Recently in Sonoma Category

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Playing in Napa & Sonoma

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Photos by Eric Chazankin

Lucky Penny Productions' Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has been described as stylish, sexy, irreverent, and "Broadway musical comedy heaven." It's based on the Michael Caine-Steve Martin film of the same name from 1988 (based on the 1964 film "Bedtime Story" starring Marlon Brando, David Niven and Shirley Jones.)

Now playing at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa through April 13th. Buy tickets online or call box office at 707.523.3544 ext 1  for availability.

Starting April 25th- May 4th, catch this highly entertaining affair at the newly renovated Napa Valey Opera House, now City Winery! Buy tickets online or call 707.260.1600;

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Ticket prices range from $25-$35 per show and are showing on the following dates at City Winery:
  • Friday, April 25th - 8pm
  • Saturday, April 26 - 8pm
  • Sunday, April 27th - 2pm
  • Friday, May 2nd - 8pm
  • Saturday, May 3rd - 8pm
  • Sunday, May 4th - 2pm
More About the Show:

Directed by Craig A. Miller
Based on the popular 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels centers on two con men living on the French Riviera. Lawrence Jameson (Barry Martin) makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money. Freddy Benson (Rob Broadhurst) more humbly swindles women by waking their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother's failing health. After meeting on a train, they attempt to work together only to find that this small French town isn't big enough for the two of them. They agree on a settlement: the first one to extract $50,000 from a young female target, heiress Christine Colgate (Taylor Bartolucci) wins and the other must leave town. A hilarious battle of cons ensues that will keep audiences laughing, humming, and guessing to the end!


Wine Tasting Itinerary - Sonoma Wine Education

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For most people, a visit to a Sonoma County winery is a unique experience in itself. Not only will you experience the standard wine tasting, you will tour the facilities, get in the vineyard, soak in the views and taste wine right out of a barrel.

Benziger Family Winery
, 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (707) 935-3000
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  • Tasting Fee: $80 Per Couple - Benziger Partners Estate Vineyard Tour & Exclusive Wine Tasting
  • Time: 11:15 AM - Allow 1.5 Hours with tour. Arrive by 11 AM to access tour
  • Experience: Tour is a close-up look at the bio-dynamic and organic practices, as well as the wildlife sanctuary on site. Get in the vineyards and caves! This is a behind-the-scenes tour. Limited to groups of 10.
  • Reservations:  Required for the tour
  • Directions to Next Stop: (Allow 4 minutes for travel)  Drive E (Left) .4 mi. on London Ranch Road, turn L on Arnold for 1.9 miles, L into Glen Ellen Inn & Restaurant

Girlfriends Getaway Month in Sonoma Valley

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Round up your gal pals this March for a Sonoma Wine Country Getaway. Relax with glasses of wine at your fingertips, nosh on delicious food, pamper yourself with massage & spa treatments, shop and sight-see, or just enjoy the luxury of your hotel or resort stay. Whatever you and your girlfriends fancy, Sonoma Valley is the perfect place for a girlfriends getaway. So come hike, bike, sip and swirl - just leave the man out of your plan!

Girlfriends_Ledson.jpgWhere to Stay?
Ledson Hotel is located right on the Sonoma Valley Square surrounded by boutique shops, galleries, restaurants, and some of the best restaurants. It's the perfect place to stay and kick-off your girlfriends escape. Starting March 1st - March 15th, they are offering a luxurious package that includes:

  • Special room rates for girls: $335 for a two-night minimum on weekends (regularly $395) and $300 on weekdays (regularly $350) including a complimentary wine country breakfast. Wine club member benefits apply!
  • A private wine tasting at Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood hosted by a Ledson wine consultant who will be there to guide you through your private tasting and answer your questions about our wines, winery and family history.
  • 15% off the purchase of a case of wine (excluding Reserve wines)
  • The crescendo--a unique picture taken of you and all your girls in our famous winery bathtub adjacent to our private tasting suite, the most striking souvenir you will ever take home.
CLICK HERE to book your room!


Upcoming Sonoma Valley Events:

  • savorSonomaValleyPoster.jpgSavor Sonoma Valley - March 15-16th
  • Join twenty-six wineries throughout Sonoma Valley this March where you can meet winemakers, mingle with wine lovers behind-the-scenes, peruse art from local artists and listen to live music. Sample wines straight from the barrels, taste new releases and taste award-winning wines with culinary creations prepared by local chefs and restaurants.
  • More Details.

  • 80's Pop Up Dance Party at Suite D
  • What better way to celebrate a night out with the girls than a Flashback Friday 80's Dance Party with Uzette from Alice 97.3? Featuring scrumptious complimentary nibbles by the girl & the fig, Crisp Bakeshop selling some of their favorite goodies, Sigh Champagne and Sparkling with a no host Bubble Bar, and with DJ Tanoa spinning those throwback beats, it's sure to be a good time.
  • More Details

  • Trashion Fashion Show - March 22nd
  • See outrageous, beautiful, theatrical and humorous fashions created from recycled materials. This is where art, fashion, and ecology come together and put on a great show! See fashions created out of discarded drinking straws, bottle caps and even bullet casings.
  • More Details

Guide to Mother's Day in Wine Country

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There are a host of activities to make Mother's Day a special occasion in Wine Country this year. Treat her to brunch, take her wine tasting, or go to a show!

Travel Tip: If you are planning to spend Mother's Day in Napa Valley, be aware that the town of Napa is host of the Bottle Rock Napa Valley Music Festival (May 9-12th) and is expecting close to 40,000 attendees! Plan on lots of traffic and expect delays. To see street closures, download the WineCountry.com mobile app.


MomDaughter.jpgTake Your Mother to Brunch!

  • etoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon (Yountville, Napa Valley)
  • Enjoy a splendid five-course menu expertly paired with Chandon sparkling and still wines this Mother's Day. Menu selections include liberty farms duck confit, pan roasted spring lamb loin, roasted beef tenderloin, spiced valrhona chocolate pot de crème, and meyer lemon vacherin. Children's options also available. Reservations Strongly Recommended. (888) 242.6366

  • Lucy's Restaurant at Bardessono (Yountville, Napa Valley)
  • Bring your mom to Lucy's Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono to enjoy a wonderful Mother's Day brunch. The menu will feature delicious dishes, such as Executive Chef Victor Scargle's Duck Confit Hash, brioche french toast, and refreshing cocktails such as the Yountville Spritz. Reservations Recommended. (707) 204.6030

  • Flamingo Resort (Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Enjoy a Mother's Day Champagne brunch buffet at the Flamingo Resort. This event will feature unlimited complimentary Champagne and mimosas; a feast that includes items like, orange spiced french toast, traditional eggs benedict, buttermilk chicken breast, slow roasted turkey, and much more! Plus, there will be a full dessert table with assorted fruit tarts and mini pastries. Click Here to view full menu. Reservations Recommended. (707) 532.4745
  • Santa Ynez Valley Marriott (Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, CA)
    Treat your mom to the extravagance she deserves with Santa Ynez Valley Marriott's Mother's Day Buffet featuring a grand selection of dishes at both chilled and hot stations and a decadent dessert bar (Cherries Jubille & Bannanas Foster, Chocolate covered strawberries, assortment of cakes, pies, and petit fours, Champagne, and more!) Reservations recommended. (805.688.100). Click Here to see other memorable ways to celebrate Mother's Day in Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country.
  • Depot Hotel Restaurant (Sonoma, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Join Chefs Antonio and Michael Ghilarducci for Mother's Day Brunch! Enjoy a lavish feast complete with Champagne or mimosas upon arrival and bask in the sun on the patio or in the garden room. Menu will include items such as: grilled prime sirloin steak, poached pacific salmon, porchetta, housemade limoncello cake, and bittersweet chocolate decadence.Reservations Required. (707) 938.2980

  • Nectar Restaurant at Hilton Hotel (Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA)
  • Nectar Restaurant, located at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel, will offer a Champagne brunch and family portrait with special gifts for all moms and moms-to-be. Reservations Recommended. (707) 569.5525

>> Visit our events calendar to see more Napa Valley and Sonoma restaurants that will be open this Mother's Day. Click date (May 12th), desired region and filter "holiday".

Sonoma International Film Festival: Sneak Peek at Films!

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Don't miss one of the hottest film festivals in Wine Country. The Sonoma International Film Festival (April 10-14, 2013) is presenting over 100 films, including 7 Premiere films, shown at 8 venues, all within walking distance of Sonoma's historic plaza. Add to this cinematic splash, world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners, all making the Sonoma Film Fest a top-notch epicurean experience few film festivals in the world can match.

Time is running out! Click Here to buy your Film Passes.

See a sneak peek at some of the films being shown this year!

ICEMAN - Opening Night Film at Sebastiani Theater on April 10th. Film stars Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans and James Franco and follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men. Director Ariel Vromen and Ray Liotta will be in attendance.

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FLIMMER (aka Flicker) - Something strange is going on in the small town of Backberga. The town's former pride, the telecommunications company, is now on the brink of ruin. Its put-upon employees are about to make one last attempt to modernize the firm when they discover that something is lurking on the outskirts of town. A power failure sets off a chain of events that will change everything for the town's residents. Two screenings, 4/11 at 9:15pm in the Vintage House and 4/13 at 4:45pm in the Vintage House.

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A YEAR IN BURGUNDY - This film is an exquisitely beautiful documentary that takes you through the course of a full wine-making year, from the first bud on the vine to the final pressing, barrel-aging and bottling in the Burgundy region of France. Director David Kennard and film subject Martine Saunier will be in attendance. One screening only, 4/11 at 6pm in the Sebastiani Theatre.


Wine Tasting Itinerary: Healdsburg Stars

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $15 Per Couple. 
To keep these kinds of offers, buy a couple of bottles that you enjoy! (*Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com)

On your way to Healdsburg, stop off at:

Korbel Champagne Cellars
, 13250 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446, (707) 824.7000
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  • Complimentary tastings - 20% off wine purchases!
  • 10AM- Allow One Hour or relax a while longer
  • No Reservation Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: SE on River Rd for 2.3 mi., L on Westside and stay on Westside (R at Fork) for 12.2 mi., R on Kinley Dr, 1st R on Magnolia

Hop Kiln Winery, 6050 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433.6491
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  • $14 Per Couple - HKG Collection
  • 12 PM - Allow One Hour
  • Purchase wine and cheese in the tasting room and enjoy a picnic on the front lawn by the pond with wines by the glass or bottle
  • No Reservation Required

Celebrate Romance & Valentine's Day

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livermorePromotion.jpgRomance doesn't have to be celebrated just one day. With Valentine's Day falling on a Friday this year, it's the perfect excuse to plan an extended romantic weekend with the one you love. Let us help you plan! Call 707.260.0721 for our Guest Services to recommend the perfect plan for where to go wine tasting, where to stay, play and eat.

