stars). Rather, the week Thanksgiving is the traditional kickoff of Yountville's annual Festival of Lights. Now in its 21st year, the Festival of Lights is one of the most popular wintertime attractions in the Napa Valley. The tiny town comes to light with thousands of twinkling bulbs artfully tracing the buildings and foliage. The decorations are the backdrop for the cast of strolling carolers, elves, and townsfolk, transforming Yountville into a sort of wonderland--great for families ad couples in love (or hoping to get there). To complete the picture, hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage (weekends only) and soak up the seasonal atmosphere. Meanwhile, shops stay open later and the world-renowned restaurants amp up their own version of holiday cheer. The dozens of area wineries also participate, offering special pourings and pairings. Check out www.napavalley.com for  tips on where to stay.

2. Rutherford Passport Weekend

Winter months call for big reds and when it comes to big red wines it is tough to beat Rutherford, in Napa Valley. The Rutherford Passport Weekend, December 5-6, is an ideal opportunity to explore and enjoy the Rutherford Appellation, home to such biggies as Peju, Provenance, Rubicon, and Round Pond. The Passport Weekend event allows visitors to experience the participating wineries in an insider-y way, with special barrel and tank tastings, food pairings, and one-on-ones with winemakers. This is a festive weekend designed to inform as well as entertain, and there's no better time during the year to get to know Rutherford.
More information: www.rutherford-appellation-wineries.com/

reindeer.jpg3. Healdsburg Wine Country Christmas Party
The town of Healdsburg may be one of the most idyllic wine country locales year-round. But at the holidays it takes on an otherworldly charm. The Healdsburg Wine Country Christmas event - actually a series of events, is held ongoing through the month of December. The chic and charming small town - imminently walkable - is aglow with holiday cheer throughout the month, with sidewalks and shops adorned with lights and decorations. And during the month, most restaurants and shops get into the action with special sales and programs. Among the highlights of the Christmas Party are the Strolling Dine Around, a four-course progressive dinner and tour featuring Healdsburg's celebrated eateries, on the weekends of December 9-10 and 16-17. Other events include a Family Santa Party on December 12, and a Victorian Inns Holiday Tour on December 13. Things conclude on January 2 with the annual Fruitcake Toss. Events range in price from no-charge to $85.
Date: Saturday December 13th; Time: 2:00pm - 6:00pm; Phone: (707) 433-6935

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