Recently in Wine Category

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Northern Trail through Sonoma County

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Be ready for this adventure headed north through Sonoma County. It's a fast paced day to seek out the wonderful flavors of Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and much more!  You can see the winemaking equipment at Arrowood when you drive up to the house. Drink in the artwork at Imagery, as well as their wine. The drive north to Sonoma-Cutrer and Hartford Family Winery is as beautiful as the view from their porches.

Arrowood Vineyard & Winery, 14347 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (707) 935-2600
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  • Tasting Fee: $30 Per Couple - Reserve Tasting
  • Time: 10 AM - Allow One Hour
  • Reservations: Not Required
  • Experience: Incredible view from the wrap-around porch of the winery.  This is one of the few tasting rooms where you can buy wines by the glass and relax on the porch. Ask about tasting their small-production Malbec. It is very hard to find.
  • Directions to Next Stop: .2 miles west on Babb Lane toward CA 12. Imagery Estate Winery is at the base of the driveway to Arrowood Winery

Imagery Estate Winery
, 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (7807) 935-4515
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  • Tasting Fee: $20 Per Couple - Taste 5 of their many wines
  • Time: 11 AM - Allow One Hour
  • Experience: Imagery has a true artist feel to it. Each wine label is different and dons a piece of artwork from different artists. The wines are bodies of art as well. Imagery produces lesser known, but fabulous, varietals. Have you ever had a Cinsault or Barbera? You will! There always seems to be a lot of energy in the tasting room. If you have time, play a game of bocce on the gorgeous lawn.
  • Reservations: Not Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: (Allow 6 minutes for travel) R on CA 12 for 5.1 miles, Café Citti on your L

New to Napa Valley Film Fest - Lifestyle Pavilion

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In it's third year, the Napa Valley Film Festival (November 13-17, 2013) is upping the ante of hip and sophistication with the addition of the swank Lifestyle Pavilion.

nvff-lifestyle-pavilion.jpgThe Pavilion will be centrally located in downtown Napa's Oxbow Market and open to passholders and the public Friday, November 15th - Sunday, November 17th, 10am - 6pm. Experience the latest innovation in cars, technology, and culinary trends; attend film industry panels and cooking demonstrations; and enjoy premier wines at the Wine Pavilion and a chalice or two of Stella Artois. See all the hip details below and if you haven't gotten passes yet, what are you waiting for?! Click Here to buy festival passes now.

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LOUNGES:

CADILLAC LUXURY LOUNGE
See Cadillac's hottest vehicles at the Cadillac Luxury Lounge featuring their all-new 2014 CTS sedan, the centerpiece of the Cadillac line up, that ascends into the heart of the midsize luxury market with expanded performance, elevated luxury, and sophisticated technology.

SONY DIGITAL LOUNGE AND STAGE
Just like Dorothy landing in OZ, your world will burst into a kaleidoscope of vivid colors in the Sony Digital Lounge. Experience the clarity, beauty, and the rich colors of film on a Sony 4K TV. Red, aqua blues, and emerald greens burst from the 4K displays in sharp, realistic fashion.

STELLA ARTOIS
Since 1366, crafting the rich flavor of Stella Artois has been a serious pursuit of excellence. Served in the specially designed Chalice, where every sip is perfection. Thanks to its love affair with the silver screen, Stella Artois supports the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival...and now, the Napa Valley Film Festival.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE STYLE LOUNGE
Come experience the magic of Hollywood through the latest styles and fashions. The beauty of nature juxtaposed with beautiful women...as seen in San Francisco Chronicle's annual wedding issue where such stunning photos serve as a perfect backdrop to Roche Bobois' celebration of exquisite interior design.

Summer Events in Wine Country

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MAY

Funny Girl at the Napa Valley Opera House (May 10-19, 2013)
"Funny Girl" - featuring great songs like "People," I'm the Greatest Star," and "Don't Rain on My Parade," tells the story of legendary singer and comedienne Fanny Brice and her stormy relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein. Lucky Penny Productions' Taylor Bartolucci stars at the Napa Valley Opera House, backed by a 12-piece orchestra. It's the theatrical event of the year! Click Here for more details.

nvoh_FunnyGirl.jpgEchelon Gran Fondo Series (May 18, 2013)
Be apart of the the Italian cycling phenomenon . . .the Gran Fondo! The Gran Fondo is thousands of your closest friends roaming the beautiful wine country on wheels. There are several bike ride course levels but all riders finish in celebration of epicurean delights from local chefs, wine and beer tasting, live music from local bands, and much more. Enter the race or buy a friends and family ticket to take part in the festivities after the race!
Click Here for more details.

granFondoSeries.jpgAmgen Tour of California in Livermore (May 18, 2013)
Livermore is excited to be the host city on day 7 of the cycling race "Amgen Tour of California" featuring elite professional teams and athletes from around the world.  See road cycling at its best, while enjoying the Livermore healthy-lifestyle festival, incredible downtown boutique and luxury outlet shopping, and dining in the award-winning downtown cafes and restaurants. Click Here for more details.