There's a dizzying amount of specials and activities around In Napa Valley and Sonoma this year to celebrate the season of love! Click below:

>> Napa Valley, CA
>> Sonoma County, CA

Romantic Retreat to Sonoma Wine Country

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Special Events & Things To Do During Valentine's Day
*Updated for 2014!

Celebrate romance and love this Valentine's Day in Sonoma Wine Country with special dinner reservations at Sonoma restaurants & winemaker dinners at Sonoma wineries. In addition, enjoy wine tasting experiences (chocolate and wine pairings), cooking class with your sweetheart, or dance the night away in the arms of the one you love at Rodney Strong Vineyards.

VALENTINE'S DAY DINNER RECOMMENDATIONS

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  • Applewood Inn 
  • Have a lovely dinner with your sweetheart in a rustic and romantic setting that balances warmth and elegance at Applewood Inn. Michelin Starred Chefs Shelly Cerneant and Tyja Taube are preparing a special menu that includes entrees like confit pork belly, oven roasted halibut, grilled fillet of beef tenderloin and much more!
  • Dry Creek Kitchen
  • Experience a romantic evening with your loved one at Dry-Creek Kitchen this Valentine's Day. Executive Chef Dustin has created an exquisite tasting menu using a variety of fresh and local ingredients. Courses include Wild Salmon Tartare with Avocado Mousseline, Preserved Lemon and Lavash Hearts and Nori Roasted Maine Lobster with Ponzu Butter, Yuzu Powder and Jade Rice.
  • Partake K-J
  • Indulge your senses with a special Prix Fixe Menu! Explore a wide range of wine flights to satisfy your curiosity and thirst. Dive into a selection of seasonal bites driven by our gardens and Sonoma County's culinary artisans.
  • St. Francis Winery
  • Celebrate with great wine and food at St. Francis Winery as Executive Chef David Bush creates an exquisite menu for you and your special someone. Share an intimate candlelit experience, with each tantalizing course expertly paired with our premium Artisan Series wines. There's no place quite as romantic as the rolling vineyard-covered hillsides of Sonoma Valley!
Click here more dinner recommendations.

Olive Season in Sonoma Wine Country!

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The grapes are harvested, crushed, and sitting pretty in barrels and tanks. In the meantime, Sonoma Wine Country has turned it's attention to "Olive Season"! 2012 was a great year for grapes and olives alike. Watch Chris Benziger (of Benziger Family Wines) talk about the abundant olive harvest they had this past year.




Celebrate the Season of the Olive (January/February)
Only 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma is the most-down-to-earth slice of heaven around, its lush farmlands, rolling vineyards and historic towns lost in a time all their own.
The vibrant heart of Sonoma Valley provides a central backdrop for key Olive Season events.

Event Highlights:

Watch Video


Wine Tasting Itinerary: Pinot Day in Russian River

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $69 Per Couple. To keep these kinds of offers, buy a bottle or three! (*Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com.)

Inman Family Wines
, 3900 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 293-9576
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  • $10.00 - Waived with purchase
  • 10:00 AM - Allow One Hour
  • No Reservation Required Thursday - Monday
  • Directions to Next Stop: R on Olivet for 1 mi., R on Guernerville Rd for 2.8 mi., R on Hwy 116W for 3 mi., R on Martinelli Rd

Wineries Open for Thanksgiving in Napa Valley & Sonoma

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Wineries & Tasting Rooms Open on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013 in Napa Valley, CA

  • Castello di Amorosa - Open 9:30 - 4pm,  (707) 967.6272
  • Cosentino - Open 10am - 3:00pm, (707) 921.2809 ext 2
  • Del Dotto - St. Helena Location ONLY - Open 11am - 4pm (707) 963.2134
  • Elizabeth Spencer - Open 10am - 4pm, (707) 963.4768
  • Girard Winery - Open 11am - 3pm, (707) 968.9297
  • Hagafen Cellars - Open 11am - 4pm, (888) 424.2336
  • V Wine Cellars - Open 10am - 3pm, (707) 531.7053
  • Van der Heyden Vineyards - Open 10am-3pm, (707) 257.0130
  • V.Sattui Winery - Open 9am - 3:00 pm, (707) 963.7774

Wineries & Tasting Rooms Open on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013 in Sonoma County, CA

  • Carneros Brewing Company - Open 10am - 5:30pm, (707) 938.1800
  • Cline Cellars - Open 11am - 3pm, (707) 940.4061
  • Jacuzzi Cellars - Open 11am-3pm, (707) 931.7575
  • Porter Creek Vineyards - 10:30am-2pm, (707) 433.6321
  • Roche Winery - 11am - 2pm, (707) 935.7115

Sonoma Holiday Events Guide 2012

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holidayInCarneros.jpgNOVEMBER

Nov. 17,18, 2012 - Holiday in Carneros
Sample wines, meet winemakers, listen to music, pair wines with food, and view arts and crafts all at the same time. With nearly 20 wineries participating in this annual event, Holiday in Carneros in Sonoma should be on your to do list.This unique event involves both Sonoma and Napa wineries that are located in the Los Carneros Appellation.
CLICK HERE for more details.

Nov. 23, 2012

  • Heart of Sonoma Valley Open House - Toast the Holiday Season in the Wine Country with our 29th Annual Holiday Open House! Join twenty wineries for this annual celebration and enjoy wine tastings, meet winemakers, mingle in our caves & cellars, stock up on your favorite wines for the holidays, pick up holiday gifts for your friends & family and relish in wine country holiday cheer! CLICK HERE for more details.
  • Ledson Winery Holiday Open House - Join Heart of Sonoma Valley Wineries for our 29th Annual Holiday Open House. The Castle will be decked with holiday twinkle and plenty of cheer. Warm up by one of our fireplaces while you enjoy a variety of gourmet treats paired with our award-winning wines. Begin your holiday shopping in our Gourmet Marketplace; sample original selections of sauces and olive oils.CLICK HERE for more details.
  • Kenwood Vineyards Holiday Extravaganza - Black Friday never looked so good! Come Celebrate the holidays with some bubbly and delicious wines at Kenwood Vineyards' Open House. Start your holiday shopping while being serenaded by carols, sipping on superb wines, and tasting scrumptious treats created by our chef Robin Lehnhoff.  Amazing prices abound for the wine connoisseur in your life.CLICK HERE for more details.

Nov. 25th - Dec 30, 2012 - Sonoma Valley Holiday Wine Trolley
The Holiday Wine Trolley is fully decorated and brimming with garlands, lights, and classic holiday music! Travel through Sonoma's Wine Country viewing historic landmarks from the late 1800′s through the 1930s. The Holiday Wine Trolley Tour visits four premium wineries, where you will taste Sonoma's wonderful wines and take care of your holiday shopping at the same time! The Sonoma Valley Holiday Wine Trolley will run daily, decorated in holiday spirit, playing holiday music and serving hot cocoa. CLICK HERE for more details.

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Spooktacular Fun in Wine Country

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See a small sampling of events happening in Napa Valley, Sonoma and Livermore in celebration of Halloween. Visit WineCountry.com's full event calendar HERE.


castelloDiAmorosa_paganBall2.jpgNAPA VALLEY EVENTS

October 27th - The Pagan ball at Castello di Amorosa
Kick off your Halloween weekend at the biggest and best party in the Napa Valley -- our 5th annual Pagan Ball; a traditional Halloween costume party with lots of tricks and treats! Activities will include:RIP Reception(tickets purchased seperately), 'Haunted Chamber' Tours, Video DJ & dancing in the Great Hall, To Die For food & wine stations in the Courtyard, Fortune Tellers in the Chapel, Haunted Haybale Lounge on the Terrace, and Professional Photo Ops! CLICK HERE for more info.

October 27th - Halloween Extravaganza at Napa Fairgrounds

What has become a Napa tradition, this year will be our 37th Annual Extravaganza. This blow-out costume party is held at the Napa fairgrounds.  Held the Saturday before Halloween, this is the largest party of its kind in Napa County and serves as one of our fundraisers. Guests are entertained with live music, enjoy access to an open bar and a casino hall.
CLICK HERE for more info.


SONOMA EVENTS

October 27th - Zombie Party!
Put on your best costume and join Chateau Diana Winery for a Zombie Party.  Watch as the undead take over our Tasting Room.  We will be having ghoulish food, music, and door prizes paired with our blood red Zombie Zin.  Zombie Costume contest with awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  Will it be a Trick or a Treat?  You decide!
CLICK HERE for more info.

October 28th - Halloween at Kenwood Vineyards
Come be a part of the 2nd Annual Pumpkin Judging Contest at Kenwood Vineyards. By doing so, you will receive a pass into the 'Temple of Oak' to taste the new release of the 2008 Artist Series Cabernet. A Tasty Halloween treat awaits your arrival!.
CLICK HERE for more info.



LIVERMORE EVENTS

October 27th - Downtown Livermore Halloween Carnival
Activities for families with children in the 5th grade and younger! Kids will enjoy the Costume and Scream Contest, Carnival Games, Activities and some Surprise Entertainment. Livermore Valley Plaza. CLICK HERE for more info.


October 27-28 - Halloween Candy & Wine Pairing at Cedar Mountain Winery
Come in, if you dare, to try something new! Cedar Mountain is pairing Traditional Halloween Candy with their wines in the Tasting Room this Halloween Weekend. Does it sound kind of spooky? We think you will be delighted with our BOOtiful pairings! Tasting Fees apply. CLICK HERE for more info.




