Harvest Happenings 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Those of us who pop a cork on occasion know these vinous spoils don't arrive from the vineyard ready to drink: There's real work that goes into coaxing wine from vine to bottle.  And each year, come harvest time, proof of this precious labor can be seen throughout Wine Country, as vintners and their trusted teams race against time and mother nature to deliver ripened fruit to the winery - where crush begins and ends within just a few frenetic weeks.  

We'd like to raise a glass to these teams, whose standout efforts allow us to enjoy each vintage's best at a more leisurely pace (cheers to that).  For word on where to go in Wine Country for the best 2010 harvest happenings, read on.
Sierra Foothills
For the 17th year, the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance will host its annual Grape Stomp on October 2.  Revelers are encouraged to wear costumes (seriously) and compete to see which two-person team can stomp the most juice from freshly harvested grapes in three minutes' time.  Held in conjunction with the area's popular Gold Rush Street Faire, it's reputed to be quite the lively affair.  
Calaveras Grape Stomp * (209) 754-0127

Livermore Valley
Over two days this Labor Day weekend, more than 40 wineries will open their doors to host Livermore's 29th annual Harvest Wine Celebration.  Ticket holders are invited to board complimentary shuttle buses, bike or book their own transportation to wineries to take in unique experiences (cooking demo, anyone?), live music, arts and crafts and, of course, tasting.  Bottoms up.
Livermore Harvest Celebration * (925) 447-0433

closlachance.jpgSanta Cruz Mountains
The first Sunday after Labor Day (Sept. 12) will see popular Santa Cruz Mountains destination, Clos la Chance Winery, host an annual harvest party.  Thanks to the spot's gracious hospitality center, expansive patio overlooking a nearby golf course, and on-site Bocce courts, we know there'll be plenty to do at this Bay Area favorite that's just a short drive from Silicon Valley.  
Clos la Chance Winery * (408) 686-1052

Lodi/San Joaquin Valley
On September 26th some 40 local vintners will host the 9th annual Taste of Lodi.  In addition to live entertainment, chef demonstrations, and a Port, Cigar and Chocolate Pavilion - where guests are encouraged to experiment with their own unique pairings - this year's event will feature a day-long Wine Camp on September 25, covering the winemaking process for vineyard to glass.  Sweet.
Taste of Lodi * (209) 365-1195

Lodi/San Joaquin Valley - Family
This September 16th-18th, the Lodi Grape Festival & Harvest Fair will go down - in its impressive 73rd iteration, we might add - to the accompaniment of a carnival, local art and photography exhibits, and viewing of the region's renowned grape and commodity murals.  We think the tagline - "a whole bunch of fun" - perfectly sums up this family-oriented event's potential.  
Lodi Grape Festival * (209) 369-2771

In what could be the granddaddy of all harvest events, this year's Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 1-3) looks to be a veritable smorgasbord of vinous activity.  Encompassing tastes from over 150 wineries, a Grape Stomp comp, microbrew tasting, live jazz, a crafters pavilion, farm animal attractions and other kid-friendly fare, it promises to offer more than a little something for everyone.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair * (707) 545-4200

With an emphasis on the connection between the purveyors of top cuisine and wine and the people who savor them, Harvest Carmel (September 26-27) - brought to us by the same folks who host the luxe Pebble Beach Food & Wine event - will showcase local and regional farmers, cheese makers, food artisans, "rockstar" chefs, and (natch) more than 100 wineries.  As well: seminars aplenty.
Harvest Carmel * (831) 622-7770

In an event that looks to give its Sonoma counterpart a run for its money, Napa's Harvest STOMP (to be brought to us by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Aug. 28) will pair lively music with exhibition-style cuisine, dancing and a live auction.  In all, its promoters are billing the wait-list-only event an "outdoor festival of sights, sounds and smells" - and our curiosity is most definitely piqued.
Harvest Stomp * (707) 944-8311

To celebrate their appellation's birthday, vintners from the Yorkville Highlands - sandwiched between the Alexander Valley to the south and the Anderson Valley to the west - will host a Wine Festival August 14.  According to Facebook, highlights are to include grape stomping (see a theme here?), hoop throwing, local wine tasting, silent auction, and a boar and lamb BBQ.  Yes, please.  
Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival * (707) 895-2341

Rounding out the Wine Country harvest party pack is So Cal's Temecula, which will host a Barrel Tasting Weekend (the 20th annual, no less) at over 30 local wineries November 6-7.  With a mandate that each winery offer barrel or tank samples of wines not yet available to the public - as well as gourmet food pairings - it looks to be a tasty reason to head south come the end of harvest.
Temecula Valley Harvest Celebration * (951) 699-6586

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