Auction Napa Valley (E-Auction) (May 26 - June 2, 2013)
Wine lovers around the world, from novice to enthusiast, can still get in on the action of this year's sold-out Auction Napa Valley by bidding on the event's global E-Auction. View more than 170 uniquely exciting lots such as unparalleled access to collectable verticals of wine; hand-etched, large-format bottles never to be seen again; hidden cellars; tucked-away winery guest houses; and meals made just for two--or for 30 of one's closest friends.
Click Here for 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".

5 Ways to Uncork Fun in Napa Valley

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Wine tasting, incredible food and breathtaking scenery . . . what more can you ask for when you head to Napa Valley? From girlfriend getaways and guy-only vacays to weekend escapes and family retreats, Napa has something for everyone. Read five ways to live it up and enjoy Napa Valley: 

Meghan-Lamb-Napa-Valley-Oakville-DSC_0044.jpgPhotographer Credit: Meghan Lamb
(1) Walk this Way
Whether Napa is a weekend excursion or a vacation you planned six months ago, wine tasting is at the top of everyone's list. To avoid needing a "DD" or renting a party bus for the day, grab a $25 Taste Napa Downtown card to explore 12 different tasting rooms and wine bars within walking distance of each other. Park your car, take your time, and enjoy the vino without worrying about the next stop on your tour.

ladies_iStock_000004513478XSmall.jpg(2) Ladies Night! (and Daytime too)
Napa Valley is one destination that beckons girlfriends who love to gather, celebrate their sisterhood and sample the grape without the shame and guilt of a Vegas girls getaway. By day, indulge in a soothing spa treatment at many of the spas and wellness centers nearby. Spa Terra located at the Meritage Resort is a perfect choice with their 22,000 square foot Estate Cave spa sanctuary. By night, head to Bistro Sabor for Salsa Saturdays co-hosted by Ceja Vineyards where you can shake what your mama gave you--no cover charge and no partner needed. Just show up!

(3) Just for the Bro's
Trust us, it's not always about MMA Fighting or Nascar when the fellas get together for a guys-only vacay. With more men channeling their inner Anthony Bourdain, food has become the focus for "man-scapes" near and far. Napa Valley is home to more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere in the world and the culinary talents of superstars such as Thomas Keller (French Laundry ring a bell, anyone?). To work off the decadent meals and wine-induced calories, head to Napa Golf Course at Kennedy Park for a few rounds of golf. Or paddle your way through the valley by kayaking on the Napa River.

Calistoga - Mustard, Mud, and Music Festival

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Rock out to your old favorite tunes, enjoy the outdoors, and taste delicious food & wine in Downtown Calistoga, March 9, 2013.

calistogaChamber_mustardMudMusicFestival_mustardFields.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Calistoga Visitors Bureau; Photographer Ivan Miller

The annual Mustard, Mud, and Music Festival is returning to Calistoga. Take in the beautiful views of the mustard decorating the city and enjoy 13 bands, 25 wineries, three art galleries, a wellness center and a variety of restaurants with mustard themed food. This fun event happens Saturday, March 9, 2013, from 12 - 5 p.m. along Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets in advance

Participating wineries include Alienor Wines, Bennett Lane Winery, Canard Vineyard, Chateau Montelena, Castello di Amorosa, Envy Wines, Frank Family Vineyards, Joseph Cellars, Tedeschi Family Winery, Twomey Cellars, Vermeil Wines/OnThEdge, Von Strasser Winery, Zahtila Vineyards/Laura Michael Wines, Ziata Wines and more. 

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
HopKiln_header.jpg
  • $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

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: 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

Napa Valley: Upcoming Crush & Harvest Events

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peju_GrapeStomp.jpg*AUGUST

August 25 -- Roll Out The Barrels
Annual Grape Stomp

Enjoy a European breakfast before heading into our barrel room cellar to taste a special selection of Peju wines. Then head out to the vineyard for our Annual Grape Stomp Competition. Then enjoy Chef Emily's grilled chicken and ribs before the Crowning of the Stomp King or Queen.
Location: Peju Province Winery, 8466 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, CA
Fee: $75 General/$65 Wine Club Member; Time: 10:30am - 1:30pm; Phone: 707.963.3600

CLICK HERE for more August Harvest Events.