Sonoma: Upcoming Crush and Harvest Events

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sonomaWCWeekend_2012.jpgSEPTEMBER

September 1 -- Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

Kate MacMurray invites you to enjoy an afternoon of informative and entertaining wine seminars, lively cooking demonstrations and so much more make for an enchanting afternoon enjoying the best of Sonoma County living.
Location: 9015 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448; Fee: $195 Grand Reserve/ $150 General Admission; Time: 11am-4pm;
Phone: 888-668-7729

September 2 -- Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction
It's a fantastic feast for the senses filled with world-class wines, culinary marvels and show stopping spectacles - a wondrous combination of Wine Country elegance and South Asian decadence that promises to be an unforgettable experience.
Location: Chateau St. Jean, 8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood CA 95452
Fee: $500; Time: 1pm-7pm; Phone: 707-833-4134

September 15 -- Flavors of Fall at Korbel
Celebration: Join us for "Flavors of Fall" at Korbel Champagne Cellars. Champagne, wine and food Pairings. Special tram tours of the vineyards and crushing facilities. Special discounts offered throughout the Wine Shop. Admission includes a logo glass.
Location: 13250 River Road, Guerneville CA
Fee: $15/$10 Club Members; Time: 11am-3:30pm; Phone: 707-824-7216

Sonoma: Summer Events Spotlight

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AUGUST

alJarreau_RodneyStrongSummerConcertSeries.jpgAugust 11 -- Al Jarreau with The George Duke Trio @ Rodney Strong Vineyards
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series returns with another season of fine food, wine and incredible music. The summer celebration continues with intimate performances by world-class musicians in a stunning vineyard setting. The Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series continues with performances by Al Jarreau & The George Duke Trio. Doors open at 4pm. Location: 11455 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg, CA
Fee: VIP $80 / GA $50; Time: 5:00 pm; Phone: 707-869-1595 ext. 4

projectZinPic.jpgAugust 17 -- Project Zin @ Hotel Healdsburg
This preeminent wine event will gather some of the most sought after Zinfandels paired with the food of Chef Palmer and other local Sonoma County chefs. All proceeds will benefit the Down Syndrome Association, North Bay.
Location: 25 Matheson Street, Healdsburg CA 95448
Fee: $200; Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm; Phone: 707-431-2800

August 23 -- Ledson Winery - Exclusive Tasting & Winemaker Dinner
Winemaker Dinner: We'll begin the evening with a private tasting. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of my most sought-after wines and outstanding futures from both Zina Hyde and Ledson Winery. After the tasting, we'll revel in a magnificent Five-Course Dinner prepared by Executive Chef Anthony Schumaker.
Location: 480 1st St. E., Sonoma, CA
Fee: $125 general/$100 club members; Time: 5:00pm - 9:00pm; Phone: (707) 996-9779


Celebrating July 4th in Sonoma

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fireworks2.jpg*Updated for 2013!

4th of July Celebrations and Parades Around Sonoma County

4th of July Parade and Fireworks on Sonoma Plaza
Sonoma's Fourth of July on the Plaza and fireworks display is a small town festival that makes you feel proud to be an American. Kick off the day with a parade featuring marching bands at 10am and then enjoy  live music, games, and a chance to hang out in Sonoma's historic plaza before the big fireworks show at dusk. Don't forget to try a hot dog or some apple pie. CLICK HERE for more details.

4th Of July Kids Parade in Healdsburg Plaza

Back by popular demand is the Kids' Parade held on the 4th of July. This year's event will be held in Healdsburg Plaza! Highlights, beside the actual parade and prizes, will be pie eating contests, duck decorating, face painting and live music provided by The Russian River Ramblers. CLICK HERE for more details.

Independence Day: Red, White, & Boom

Join Sonoma County Fairgrounds for an afternoon and evening of food, live music, kid's activities, and fun for the whole family! Checkout their fantastic lineup of local bands and enjoy great food from the many local vendors who will serve up specialties.  For the kids, there will a watermelon eating contest, jumpy houses, face painters, clowns and more. CLICK HERE for more details.

4th of July Buffet at Depot Hotel
This year Depot Hotel is your one stop 4th of July party where you can eat delicious food, drink until your heart's content and enjoy a beautiful display of fireworks. The Chef and staff celebrate America's Birthday by putting on a lavish Fourth of July buffet dinner. Best of all, you don't have to leave the restaurant in order to watch fireworks. Depot Hotel is one of the few restaurants in town lucky enough to have the fireworks go off in the air right above the Garden. CLICK HERE for more details.

Give the Gift of Golf!

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Show Dad you appreciate him with the gift of GOLF!

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*Dudes' or Dads' Retreat at Silverado Resort and Spa!
This Ultimate Gentleman's Getaway package offers unlimited* golf for groups of two or four, with accommodations in a deluxe one- or two-bedroom fireplace suite. (Available June 1 - Nov. 17, 2012). Package also includes:

  • Callaway Razr X Rentals
  • 6 Callaway golf balls
  •  Silverado golf hat and shirt
  • $100 spa credit per person for any 50-minute men's treatment (Go Golf Facial, Golfers Massage, or Golfers Reflexology)
  • 100 credit per person for resort dining
CLICK HERE for more details.

Jazzy Summer Nights at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards

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sonomaCutrer_jazzSeries1.jpgSonoma-Cutrer Vineyards will be hosting a new jazz series called "Jazzy Summer Nights" featuring three fantastic Jazz concerts:

Saturday June 23rd The Andrew Speight Quintet
Renowned Australian Alto Saxophonist with his band
"Andrew Speight will carry the music's torch into the next millennium." Wynton Marsalis

Saturday July 21st The Al Molina Latin Jazz Sextet
Legendary Bay Area Latin jazz icon featuring Percussionist Louie Romero

Saturday August 18th Deborah Winters
With Peter Welker's All Star 10 piece band

sonomaCutrer_JazzSeries.jpgMateo Granados will be offering his delicious Yucatan Cuisine from his legendary food truck.
These will be intimate gatherings with limited seating; concerts are 6-8pm. Purchase your tickets now for a fabulous summer of jazz and fine wine before they sell out! Tickets are $35 for each concert and available at www.sonomacutrer.com or by calling 707-237-3489.

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards is located on 400 picturesque acres in the heart of the Russian River Valley and is host to the annual North American Croquet Championships held on world class croquet courts. Sonoma-Cutrer may be the best outdoor venue in Sonoma County to enjoy great music, wine and friends. Do not miss this rare opportunity to hear live music at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards!

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards
4401 Slusser Road, Windsor, CA 95492
(707) 237.3489
Special Tasting Offer


Annual Summer Concerts in Wine Country

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Wine Country is host to several annual musical festivals and summer concerts boasting some of the most popular acts around the country. See this year's line-up, mark your calendars and get tickets before they sell out!



*June 29, 2013 - July 20, 2013
Robert Mondavi Summer Music Festival
The Robert Mondavi Summer Music Festival Now is a highlight of the summer season in Napa Valley featuring top musical acts. This year includes Martina McBride, Lifehouse, Huey Lewis & the News, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, and ZZ Ward and Delta Rae.
Click Here to see full concert details.


*July 10th - Sept. 12th, 2013
Wente Vineyards Summer Concert Series
Wente Vineyards Concert Series is back for it's 27th season with eight stellar performances by top name headliners all set against the stunning backdrop of Wente Vineyrads stunning vineyards. This year's lineup includes "Martina McBride, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Huey Lewis & the News, Counting Crows, Styx, Chicago, Chris Botti, and Reo Speedwagon. More Concert Details.

*July 12-21, 2013
Festival del Sole
Napa Valley Festival del Sole is an annual celebration of the arts featuring world-class music, dance, theater, and of course, incomparable wines and delectable food. Highlights include performances by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Sarah Chang, Russian National Orchestra, and also a series of vintner luncheons, galas, dinners, and much more! More details

*August 3rd - Sept 1st, 2013
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series
An incredible season of fine food, wine and, of course, music is back this summer at Rodney Strong Vineyards featuring intimate performances by world-class musicians in a stunning vineyard setting. Check out the Video!

For more concerts happening this summer, see the regional events calendars.
 Napa Valley Events Calendar , Sonoma County Events Calendar, Livermore Events Calendar

Rodney Strong Vineyards - Summer Concert Series

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Al Green and Huey Lewis & The News to Headline

The 22nd annual Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series returns with another season of fine food, wine and incredible music. The summer celebration runs from June through September with intimate performances by world-class musicians in a stunning vineyard setting.  See the video and complete 2012 lineup below!



Saturday, June 16, 2012
Tower of Power; Craig Chaquico
For over 40 years, Tower of Power has been creating their own kind of urban soul music, led by their tight rhythm section, a horn-driven sound and funky vocals. Over the years, members of TOP have recorded with hundreds of artists such as Aerosmith, Elton John, and Santana. Also performing will be Craig Chaquico, a founding member and lead guitarist for multi-platinum bands Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship.
Doors: 4 p.m./Show: 5 p.m. | Tickets:  VIP $80 / GA $50

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Al Green
11-time Grammy Award-Winner, Al Green, is one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music, selling more than 20 million records over his 40-year career. Recognized as one of the top male singers in the world, Green rose to prominence in the Seventies with hits such as "Let's Stay Together", "Love and Happiness", "I'm Still in Love With You", and "Tired Of Being Alone". 
Doors: 4 p.m./Show: 5 p.m. | Tickets:  VIP $115 / GA $75

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Dave Koz; Bebe Winans
Saxophonist Dave Koz has established himself as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary music. Koz's 2012 album, Hello Tomorrow, debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard's and iTunes' Contemporary Jazz charts, and Dave currently hosts the worldwide-syndicated Dave Koz Radio Show. Opening for Koz is groundbreaking R&B/Gospel vocalist Bebe Winans. Alongside his sister, the duo of BeBe & CeCe Winans have received numerous accolades, including four Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards, two NAACP Awards and a Soul Train Award. Doors: 4 p.m./Show: 5 p.m. | Tickets:  VIP $90 / GA $60

Memorial Day Weekend Events in Sonoma County

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

chateauStJean_patio.jpgMay 26 - 27 -- Chateau St. Jean's Memorial Day Passport Weekend
Memorial Day brings one of our favorite Open House events of the year. Along with many exciting new wine releases, we are offering a relaxed feel in a sumptuous decor.

You'll agree with us when we say: "A visit to St. Jean is like a restorative stay in the French countryside." Come experience the good life!