*SEPTEMBER

September 15 -- Clif Family Annual Harvest Party
Join Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford for an afternoon of local food, wine, music and art. Wine Tastings, Farm Tours, Food & Wine Pairings, Live Music, Grape Stomping and Local Artisans. Call for more information and to purchase tickets. Tickets are $15 for youth ages 11-20.
Location: 15 Angwin Plaza, Napa, CA; Fee: $50 General/ $25 wine club & CSA members; Time: 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm; Phone: 707-968-0625

September 15 -- Harvest Ball at V. Sattui
Come help us celebrate the Harvest and revisit the culture and cuisine of Italy's best-known region with an authentic and traditional Tuscan banquet combined with Napa Valley hospitality and the finest V. Sattui wines for an evening you will long remember! Chef Osvaldo Baroncelli of Prato Italy along with Napa Valley Chef Shannon Kelly. Make your reservations early!
Location:1111 White Lane, St. Helena CA; Fee: $200 Members / $225 Non-members;
Time: 6 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Phone: (707) 963.7774

Livermore: Annual Harvest Wine Celebration

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livermoreWineHarvestFest_2012.jpgThe 2012 Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration marks the 31st year that people have gathered over Labor Day Weekend to enjoy the fruit of the vines in one of California's oldest wine regions.

Local wineries will offer Livermore Valley's best wine, food, art and music Sunday, September 2 and Monday, September 3 between noon and 5 p.m. Join the fun and festivities and don't forget to purchase tickets early ($55 in advance for 2 day celebration or $65 at the event.

Make it a vacation this Labor Day Weekend in Livermore Wine Country! On top of wine tasting at the festival in Livermore, the Tri-Valley area offers several places to stay and restaurants to dine.. While the ladies do a little shopping or indulge with a spa treatment as the fellas take advantage of the golf scene with courses at Wente Vineyard, Poppy Ridge Golf Course or Callippe Preserve.


Full Flavors of Sonoma County at Taste of Sonoma Event

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macMurrayRanch_TasteOfSonoma.jpgThe full flavors of Sonoma County will be in the spotlight at the 33rd annual Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg, California on Saturday, September 1, 2012 as part of the 5th annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, presented by Visa Signature®. Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch is a day-long event that features more than 170 wineries and 60 of Sonoma County's top chefs and food purveyors as well as a multitude of educational and entertaining events staged at a quintessential, "only in Sonoma" setting.

Kate MacMurray is the honorary host of Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch which takes place on the historic property and vineyard site that her father, the late actor Fred MacMurray, purchased decades ago. Guests are invited to sip and savor while soaking up the experience of the intimate site. MacMurray Ranch is rarely open to the public and tickets should be purchased early as this event has grown in popularity and is anticipated to again sell out.

"In addition to wine and food, guests at Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch can participate in seminars, take a personalized tour of the event with a Sommelier Star, watch the ever-popular Sonoma Steel Chef Competition, luxuriate at the Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge, learn from a pro at the live Cooking Light Grill or elevate the entire experience by going to the newly-expanded Club Reserve for exclusive wine tasting," Maureen Cottingham, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Co- Director.

"SOMM" World Premiere at Napa Valley Film Festival!

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Hotly Anticipated Wine Documentary "SOMM" will World Premiere at
Napa Valley Film Festival, November 7-11, 2012

SOMM Documentary premiere teaser trailer, opening documentary at the 2012 Napa Valley Film Festival from Forgotten Man Films on Vimeo.


The Napa Valley Film Festival will kick off with the world premiere of the documentary feature film SOMM on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. SOMM (slang for "sommelier") follows four talented young sommeliers as they cram for the grueling, notoriously difficult Master Sommelier exam.  The exam - a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world - covers everything to do with the pairing of wine and food on a global level.

 "We are honored to host the world premiere of SOMM," said Marc Lhormer, Executive & Artistic Director of the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF).  "Not only is the content a perfect fit for the food and wine-obsessed culture of Napa Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, but the film itself is a tremendously well-executed, hilarious and compelling thrill ride of a documentary that will appeal to a broad movie-going audience.