Location: Chateau St. Jean, 8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood
Fee: Free entry, $15/person, $25/Reserve Wine; Time: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.;
Phone: 707-833-4134

May 26 - 28 -- Tea & Memories in the Rose Garden
Sip organic tea and add a personal message to our Memorial Wishing Tree. Honor a living loved one, or offer a message in memory or even share a positive thought with the world. The tree will fill with these lovely fluttering messages. Last year's inaugural event was a tremendous hit. Enjoy tranquility in the gardens.
Location: Russian River Rose Company, 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg
Fee: $2 donation appreciated; Time: 10:00 a,m. - 5:00 p.m.; Phone: 707-433-7455

May 27 -- Oysterpalooza! @ Valley Ford Hotel
Food & Wine Festival: Spend your Memorial Day weekend on the Sonoma Coast and come see a one of a kind music and food festival. Seven amazing bands on two stages, BBQ oysters, Fried Oyster Po Boys, Red Beans \& Rice, Spicy Crayfish, BBQ Brisket, Local Wines and much more!
Location: 14415 Coast Highway 1, Valley Ford, CA
Fee: $15; Time: 12 p.m.; Phone: 707.876.1983

May 27 -- The Whole Hog @ Tara Firma Farms

Celebration: Shane Valentine is back to launch our inaugural Memorial Day Pig Roast- Puerto Rican style! The whole day will be a celebration with live music. We supply the succulent pig main course, and you bring your favorite side dish to share that serves 6-8, your own plates and flatware for a zero-waste event.
Location: 3796 I Street, Petaluma, CA
Fee: $25/kids under 12 free; Time: 3am-9pm; reservations encouraged;
Phone: 707.765.1202

Hiking in the Vineyards of Sonoma Valley, "Inn to Inn"

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wineCountryTrekking_Logo.jpgWalking, wine and food - what better way to experience the outdoors and the beauty and bounty of the Sonoma Valley?  Based on a centuries old travel tradition in Europe; Wine Country Trekking provides "inn to inn" self-guided hiking experiences in Sonoma and surrounding areas.  Unlike the mountain huts on some inn to inn hikes, Wine Country Trekking treks end each day at a boutique luxury inn.

During the day trekkers either hike through beautiful state parks or meander along country lanes and through vineyards stopping for personalized wine appointments. These appointments include unique experiences, such as visits with winemakers, and cave and mountaintop tours, all while sipping delicious Sonoma wines. Each night there are excellent restaurant choices available within walking distance.  

The best part about a Wine Country Trek is that it is all-inclusive (with the exception of dinners) so just call or click and the perfect active vacation in the Sonoma wine country becomes reality. The next best part Wine Country Treks is that you are with your own group - no strangers and no cars, tour guides, vans or buses!  Their unique system of inn-to inn hiking starts with the Planning Guide, delivered via email and snail mail upon booking with your complete itinerary, including restaurant reviews and a packing list.  After review all you have to do is let them know your restaurant preferences and if you'd like any spa treatments.  Shortly before the Trek their custom Trail Guide is mailed to you with each day perfectly outlined including step by step Trail Notes and waterproof maps.  

Mother's Day Events in Sonoma

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floriaFerrerBrutBottle.jpgMay 13 - Mom's & Music & Bubbles @ Gloria Ferrer
Treat your Mom to a Sparkling Celebration on Mother's Day. Join us at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards for a casual, relaxed afternoon with live music, sparkling wine with cheeses, spreads and desserts to complement your bubbly. Feel free to bring the whole family! Live music by North Bay Singer/Songwriter Dustin Saylor.
Fee: $35.00 general, $29.75 club member; Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm; Phone: 707-933-1931

May 13 -- Mother's Day Tasting @ Valley of the Moon Winery

Moms, stop by Valley of the Moon Winery for complimentary wine tasting and fabulous discounts on gifts and wine purchases. Valley of the Moon Winery delivers a unique flavor of California. They produce ultra-premium Sonoma wines that embrace both time honored wine-making tradition and state-of-the-art production.
Location: Valley of the Moon Winery, 777 Madrone Rd, Glen Ellen
Fee: Free; Time: 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Phone: 707-939-4510

May 13 -- Mother's Day Safari at Safari West
Run like a Cheetah to Brunch on the Sonoma Serengeti. Enjoy a special Mothers Day tour aboard The African Queen along with some other surprises! What could be more extraordinary than spending Mother's Day amongst some of the word's most elegant creatures? Our chef is preparing a glorious champagne brunch featuring delectable selections especially for you.
Location: Safari West, 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa
Fee: $68 for adults; $35 for children (ages 4-12); Time: Morning & Afternoon packages available; Phone: (707) 579.2551 or 800.616.2695

MothersDay.jpgMay 13 -- Mother's Day Plant Sale & Free Corsages
Bring Mom to Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, one the most beautiful places in Sonoma County. Buy her a living gift, take a docent-led tour of the historic Burbank home, and browse in the Carriage House Museum & Gift Shop. Ladies will receive a fresh flower corsage; come early while the supply lasts.
Location: Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, 204 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa CA
Fee: Free Admission/ Historic Home Tour $7; Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Phone: 707-524-5445

Sonoma Spotlight: Dry Creek Valley

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by Courtney Cochran

DryCreekValley_VineyardinSonomaCounty.jpgOrganic farms and Rhône varieties and lots of cycling, oh my! Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley - encompassing 16 miles north-south in Sonoma's bucolic northwestern corner - is a quieter part of the county that beckons with gracious vineyards, welcoming wineries and a rustic agrarian atmosphere that's downright soothing.  Come along as we take a closer look.

Getting There
Dry Creek is easily reached from adjacent Healdsburg and also makes a reasonable day trip from other parts of the county.  Coming from the south, exit 101 at Dry Creek Road and head northwest. Coming from Mendocino and the north, exit 101 at Dutcher Creek Road to tackle the valley from the northern end, heading south. From Healdsburg, access the valley via Dry Creek Road or start at the far southern end of the valley - via Westside Road - if you have time for a longer drive.    

Weather, What to Expect
Dry Creek Valley is one of Sonoma's numerous excellent wine-producing valleys.  Though it is one of those more closely situated to the ocean (it's just about 20 miles inland from the Pacific), Dry Creek experiences significantly warm temperatures during summer months.  During this time, heat necessitates smart warm weather preparation such as taking plenty of water with you, stopping to rest if pursuing cycling or other physically activities, and avoiding excessive sun exposure during peak sunshine periods. Evening temperatures are cool year-round, and winter is cool and wet during the rainy season. Spring and fall offer the mellowest conditions for traveling, and fog can be found in the morning year-round.  
HEALDSBURG, Calif. -- Healdsburg's "Epicurean Winter" heads into its third and final month with events dedicated entirely to pork and pinot noir, consecutive barrel tasting weekends and even a chance to dine, drink and donate to benefit the region's renowned Healdsburg Jazz Festival. The affordable, off-season lodging packages, regional dinner specials and wine pairings that have been a part of "Epicurean Winter" from its January 1 launch continue through March 31 as Healdsburg showcases its culinary bounty.

wineRoad_WineGlassLogo.jpgMarch Highlights:

EVENTS

March 2-4 and March 9-11: Barrel Tasting Weekends
Healdsburg lies in at the intersection of three celebrated appellations - Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, and the Russian River Valley - making it the ideal location for wine lovers to sample some of the best wine in the state. Now in its 34th year, this event gives ticket holders the chance to experience private winery tours, taste new wines from the barrel, and sample tasting-room-only and limited production wines. Special offers available at many participation wineries; some tastings by appointment only. Tickets start at $25; visit www.wineroad.com/events or call 888-251-0560 for details.

March 23-24: Pigs & Pinot 2012 - All tickets to this annual event are already sold out!

Now - March 31: Sonoma Neighbor Menu & Live Jazz
Diners will enjoy live jazz accompanying their three-course tasting menu on Mondays and Tuesdays at Hotel Healdsburg's Dry Creek Kitchen.  $36 per guest, $51 with paired wines; $2 from each menu will be donated to the Healdsburg Education Foundation.  For details, visit us online or call 707-431-1500.

Now - March 31: A Taste of Pigs & Pinot
Dry Creek Kitchen will be featuring a special pork and pinot noir pairings all month; starting March 24, diners will have a chance to order an actual dish from the popular Pigs & Pinot Gala Dinner paired with the official Pinot Cup winner. For details, visit online or call 707-433-1500.

Now - March 31: Epicurean Winter Wine Tour
Healdsburg Area Winery Tours specializes in private wine tasting tours customized to guests' personal wine preferences and destination interests. Mention "Epicurean Winter" when making reservations and receive a 10% discount on certain tours. For details, visit www.healdsburgareawinerytours.com or call 707-433-6090.

Epicurean Winter in Healdsburg: On a Budget?

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healdsburgChamber_sidewalkShopping.jpgThis winter is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with Healdsburg, a charming, picturesque town in Sonoma County which boasts some of California's best wineries and restaurants all ensconced in lush, rolling hills and surrounded by spectacular vineyard views.

Now through the end of March, Healdsburg is celebrating their culinary bounty with the three-month-long "Epicurean Winter," a collection of food, wine, family-friendly and outdoor events designed to highlight the most delicious aspects of this oasis, located just 70 miles north of San Francisco.

What travelers may not realize is how many wallet-friendly options Healdsburg's "Epicurean Winter" has to offer. Even those watching their budget can enjoy the world-class food, wine and entertainment without breaking the bank. Here are some exciting ways that even the frugal visitor can experience the best of this culinary mecca.

Healdsburg Epicurean Winter 2012

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Healdsburg's 1st Annual "Epicurean Winter" Features 100+ Events

Sonoma County's gourmand mecca offers epicurean travelers great off-season rates
and can't-miss events, experiences, and eats

healdsburgWinterEpicurean2012.jpgHEALDSBURG - Sonoma, Calif. -- For the first time ever, the charming town of Healdsburg has united its celebrated restaurants, renowned Sonoma County wineries, and illustrious hotels and lodging partners for "Epicurean Winter," a new seasonal program offering unique culinary events and special lodging packages to attract visitors during the mild winter months.

"Winter is a great time to visit," says Mo McElroy, CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. "Healdsburg is warm, cozy and delicious - the trifecta of fun during winter months. The Epicurean Winter program gives us a easy way to entice people to experience what sets Healdsburg apart - it's a fantastic culinary mecca that remains true to its agricultural roots."

Epicurean Winter runs now through March 31, and includes gourmet events, family activities, budget-friendly options, outdoor recreation, and romantic escapes for Valentine's celebrations.

Ring in the New Year!

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champagneBottles.jpgBring 2011 to an end with a good ol' fashioned wine country BANG! Napa Valley and Sonoma are hosting several New Year's Eve parties to ring in the new year. Check out the list of places to dine, drink and dance into 2012!

New Year's Festivities in Napa Valley
CLICK HERE



New Year's Parties & Dinners in Sonoma County
CLICK HERE



More News from This Year's Crush Season

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grapes.jpgVIDEOS

EVENTS
Crushing in Napa Valley

October 15 -- Havrest Party at Bourassa Vineyards
Celebration: Come and join us for another Grape Stomping Harvest Party at Bourassa Vineyards! Live Music Bourassa Vineyards Wines Napa Smith Beer Roast Pig On site Wood Fire Pizza Kitchen Cigars and Port!
Fee: $75, $40 for wine club members Time: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Phone Number: 707-254-4922


Sonoma Valley Harvest Season

October 22 -- Harvest Moon Lamb Dinner at Gloria Ferrer
Celebration: Celebrate the crush at Gloria Ferrer with a dinner featuring Sonoma County's finest lamb and Pinot Noir. The evening will commence with a full harvest moon rising over Carneros, while our guests sip bubbly from our unparalleled Vista Terrace. Reserve your tickets soon, as space is extremely limited. 23555 Carneros Highway (121), Sonoma
Fee: $95 Time: 6:30 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 933.1999

Around Wine Country
October 22 - 23 -- Hopland Passport Weekend
Wine Education: This year's theme is "Aged to Perfection". With seventeen participating wineries pouring their best wines, incredible food pairings at each stop, and opportunities to experience tours, art installations, and live music, Hopland is the place to be for wine lovers!
Fee: $45/$55 During the Event; Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Phone Number: 800-564-2582

Late Summer Festival Highlights

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Summer days are flying by fast. In a blink of an eye, autumn leaves will color wine country vineyards yellow, red, and orange. Not ready to say goodbye just yet? Neither are we! See some of the late summer festivals coming up this last weekend in August and the month of September.

sonomaCountyPic1.jpgSEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTS ~ BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
September 2-4, 2011 - Sonoma County

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is an Annual Labor Day Weekend Event that celebrates the best of Sonoma wine, food, and lifestyle. "We have created a premium, three-day destination event that celebrates the vineyards, wines, cuisine, culture, and characters that make Sonoma County the ultimate wine country destination," says Executive Director Maureen Cottingham.

Tickets range from $85 to $500 per person and include signature events "Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch, the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction" and a host of intimate and exclusive winery lunch and dinner parties at multiple locations throughout Sonoma County.

All proceeds benefit and support Sonoma Coutny non-profit organizations. To date, more than $10 million has been donated directly to Sonoma non-profits by the local wine community.

>> Buy Tickets
>> See the schedule of events

sonomaCountyAuction_Pic2.jpg

Upcoming Festivals in Sonoma County

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AUGUST
August 27 - 28 -- Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival
Festival: Come to the most joyful, unique celebration of food, wine, beer, art and entertainment in the wine country! Juried fine art and craft marketplace, over a dozen restaurants and catering companies serving a variety of food, with an emphasis on seafood, live music, kids entertainment, wine and microbrewed beer tasting and more. The scenic location on Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Hwy, Bodega CA
Fee: $12 Advance/$15 At the Gate/Under 12 Free Time: Sat 10am-6pm/Sun 10am-5pm
Phone Number: 707-824-8717

SEPTEMBER
September 2 - 4 -- Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Auction, Benefit: The annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Weekend, combining the best of the Sonoma County Showcase of Wine and Food and the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, features more than 200 wineries and chefs over three days of fabulous winemaker lunches and dinners, winery BBQs, grand tasting, and the most fun you'll ever have at a wine auction.
Fee: Varies Time: Varies Phone Number: 800-939-7666

September 10 -- Sebastopol Cajun-Zydeco Festival
Festival: Authentic Cajun food, legendary Zydeco music and dancing under the redwoods! The Zydeco Flames, Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic, Sheryl Cormier with Ed Poullard, Freeze Guillroy & the Bon Temps Zydeco Band Live Crawfish, Gator Sausage, Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee, BBQ chicken & Oysters, Hurricanes, Margaritas, Oyster Shooters, wine and beer. Ives Park, 7400 Willow Street, Sebastopol CA
Fee: $17 Advance/$20 At the Door/Under 12 Free Time: 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Phone Number: 707-823-3971

Wine Country Personality: Bret LeRolland

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The Wine Carriage - Wine Tasting via Horse & Carriage with Gourmet Lunch
Healdsburg, CA


wcPersonality_WineCarriage_Bret.jpgBret LeRolland is no ordinary tour operator. He's a different kind of guy with a different kind of business. The Wine Carriage is the quintessential off-the-beaten-track winery and tasting tour -- from the conveyance itself, a shade-top carriage drawn by two giant draft horses, to the personalized service, local knowledge and preferred treatment that a tour with Bret guarantees.

Riding with Bret and his matched Percherons, Duke and Pepper, is not only a thrill, it's a real backstage look into the world of California wine. He knows the history of the region and its characters, the lifecycle of the vines, climate, geology, and wine. In addition to a certificate in Biological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz, Bret has experience in farming and logging salvaged redwoods with draft horses, as well as crossing several states on horseback.  As he puts it, "I always knew I wanted to work with horses".  But he had to go pretty far out of his way to do it.

The son of a New York City cop, Bret grew up in the Big Apple, often visiting his grandmother in Harlem.  Growing up with such an urban bias, he decided to try something different.  Relocating to the left coast, Bret worked on ships in Alaska before moving to California to study at UCSC, and later attended the California School of Circus Arts to learn Chinese acrobatics and fire spinning.

Up and Away Ballooning - First to Offer Wheelchair Access!

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upAwayBallooning_wheelchair1.jpgWindsor, California - In Spring 2011, Up & Away Ballooning becomes the first hot air balloon operator in the United States to offer wheelchair-confined adventurers the opportunity to soar above the magnificent hills and vineyards of Northern California's Sonoma County. The Pegasus Project's specially-designed and crafted passenger basket, shipped directly from England, will make it possible for those persons who are dependent upon wheelchairs for mobility to literally float above the Wine Country.

Up & Away Ballooning ordered the specially-designed basket from London. The easy access Lindstrand  basket measures approximately 4 feet by 7 feet and can carry a wheelchair rider and up to three others. Without wheelchair, it can accommodate six people. Modeled originally after Lindstrand's 'Glass' bottom basket system, its lowered rail makes it possible for the seated passenger to enjoy more than180-degree visibility.

Mike and Patti Kijak, owners of Up & Away Ballooning made the decision to purchase the wheelchair-accessible basket in response to numerous inquiries from private individuals and travel agents with clients seeking to experience Northern California's picturesque Wine Country from this breathtaking vantage point. 

What Should a Newbie Do in Sonoma?

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redwine.jpgDo you consider yourself a "newbie" when it comes to wine and it's your first visit to Sonoma Wine Country? Then you're reading the right article! WineCountry.com has several resources that will help you start planning your visit:


Speaking of our message boards, see what some of our most knowledgeable members recently said when asked the following about where to go for wine tasting in Sonoma County:

QUESTION
"I am planning a surprise 40th birthday trip for my husband in September. I am staying in Healdsburg. We will be there for 4 days and are not well versed in wines. Can someone suggest some ""must" experiences for us to do. What would be the best wineries for people like us?" - Wascallywabbit (3/24/11)

ANSWERS
"You don't need to be 'well versed' in wines to enjoy wine country, that is the first thing you need to know. Everyone has to start somewhere and lucky for you the folks in Sonoma County are really good at respecting the beginner...at least that has been our experience. . . As far as wineries to visit, my first inclination is to say to take the tour at Korbel. First, it "goes" with such a monumental birthday event ( sparkling wines), and what I have seen about the tour and the facility leads me to think that it would be a great introduction for you."

Partial Snippet from yesilovewine (3/24/11)

Sonoma Jazz +

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sonomaJazz_SherylCrow.jpgWe know where you should be this weekend! Grooving to the smooth jazz sounds of John Fogerty, Sheryl Crow, Gipsy Kings and many more in downtown Sonoma at the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival. This three-day (May 20-22, 2011) annual celebration of music, food and wine promises to be one of the best Sonoma Jazz festivals yet!

General admission tickets are only $60 per person, but why not take advantage of the Patron VIP Passes (3-day or single day)  which include premium reserved seats, exclusive access to the Festival Patron tent with open bars, gourmet catered hors d'oeuvres, dinner & dessert, and an on-site parking pass.

Popular musical artist Sheryl Crow will be performing songs from her 7th album titled "100 Miles from Memphis". The album evokes a time when soul and passion filled the radio waves, when the sweat and joy of a recording session could be captured forever on wax.  It also marks a long-awaited return by the nine-time Grammy winner to the sounds that first drew her to making music. CLICK HERE for a sample off her album to whet your appetite in preparation for the live performance this weekend!

Not only will you have a fabulous time in Sonoma Wine Country, but you'll be helping and raising money for a wonderful cause. Sonoma Jazz + is a non profit organization whose mission is to present and preserve jazz, american and popular music through world-class festivals, performances and education programs. They have developed a partnership with Sonoma Valley Unified School District to specifically to support and enhance local music education in their K-12 public schools. Over $450,000 has been donated since 2005!

Also happening in tandem with Sonoma Jazz + are the Wine and Song events - Wine and Song Around the Plaza Festival held Saturday, May 21st, 1:30pm - 5pm. and Wine & Song New Orleans Brunch, May 22nd, 11:30-3pm. Tickets are $65 per day or $100 for a two-day pass. Both days include a souvenir wine glass & tote, live music performance, 12 wine/champagne/beer tastings and food tastings! See list of participating wineries and line up of musical performances HERE!

So many great choices, but not very much time left. Make definite plans now and buy your tickets online.




Spring Festivities . . .

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wine.jpgWhy drive all over wine country when you can attend one of several wine tasting events in Sonoma and Napa Valley to taste many wines all at once. Add food pairings, live music, and perhaps dancing (some even encourage!)and now things are really swingin'. Save the date or make your reservation now as many Spring and Summer events sell out quickly!