In addition to its four engaging subjects, SOMM also includes appearances and enlightening commentary from a who's who of top food and wine personalities, including sommelier Rajat Parr, chef Michael Mina, winemaker Bo Barrett, wine legend Fred Dame, and many others.

Dinner & Movie Night Series

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What better way to spend a summer night then at the movies!  Flora Springs Winery is hosting "Dinner & Movie Night Series" June - October and it's perfect for date night!

floraSpringsWinery_MovieNightSeries.jpg

Share a delicious Lobster Feed dinner paired with Flora Springs wines in their Vineyard Courtyard. Follow it up sitting fireside, sipping wine and watching a movie on the Rooftop Lounge, overlooking the vineyards and the mountains. Of course, there will also be all your favorite traditional snacks to enjoy during the movie.

Movie nights are open to the public but there is limited availability and and advanced reservations are required. Fees: $99 per person; Wine Club Members, $79.20 per person. See list of films below:

June 30th - A Good Year
(view trailer)
Wine and dinner starts at 6:30pm, movie starts at 8:30 pm.

July 28th - The Ways of Wine
(view trailer)
Wine and dinner starts at 5:50 pm, movie starts at 7:50 pm.

Memorial Day Weekend Activities in Napa Valley

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

iStock_oyster.jpgMay 26 -- Spring Oyster Bar & Barbeque @ Sequoia Grove
 Enjoy Hog Island Oyster Company oysters (raw or barbequed), Boudin Bakery soup in San Francisco Sourdough breadbowls and the inaugural release of our new summertime sipper, Rebellious White. Soak in the sunshine as you dine in our newly landscaped courtyard beside our mighty Sequoias and gorgeous flower gardens. RSVP required.
Location: Sequoia Grove Winery, 8338 St. Helena Hwy, Napa CA 94558
Fee: $55/$45 Wine Club Members; Time: 12pm-4pm; Phone: 707-944-2945 x111

May 26 -- Renegade a Tribute to Styx @ Silo's

Renegade returns to Silo's with new music, the best line-up ever, and a new show. Renegade will perform your favorite Rock Classics, including the hits of Styx along with covers from Journey, Kansas, Edgar Winter, REO Speedwagon, Boston, Night Ranger, Doobie Brothers, The Beatles, and much more.
Location: Silo's, 530 Main Street, Napa CA 94559
Fee: $20 Advance/$25 At the Door/$14 Members; Time: 8pm-11pm;  Phone: 707-251-5833

May 26 - 27 -- Wine Country Passport Weekend 2012
Enjoy a boutique collection of four unique tasting experiences this Memorial Day Weekend. At each winery guests will enjoy a private event hosted just for passport holders celebrating "the first sips of summer". Featured wineries include Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Etude, St. Clement Vineyards.
Fee: $50 Advance/$60 Day of Event; Time: 11am-4pm; Phone: 877-847-0058

sterlingVineyards_GreekFestival.jpgMay 27 -- Sterling Vineyards Greek Festival
Not everybody can take a summer vacation to Greece...so Sterling Vineyards is bringing Greece to you with our Inaugural Greek Festival!

Join us for this can't miss event celebrating all things Greek: the wine, the food, the music, the culture, the lifestyle. Event price includes food and wine at the Greek Festival, plus aerial tram, self-guided tour, complimentary tasting of five wines and a souvenir wine glass. Call to RSVP.
Location: Sterling Vineyards, 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga CA 94515
Fee: $85/$75 Wine Club Members; Time: 11:30am-2:30pm; Phone: 800-726-6136 x1

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

Festival del Sole 2012

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NAPA VALLEY, CA - Festival del Sole in partnership with IMG Artists returns for another spectacular season, July 13-22, 2012, in California's beautiful Napa Valley.

CatellodiAmorosa_FestivalDelSole.jpgPhoto credit: Vi Bottaro

Set among lush, rolling foothills and breathtaking vineyard landscapes, Napa Valley Festival del Sole blends world-class artistry, gourmet cuisine, fine wines and lifestyle programs in a unique celebration of the art of life, all during a ten-day experience the New York Times calls a "feast for the senses."

Among the artists appearing this season are violinist Joshua Bell, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, sopranos Danielle de Niese and Lisa Delan, baritone Nathan Gunn, cellist Nina Kotova, guitarist Angel Romero, pianist Hélène Grimaud, the Russian National Orchestra, and members of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Other highlights include the Napa premiere of 24 Hour Plays, an exciting feat of extreme theater, which involves writing, rehearsing and performing a series of plays in just 24 hours - in this case 4 plays with musical interludes from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.