SONOMA

Sonoma Valley Reserve - May 14th and 15th

Bodega Bay Film Festival - May 28th and 29th

Sonoma Jazz+ - May 20-22nd

Single Vineyard Night - June 4th

More Sonoma Events

NAPA VALLEY

Auction Napa Valley - The American Wine Classic - June 2nd - 5th

Upcoming Events in St. Helena

More Napa Valley Events

Flights of Fancy

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sevenstones.jpgEight artistic interludes in Wine Country.

by Sarah Sung

Wine enjoyment and art appreciation have always seemed like close cousins. However, there are some wineries, tasting rooms, and galleries throughout Wine Country that are taking this connection to the next level. New exhibits are opening throughout the region, making sure your next "tasting" experience is multi-sensory.

In Living Color
Gallery Meets Tasting Room at Ma(i)sonry

This historic 1904 stone manor is one of only two buildings in Yountville listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gallery within displays art and artifacts from as far back as the 16th century. "It's as if you have just walked into someone's home, and you are both immediately comfortable and yet immediately intrigued by all that is going on around you," owner Michael Polenske says. "Ma(i)sonry is in every way a celebration of life's aesthetics. Every collection onsite has been created by the hand of an artist, artisan, or designer, and, of course, that includes the wine."

Read More

New Year's Festivities in Sonoma

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champagneBottles.jpgDon't spend another New Year's Eve at home. Sonoma Wine Country offers a host of places to ring in the new year in style! Check a few of the places we've spotted that are sure to host a great New Year's celebration. Join the fun! CLICK HERE for more party hot spots.

Romp with the Beasts @ Safari West
Go wild this New Year's and Romp with the Beasts at Safari West. Brent Farris of KZST will be providing music all night long. Enjoy great food, music and dancing. Want to enjoy Safari West past midnight? Make sure to book overnight accommodations in their luxury safari tents and enjoy breakfast with mimosas on New Years Day. This ferociously fun event is always a sell-out, so purchase your ticket today!
CLICK HERE for more details!


New Year's Eve Countdown Ball at Doubletree Hotel

This year the entire hotel will be dedicated to making your New Year's Eve one for the record books! Antix Events is ramping up the plans for their annual Countdown Ball. With over 22,000 square feet of event space, 4 areas of music, 10 DJ's, and 245 rooms this is one party you won't want to miss. Dressy attire is a must and dress code will be strictly enforced. CLICK HERE for more details.


New Year's Eve Flamingo Lounge Party

Join us in the retro-modern Flamingo Lounge this New Year's Eve! There will be New Year's Eve decorations, a balloon drop, party favors & noise makers, champagne toast, live music and dancing. Please note, this is a 21 and older event.
CLICK HERE for more details.


New Year's Eve Dinner and Dancing @ the Inn at the Tides

Celebrate the beginning of 2013 with a fun and festive New Year's Eve party with a delicious 5-course menu including wine, dancing, party favors, midnight toast and balloon drop.  This very popular event sells out each year so make your reservations early. CLICK HERE for more details!

New Years Eve Celebration @ Hilton Sonoma Wine Country
Join the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country for their Annual New Years Eve Celebration. Fee includes a 1 night stay for two in a standard room with chocolate amenity upon arrival. A five course dinner for two in Nectar Restaurant and entry to the Dance Party in the Sonoma Ballroom. Please note, the event takes place all day and the dance party starts at 8pm. CLICK HERE for more details.
 

>> See Sonoma Events Calendar for more New Year's Eve festivities.

Lift Your Spirits At Jacuzzi's Holiday Comedy Festival

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comedyfestlogo.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

'Tis the season to be jolly, and this December 11th, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards is teaming up with Mutineer Magazine to bring even more laughter to wine country.  An all-star lineup of standup comedians and special guests are flying into Sonoma for the red carpet-style Holiday Comedy Festival at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.  In keeping with Mutineer's aim of bringing fine beverage culture to the mainstream, this event will feature spectacular cocktails from co-sponsor Don Roberto Tequila, nibbles by three of wine country's finest food trucks, and bass-thumping holiday beats to keep your spirits bright.  

Napa Sonoma Wine and Food Festival

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festival.jpgTwo Meccas Unite

The Napa Sonoma Wine and Food Festival celebrates its inaugural event of wine, food, and fashion. The event brings together world-renowned winemakers, celebrated chefs and industry insiders for a medley of signature events designed to entertain, educate and inspire! October 16th, 2010. See below for more information or CLICK HERE


Hugging the Coast, Sonoma Style

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By Robert P. Farmer

No matter which wine country you're referring to, describing it as 'beautiful' is usually accurate. But in California, there is a region that has an edge on all others. The Sonoma Coast, hugging the left side of the continent, has features that no other wine region in the world can duplicate. With rugged beauty and bucolic charm, rolling hills and sweeping water vistas, the Sonoma Coast is unique and impossibly gorgeous. It's a special part of the world. The fact that world-class wines are also produced here gives it an almost unfair advantage. Quaint small towns, tucked-away state parks, and excellent spots to find good wine and great food characterize the Sonoma coast. From Bodega Bay to Mendocino, Jenner to Fort Bragg, there is no shortage of postcard-perfect spots to stop and settle in for a while. With abundant recreational opportunities, historic points of interest and of course world-class wineries, the Sonoma coast surely beckons you to live life on the edge.

Smart Cycling: Russian River Rides Benefit Charity (Aug. 21)

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biking_DCV.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

This much we know to be true: You love wine and know it goes down best in a beautiful setting.  Still, pairing both (read: vino and stellar Wine Country backdrop) with a charitable cause - not to mention a little healthy exercise -makes your vinous experience that much sweeter.  It seems that Russian River Valley winegrowers are onto your sentiments, since they're offering two wine-themed bike tours August 21 to benefit Bicycles for Humanity.  Led by renowned local vintners and chefs, the scenic rides are part of the weekend's Grape to Glass festival, which aims to showcase the gastro-artistic assets of this dynamic Sonoma region.

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend Sonoma Style!

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sonomalogo.jpgThere's no perfect way to celebrate Labor Day Weekend then with a wine food extravaganza in Sonoma Wine Country. The fun starts on September 3rd with a lineup of great winemaker lunches and dinners held at wineries throughout Sonoma County. Then gear up for the signature Taste of Sonoma event on Saturday, September 4th at MacMurray Ranch. It's a wine lover's and foodies paradise like no other.

Finally, top off your weekend with the annual Sonoma Valley Wine Harvest Wine Auction. If you're in the know, you've already gotten your tickets because some have already begun to sell out! If you're looking for an unforgettable weekend, then CLICK HERE to buy tickets.

More details about the weekend, when you read more.

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.

Visiting Sonoma Valley, CA

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SONOMA VALLEY, CA - Visiting Sonoma Valley wine country has a calming aura in the air that speaks to the senses. The rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and charming towns invite you to linger and take a casual stroll down the street, dine at a host of eateries including bakeries and cheese shops, wine taste at several wineries or wine bars, or window shop at an array of funky boutiques. These are just a few of the treasures that lie ahead. See what WineCountry.com has unearthed for you and start planning your Sonoma Valley trip now!

Travel, Taste, and Things To Do
The Unexpected on Sonoma Square
Wine Tasting in Kenwood
Romance in Glen Ellen - Where to Stay
Off the Beaten Track in Glen Ellen
Sonoma Valley Summer Events
Best Spots To Eat!
Insider Tip on Where to Golf

Getting Married?

Sonoma Wine Country Wedding Guide
Request Wedding Info



Unearthing the Unexpected On the Sonoma Square

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sonomasquare.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

It happens to everyone at some point--you find yourself in wine country on a sunny afternoon, and everything seems like you've seen or done it a million times.  Wine tasting? Sigh... nothing could sound less appealing.  Artisanal cheese and bread?  Snore.  Fortunately, there are plenty of more unusual activities hiding in plain view on and around the Sonoma Square.

Sonoma Valley Summer Wine Events

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JULY

  July 17 -- MacRostie Winery Summer Celebration
Celebration, Wine Education: Wine tasting to celebrate the release of our 2008 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and limited bottlings of Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir. Enjoy live music while indulging in incredible wines, local oysters, Cowgirl Creamery cheeses and Della Fattoria breads! 21481 Eighth Street East, Sonoma
Fee: $20/Wine Club Members Free Time: 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 996.4480



July 24 - 25 -- Catalan Festival at Gloria FerrergloriaFerrerCatalanFestival.jpg
Festival: Mark your calendar for our annual Catalan Festival, a celebration of the winery's Spanish roots and the opening of our winery in July 1986. This festival is all about good food, wine and fun, of course, with a Catalan accent. 23555 Hwy 121 (also called Arnold Drive) Sonoma
Fee: $50 Adults/$42.50 Club Members & Under 21Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 933.1999

Golf in Napa and Sonoma

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(4/365) :: Golf Thursdays

Image by chispita_666 via Flickr

By Robert P. Farmer

Spring has sprung and the grass is green and getting greener. Time to hit the greens--and fairways, and the 19th holes. This is one of my favorite times of year. When days stretch longer and temperatures reach higher. Plenty of time and favorable weather to grind out a few holes of golf from among your daily grind. Napa and Sonoma valleys, while known for their obvious Viticultural attributes, are perhaps lesser appreciated for their golf courses. But the valleys are excellent places to pursue your golf passion. And there's always time to enjoy the world class wines as you count up your score.

Napa Golf Guide
Sonoma Golf Guide
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Sonoma Golf Guide

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by Robert P. Farmer

golfBagIstock1.jpgSONOMA COUNTY, CA - Sonoma County offers a wide-ranging mix of golf courses, both public and private. The moderate climate and proximity to the California coastline means conditions are near-ideal from Spring to Fall. Course types vary throughout the length of the valley, from windswept links-style tracks to hilly, verdant testers. Whatever your preference, the most difficult part of the round may be trying to select a course. Here are some Sonoma favorites.

Wine Country Bicycling Tours

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What the Bottle Holder is Really For!

Image by Lance and Erin via Flickr

Forget driving from winery to winery on your next wine tasting trip. What could be more fun then bike riding through wine country. Bike tours are a wonderful way to experience wine country more personally and get exercise at the same time! Put that New Year's Resolution into practice!