Napa Valley Events: April Highlights

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There are some fabulous events happening in Napa Valley during the month of April. Check your calendar and mark the ones you'll definitely want to attend!

NAPA VALLEY EVENTS

April 7 -- Reach for the Stars Fashion Show

This annual luncheon event features a fashion show dedicated to all those who have ever been touched by cancer. The lunch is followed by the fashion show with models that are cancer survivors and are "Reaching for the Stars." Proceeds from the event will go to the Queen's Cancer Wellness Program.
Location: Silverado Resort & Spa, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa CA
Fee: Call for information & tickets; Time: Call for information; Phone: 707-257-4044

easter_ChocolateBunny.jpgApril 8 -- Hunt for the Hare Easter Celebration at Safari West
Looking for hare-raising adventure this Easter? Join the animals of Safari West (and their human companions) for our annual "Hunt for the Hare", an egg-straordinary Easter celebration and brunch.
Location: 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa
Fee: $68 Adults/$35 Children (Ages 4-12); Time: Morning & Afternoon packages available Phone: 707-579-2551

April 14 -- CSPF's Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup

 Volunteers are needed at Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park for the 15th Annual California State Parks Foundation's Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup presented by PG&E. The water wheel will be restored. To volunteer on Earth Day please call or register online.
Location: Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, 3369 St. Helena Hwy North, St. Helena CA
Fee: Free; Time: 8:30am-4pm; Phone: 888-98-PARKS


Help Support a Great Cause - Pawsport Napa Valley!

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napaHumane_PawsportNV.jpgHead to Napa Valley March 23rd-26th for a fun-filled four days of exclusive wine tastings, events, and special offerings. Whether you're a pet owner, animal lover, or just love to support great causes - Pawsport Napa Valley is the event for you!

Your Pawsport ($75 per person) includes access to over a dozen wineries for complimentary tastings along with a variety of special retail offers, library tastings, food and wine pairings and other activities and events only available to Pawsport Napa Valley pass holders.

Proceeds from the event will support Napa Humane and its programs and services to fulfill their ongoing mission to promote the welfare of companion animals through protection, advocacy, education, and by example.

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets online or call 707-255-8118 x205.
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.

Save the Date! - Passport to Dry Creek Valley

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Tickets on Sale Starting February 1st!
Wine lovers encourage to act fast to nab tickets to Sonoma County's premier passport event.

  • 23rd Annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley - A Modern Tradition with Century-Old Roots
  •  Saturday & Sunday, April 28-29 from 11am - 4:30pm
  • Friday evening Healdsburg Gallery ArtWalk & Wine Tasting, April 27
  • 50 participating wineries throughout Dry Creek Valley
  • Festivities include: exquisite wine tasting, gourmet food, fun motifs, and live music
  • Fly Alaska Airlines into Sonoma County Airport & fly a case of wine home for free

HEALDSBURG, Calif. -- One of California's first and longest-running regional wine events, Passport to Dry Creek Valley is an exceptional wine-tasting experience, blending epicurean thrills with fun, festive décor, and live entertainment. The fun starts the Friday night of Passport Weekend with a Healdsburg Gallery ArtWalk & Wine Tasting, co-sponsored by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley® and Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.

With more galleries than any one city north of the Golden Gate Bridge - and just minutes from Dry Creek Valley - the charming town of Healdsburg offers sophisticated lodging, restaurants, and 22 art galleries all within walking distance. On April 27, the galleries extend their hours to welcome Passport guests to explore and meet local artists, while sipping Dry Creek Valley wines.

Crab & Wine Festival in Mendocino

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2012 Crab & Wine Festival Toasts Northern California's
Local Bounty of Land and Sea

Mendocino County Serves Up Delicious Fare at Internationally Recognized Annual Event, January 20-29

mendocino_CrabWineDays.jpgMENDOCINO COUNTY, CA -- Every January for the past thirteen years, Northern California's Mendocino County has been celebrating locally harvested Dungeness crab and award-winning wines from "America's Greenest Wine Region" with a festival that satiates the taste buds of foodies and oenophiles alike.

From gourmet, crab-themed dinners in four-star restaurants, to family-style cioppino feeds, to the ever popular Crab Cake Cook-off featuring local Mendocino chefs, this festival has something for everyone! And to wash down the abundance of crab, local winemakers will be pouring at winemaker dinners throughout the county and also at the official Wine Tasting Competition, held in conjunction with the Crab Cake Cook-off. Visitors will enjoy a multitude of dinners, tastings, demonstrations, excursions, events and lodging specials over the course of the ten days -- hosted by Visit Mendocino County, the Mendocino Coast Clinics, innkeepers, restaurants, wineries and more.