See our recommendations for Tour Bike companies in Sonoma & Napa:

Napa Valley & Sonoma Bike Tours
Provides bike rentals to folks staying in Napa or Sonoma areas. They provide several touring options - roll on your own, self guided, guided, or vacation packages. Many do-it-yourself folks like the self guided tours. You can choose how long you want to ride, type of terrain, and number of wineries to visit sans any worries about lunch (it's delivered to you) and any wine you purchase (waiting for you at the end of your trip). Vacation Packages differ in activities, but typically include hotel accommodations . They offer a range of other activities too like mountain dirt biking and kayaking!  Fun for the entire family, group of friends or just a couples getaway.

Wine Country Bike Tours & Rentals
Small shop located in Healdsburg's Historic Riverfront Winery District that offers fleet of road, hybrid and tandem bikes. Perfect for a day of riding in the Dry Creek or Russian River Valleys for casual winery tour or amazing road ride. Several types of tours offered here as well. Past renters have glowing reviews about friendly staff members, quality of bikes, and overall experience.

Not convinced bike tours are the best route for you? Not to fear - WineCountry.com has a host of limo or shuttle tour companies in both Napa Valley and Sonoma to help meet your needs! See listings below.

Napa Valley Tours & Sightseeing Resources
Sonoma Tours & Sightseeing Resources

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The Vines Romantic - February is Great in Glen Ellen

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By Robert P. Farmer

There really isn't a bad time to visit Wine Country. But as you've probably noticed if you have checked in on this space from time to time, I have my personal favorites times of the year to venture among the vines. Being the hopeless romantic type, one of those times is the late winter, when the air is still chilled to a nice wine-storage-like mid-50 degrees, and the vines are hunkered down in dormancy. The mustard is in bloom, covering the fields and vineyards in a dusty yellow that blends perfectly with the winter white sky.

Pigs & Pinot 2010

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pigsPinot2009.jpg
photo credit: Charles Gesell

It's hog heaven again in Healdsburg for another year on March 19, 20, 2010 with the annual Charlie Palmer's Pigs & Pinot weekend. Held at award-winning Hotel Healdsburg, this event  "brings together the country's most prolific pork and wine professionals, including four Master Sommeliers, toasting and tasting their way to determine the winner of the coveted Pinot Cup"

It's so popular that the weekend lodging packages sold out in a mere few hours!  The next opportunity to buy a la carte event tickets is January 21st at 12 noon (PST). Mark your calendars, set your phone alarms and alerts if you want a ticket to one of the hottest events in Sonoma Wine Country.

Read on for a peak at the events lined up for this year:

Driving Range - Three Wine Country Road Trips

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By Sarah Sung

The slightly more adventurous first cousin to the staycation, the road trip lets you unwind while enjoying the best of travel: exploring unknown territory. What better destination than Wine Country, where you can go from wineries to restaurants to hotels--with the freedom to pull off for a hike, bike ride, picnic, or to sit still and simply take in the scenery?

Drive One: Napa
Taking the high road through Napa.

Just an hour from San Francisco is the di Rosa, where art and nature come together. Make a reservation to tour the collection. It consists of 2,000 works of art--showcasing about half that number at any given moment--and is among the largest collections of Bay Area artists in the world. The first hint that you're coming up on the 217-acre preserve will be the sheep metal sculptures on the hillside. Once a private residence, this preserve is now a nonprofit public trust, with a collection so prominent that you'll see pieces from it at the Whitney and Getty museums.
Read More

Off The Beaten Track in Glen Ellen

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chocolateshop.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Glen Ellen is just far enough off the main highway to ensure that its visitors and residents really want to be there. Although only a twenty minute drive from downtown Sonoma, it feels like another world entirely, with rustic country lanes, minimal development, and fantastic owner-operated businesses making the most of the area's appeal. Here are just a few suggestions for things to do (besides visit wineries, of course!) that hit on three of Glen Ellen's main draws:

Winter Wonderland

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Top Reasons to Make Wine Country Your Holiday Getaway
By Robert P. Farmer

FestivalofLights.jpgNAPA VALLEY & SONOMA COUNTY - You can tell by the sheer amount of cars on the road - and the difficulty that you'll no doubt encounter when trying to book a room - that summer is the most popular of seasons in Wine Country. It has the reputation for good reason. But for my money, the holiday season is the best time to visit.

Yes it's colder and yes it can often be rainy and windy. But mostly the weather is abundantly cooperative - a brisk chill in the air, and days bracketed by morning fog and wildly colorful sunsets. The vines are asleep for the winter, having offered up the fruit of their summerlong labor. And while the landscape is less lush and green than during summer time, it has its own unique beauty, one characterized by tangled leafless branches set against a white midday sky.

Barren bucolic beauty aside, the best thing about Wine Country during the winter holiday season is that the place is just so darned festive. Few things are likely to get you more into the spirit than a winery bedecked with twinkling lights and offering Yuletide-themed pairing of their wines. Or, if that's not sufficient, there are entire towns that get into the act with festivals and events infused with enough good cheer to thaw even the most Grinch-y of winter traveler. Rooms are in greater supply, restaurants easier to get into, and crowds are pleasingly thinner and, dare I say, in better spirits. Sure, summer's great, but Wine Country from beneath a coat and warm hat is my idea of a holiday.

Here are few highlights worth exploring this season.

Top 3 Holiday Things To Do
Top 3 Holiday Places to Eat


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

Top 3 Holiday Places to Eat

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Napa Valley & Sonoma County

by Robert Farmer


FARM.jpg1. Farm at the Carneros Inn
During winter months the grounds of the Carneros Inn resort, situated at the southern end of the Napa Valley, is slower paced, more sparsely populated, and graciously beautiful. It's the kind of place where the family can decamp for a few days and retreat from the hustle and bustle of citified holiday madness. The property's signature restaurant, Farm, is the ideal spot for a festive holiday repast. The expansive dining room and adjacent large covered patio centered by a huge fire pit, are the sort of environments that seem to invite spirited social gathering. The mood is casual, unfussy, but nevertheless very chic. And it doesn't hurt that there are simply no misses on the seasonal farm-driven menu of American Wine Country dishes. Throw in a wine list that solidly reminds one of the location, and the makings of a great winter evening are all in place.

*Open for dinner 5:30-10pm Wed-Sun

FARM at Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa
(707) 299.4880
www.thecarnerosinn.com

2. Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg
Just because it seems like everybody knows each other at this always-jammed, always buzzing Wine Country outpost from chef Charlie Palmer, doesn't necessarily mean they do. But the neighborhood feel and congeniality of the staff have a tendency to make every guest feel like a regular. My guess is that one visit won't be enough for you anyway. Because this is the place to be in Healdsburg, and its gravitational pull only increases during the holidays. Whether you visit during one of the planned special Winter Winemaker Dinner series in December, or you make your stop a special event of your own, it's hard to beat Palmer's inventiveness and eagerness to please. The dining room offers many large-group options as well as intimate tables for two--all with views to the open kitchen and action at the bar up front. Tables outside are available, too, and the winter chill can be easily offset with the right vintage.

*Open for lunch
Fri-Sun noon-2:30pm;

Dinner
Sun-Thurs 5:30-9:30pm,
Fri-Sat 5:30- 10pm

Hotel Healdsburg

317 Healdsburg Ave., 
Healdsburg
707-431-0330
www.hotelhealdsburg.com

3. EDK at the El Dorado Hotel
Anchoring one corner of Sonoma Plaza, this lively, friendly Sonoma spot quickly became one of my Wine Country favorites after its opening a few years ago. The large sophisticated-looking room is typically buzzing with visitors and locals alike, who stream in for executive chef Justin Everett's "farm driven" menu. My wife and I, however, returned again and again simply for the amazing black truffle-dusted French fries.  There are of course several other tempting treats on the seasonally changing menu. But the food is just part of the story. The dining room--in terms of both location and atmosphere--is the perfect spot for a festive holiday celebration. With indoor and outdoor seating options and an exhibition kitchen, it's the sort of place where there always seems to be some kind of party taking place, no matter the season. And if you and 20 of your best friends can secure the 21-foot-long wood table in the center of the room, yours will no doubt soon be the party everyone wants to join.


EDK at the El Dorado Hotel
405 First Street West, Sonoma
707-996-3030
www.eldoradosonoma.com

Halloween & Fall Events in Wine Country

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girl2.jpgWhat's your Halloween tradition? Looking for things that go bump in the night, getting lost in a maze of maize, or celebrating the night in scary style? It's the season of fun and whether you're looking for kid friendly or grown up approved, we can certainly point you in the right direction for events near you!

Wine Country Personality: Lisa Neisingh of Firefly Lodge

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lisa_fireflylodge.jpgLisa Neisingh of Firefly Lodge

Six years ago, inspired by the kaleidoscope of natural beauty (mountain peaks, redwood forests and fertile river valleys) of the region, local Sonoma County resident, Lisa Neisingh, bought a riverfront cabin. Located where Russian River and three renown grape growing microclimates (the Alexander, the Dry Creek, and the Russian River Valleys) converge,... just outside Healdsburg, a place known for its world class style and small town charm,... near historic Camp Rose (where Lisa's great-grandmother, Estelle, was the cook in the 1930's),...in the heart of northern Sonoma Wine Country,...there, on the riverbank, you will find Firefly Lodge.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

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sonomalogo[1].jpgWhere Wine, Food and Friends Meet

3 days.200 wineries and chefs. One unforgettable Sonoma experience.

This Labor Day Weekend, we invite you to an epicurean event like no other - Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.

Join us for three unforgettable days of our region's finest wine and food, including exclusive Winemaker Lunches and Dinners, the 30th Annual Showcase: Taste of Sonoma and the 17th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction presented by Trilogy Glass & Packaging. Come to one event, or make a long weekend out of it. The choice is yours!

Of Swings and Steaks

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Golf Getaways for Guys
by Robert P. Farmer


You'll get little argument that California's Wine Country is one of the most romantic spots you're likely to find in the US. The mere mention of a Wine Country Weekend conjures images of a handholding, shop-strolling, cracker-and-cheese nibbling, bubbly-sipping extravaganza. It's a Couple's Paradise.

But what about a foursome? Not talking here about double dating; talking instead about four guys looking for fun in Wine Country -- namely, the kind of fun that can only be found on 18 holes. In addition to the couple's thing and the girl's spa weekend, Wine Country is a great destination for a guy's getaway. In today's world of the metrosexual, the pampered guy is not unusual in these parts. There are dozens of places in the region where men can find their bliss, whether in the mud, the steam, or on the massage table.

An African Safari in Sonoma Wine Country?

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Always dreamed of going on an African Safari, but funds dictate otherwise? Don't fret; at Safari West in Sonoma Wine Country you can experience the wonder of exotic creatures like giraffes, gazellas, zebras and many other animals at a fraction of the cost. As their tagline appropriately says "the spirit of Africa in the heart of the Wine Country".

Your safari escape includes a three hour drive by jeep throughout the preserve and then a trek around the inner grounds. You can also spend the night in a Safari Tent (built on high wooden platforms with spacious decks) or in one of their two bedroom cottages.

Recently featured on ABC7 News as one of the most popular destinations in Northern California:



Safari West is also a great place to take the family and kids too.
CLICK HERE to read "The Kid Stays in the Picture"


Safari West
3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa
(707) 579-2551
www.safariwest.com

Conde Nast Traveler: Top Spas for 2009

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kenwoodSpaCopyright.jpg
Kenwood Inn and Spa - Top 3 Resort Spa in the United States
Conde Nast Traveler 2009 Readers' Poll

If you're planning a trip to wine country, one of the best ways to unwind and relax is with a spa treatment. Conde Nast Traveler released the poll results of readers' top picks for spas across the U.S. and even areas internationally. It's no surprise that many of the spas in Hawaii and California were heavily preferred by consumers.

Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma, CA was one of the top 3 resort spas in the U.S. and received perfect scores of 100 for treatments, staff, service and design. Book a stay with them as they also boast lush surroundings, soothing pools, and elegant accommodations in a Tuscan setting.  Reserve online.

Fourth of July Celebrations Around Wine Country

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Fourth of July is fast approaching. Do you know what your plans are for the three day weekend? If you're staying local and live in California, Oregon, and Virginia, you might want to check out the calender event listings on WineCountry.com. Several towns are hosting parades, firework shows and many wineries will also be open with several celebrations of their own. Read on for some of our suggestions!

Father's Day Events in Wine Country

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fathersDay.jpgDad's typically don't get enough credit for all they do. So why not spend some quality time with your Dad in Wine Country that he actually might remember instead of the usual glow in the dark tie or something equally hideous that he will never wear.

There are a slew of events happening around Wine Country with Father's in mind.  Events range from BBQs, golf, wine tasting to auto shows. Check out what's happening near you!

If you're going the gadget route, some cool wine gifts we mentioned around the holidays will still be perfect as a great gift for Father's Day too!

The Kid Stays in the Picture

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safari_west.jpgPlenty of Options in Wine Country When Traveling Without Children is Not an Option
By Robert P. Farmer

By now you've heard me go on about life changing drastically for my wife and me. This of course can be pinned squarely on a single pair of tiny shoulders. Since our daughter was born in late 2007, our lifestyle of "Wine Country whenever we want to" has morphed in to a lifestyle of "remember when we used to go to Wine Country."

But now that our little one is reaching a stage when she's decidedly more mobile, the result is a family that has become more mobile as well. In fact we have been to Wine Country on a couple occasions in the months between her birthday and now. Those trips, however, were more anxiety ridden than relaxing - is she going to be comfortable in the portable crib? Will she suddenly erupt if we bring her to dinner? We traveled in Defense Condition Red.
By Courtney Cochran

There's nothing like an escape to wine country to reinvigorate friendships and make lasting memories with the gal pals most important to you.  From wine blending lessons to sustainability treks and salsa lessons (not to mention divine food and wine), there's no shortage of delightful diversions to keep you and your gang occupied. 

Wine Country Personalities: Penny & Doug McKesson

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dougMckessonPersonality.jpgMoving from Southern California to Sonoma in the mid 70's, Penny & Doug McKesson never looked back.  Switching gears from running restaurants to owning a small town bike shop, Penny & Doug went to work immediately becoming an integral part of the community.  This culminated in Doug winning a seat on the Sonoma City Council in 2002 and becoming Mayor in 2006.  Over the past 34 years they have developed close friends and relationships which give them access to places in Sonoma that many locals are not even aware of.

Where to Save, Where to Splurge In Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

I can recall, with embarrassing clarity, buying Chuck Shaw by the caseload in the drearily cash-strapped era that followed my graduation from college.  And though I quickly "graduated" beyond the realm of such inexpensive sippers around the time of my first raise, today's tough economic times have many of us - yours truly included - contemplating a reunion with bargain sips like Mr. Shaw's and others of his ilk.

To be sure, the crisis thinking fueling these considerations isn't limited to wine consumption alone.  Wine country visitors, as well, are wondering where they can cut corners on visits in order to spend less while still enjoying their fair share of the pleasures wine country has to offer.  They're looking for easy, smart ways to extend their spending power at a time when all of us are getting by on less.   

And so, in a valiant effort to keep the good times - and the good drink - flowing, we're here to help you do just that.  Read on for our top suggestions on where to save and - as important - where to splurge in wine country this season.    Because if one thing is a constant no matter the economic clime, it's that we can all use a little affordable luxury every now and then to keep our spirits afloat.
By Christopher Nevin Johnston

filmfestBruce.jpgLooking for a good reason to hit the road and relax for a few days?  Well, look no more.  Every spring the Sonoma International Film Festival draws more than 17,000 visitors to the historic Sonoma City Plaza--located roughly 45 miles northeast of San Francisco--for an extended weekend of laid-back film, food, wine, art and music.

Akin to the more scenic film festival locations like Park City or Santa Barbara, Sonoma has all of the natural beauty of its sister fests but--and here's the kicker--is actually an affordable pleasure experience that won't leave you with a bad case of spender's remorse.  From now until February 28th all passes are on sale for 20% off the regular price.  So, if you purchased a basic Festival Pass (valued at $225) you could attend all the regular screenings and panels for only $180!  Let's see the Sundance Kid offer you a better deal....And if your pockets run a little deeper and you would like a more tailored festival experience, Platinum and Premiere Passes will ensure a hobnobbing good time without a bail-out from the Feds.

One Man's Recipe for Romance

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By Robert Farmer

Like most things, romance is a matter of personal taste. One person's dozen long-stem roses and heart-shaped box of chocolates is another person's all-access pit pass to a weekend of NASCAR championships - for two, of course. So when it comes to romance in wine country--on most people's minds this time of year--you'll find as much subjectivity as achingly beautiful garden paths down which to stroll in hand-holding bliss.

Celebrate the Season of the Olive in Sonoma at MacArthur Place

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macarthur.jpgSonoma is known for its wines, but it celebrates another major harvest every year during the annual Sonoma Valley Olive Festival which runs through mid-February. A complete list of events can be found at www.olivefestival.com.
 
MacArthur Place, a luxurious 64-room country inn and spa set on an 18th century estate a few blocks from Sonoma's historic Plaza, is offering a special Olive Festival Package to help partake in the festivities.

Through February 12, reserve an Olive Festival Package at MacArthur Place with rates beginning at $199 per night midweek or $249 per night on weekends. It includes welcome Olive Festival martinis and $25 off a Sonoma Olive Oil Body Polish or any spa treatment at the Garden Spa. For reservations call MacArthur Place toll-free at (800) 722-1866. For more information about MacArthur Place, visit their website at www.macarthurplace.com

Get Thee to Sonoma This Weekend!

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tasteofsonoma.pngBy Courtney Cochran

Hamlet - the Danish prince at the center of the eponymous Shakespearean tragedy - had some fairly significant problems on the brain when he coined the now-famous phrase, "get thee to a nunnery" in a particularly dramatic scene in the acclaimed play.  Happily, those considering heading to Sonoma this Labor Day weekend have much less troublesome reasons to get themselves thither - three food- and wine-filled days' worth of reasons, to be specific.

Sensory Circumstance

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lynmar.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Travelers looking to take their tasting experience to altogether greater sensory heights will find just the thing in Lynmar Estate's brand new Estate Tour, debuting just in time for the summer travel season. Offered at the Russian River Valley winery by appointment only Thursdays and Fridays beginning July 8, the Tour guides participants through a two-hour deep dive into the winery's facilities and operations, concluding with a sumptuous food and wine pairing prepared by winery chef Sandra Simile.

Kunde: Wag-Worthy Winery

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sidephoto_susthike.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

For the second time this year, Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards is going to the dogs. Well, going dog friendly, that is. Following on the heels of Kunde's sold-out canine-themed event in May, the family-run winery will offer a second dog-friendly hike on Saturday, October 18th. The three-mile trek through Kunde's sustainably farmed estate vineyards will cost participants $45 (the fee covers both person and dog) and conclude with wine, a gourmet wine country picnic and water tasting for the pets.

Diary of A Sonoma Film Fest Junkie

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danakim1.jpgI pity the fool who missed the fabulous Sonoma Film Festival Gala celebration last night at Jacuzzi Winery. First things first - Jacuzzi Winery is an absolutely gorgeous venue, replete with a center courtyard that gives way to views of the vineyards and barrel chaix. My friends and I imagined grand weddings for ourselves (once we get that elusive proposal) in such lavish settings sans the gravel parking lot. Note to self: bring an extra pair of walking shoes so as to not break neck in 3 inch heels!

It's Movie Night!

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filmFestKids.jpg

Sonoma Film Festival makes it Easy to Go to The Movies (even for parents!)
By Robert P. Farmer

Once upon a time I went to the movies four times a week. Now, I never go. No exaggeration - four times a week. And seriously - never. These days, if it doesn't come to my house via a little red envelope in my mail, I don't see it. I still see all the good ones, but it's never at the movie theater. It wasn't always like that. I used to be at the theater more days than I wasn't.



Once Upon a Film Festival

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An Epicurean Itinerary
By Courtney Cochran


08film_ElvisAndAnabelleStill.jpgWe're so sure you'll love Elvis & Anabelle - a delightful new flick screening April 13th at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival sponsored by WineCountry.com- that we've designed a custom itinerary around the film to help you take your viewing experience to altogether more hedonistic heights.

Cinematic Highs In Sonoma

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filmfest.jpgThe eleventh annual Sonoma Valley Film Festival (sonomafilmfest.org) kicks off April 9th on the plaza in downtown award - and thousands of festival attendees will gather to eat, drink and take in a full roster of independent and mainstream films against the backdrop of wine country.

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