The 2012 festival takes place from Friday, January 20th - Sunday, January 29th. Some special highlights not to be missed include:

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



Flavor! Napa Valley 2011

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by Courtney Cochran

Silverado Resort & Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

flavorLogo.jpgA four-day gustatory tour de force highlighting farm-to-table cuisine, Flavor! Napa Valley brings together some of the valley's most accomplished food and wine personalities for a powerhouse lineup of events November 16-22nd. 

The highlight of the weekend should be The Appellation Trail: Tasting Napa Valley, a mega tasting of more than 120 wineries' best pours and 30 restaurants' best bites in a festive walk-around format at the Culinary Institute on Friday night. With more big-name purveyors on hand than you'll find in any other place - think Silver Oak Cellars, Robert Mondavi Winery, Stags' Leap Winery, Staglin Family Vineyard and Morimoto Napa, Ad Hoc, La Toque and The Restaurant at Meadowood to name just a few - plus live demos by the likes of chef Tyler Florence, the Appellation Trail should be a phenomenal way to experience the best of the valley in just one night.

Come daytime, attending an intimate workshop with one of the valley's foremost culinary players affords rare insights into the philosophies and methods of these larger-than-life luminaries. Oenobuffs and new wine fans alike should enjoy "The Noblest of Grapes: A Celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon," a seminar hosted by the inimitable Karen MacNeil (authoress of The Wine Bible) and Fred Dame, a charismatic Master Sommelier and one of the nation's foremost wine educators. Sushi fans won't want to miss Iron Chef America star Masaharu Morimoto's "Sushi & Sashimi 101" demonstration, where the reliably entertaining maestro will guide guests through the nuances of this Japanese delicacy. 

For more on the weekend's full lineup, lodging packages and ticketing info, visit FlavorNapaValley.com.

Sweet Whites: A Napa Valley Itinerary

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girlsDrinkingWhiteWineOutside.jpgby Courtney Cochran

If you enjoy a crisp, off dry Muscat (aka "sweet wines") on a warm afternoon or kicking back with girlfriends, this itinerary's for you. Come along as we visit three Napa Valley wineries offering pours of sweeter whites, and learn about shopping excursions and nightlife options, too. Here's to enjoying a sweet day in wine country!

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

Harvest Events Around Wine Country

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calverasGrapeStomp.jpgGOLD COUNTRY
October 1 -- Calaveras Grape Stomp
Celebration, Wine Education: 25 lbs of freshly picked wine grapes, a half wine barrel with a spout, a partner and you. It's Calaveras Grape Stomp time, bringing thousands of spirited stompers and gawkers to enjoy a full day of frivolity. In conjunction with Murphys Gold Rush Street Faire, Main Street, Murphys CA
Fee: Free; Time: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Phone Number: 209-754-0127

LIVERMORE
September 16-18 -- Harvest Festival
Festival: Hundreds of booths featuring handmade art, photography, ceramics, blown glass, toys, jewelry, food and more. All day stage and strolling entertainment.
Location: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton CA
Fee: $9 Adults/$7 Seniors/$4 Youth; Time: Fri & Sat 10a.m.-6p.m/Sun 10a.m.-5p.m.
Phone Number: 415-447-3205

October 1 -- Harvest Tour & Tasting at Wente Vineyards
Wine Education: Wente Vineyards invites you to experience the winery as never before with this rare behind the scenes tour and tasting during the upcoming 2011 harvest. Learn how Wente Vineyards produces world class wines. See the processing first hand and sample some current vintages from our small lot winery as well as wines aged to perfection from our library. Reservations required.
Location: 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore CA
Fee: $20/$15 Wine Club Members; Time: 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
Phone Number: 924-456-2305

MENDOCINO
October 8 -- Breggo Winemaker Harvest Luncheon & Tour
Celebration: Join us as we host an intimate "Ripe for the Picking" Harvest Luncheon with Winemaker Ryan Hodgins. Twenty ticketed guests will join us in the cellar to experience a chef-prepared luncheon inspired by our fall releases.
Location: 11001 Highway 128, Boonville CA
Fee: $35/$25 Club Members; Time: 1pm - 4 pm; Phone Number: 707-895-9589

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

Celebrate Harvest in Sonoma County

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events_SonomaValleyCrush2.jpgSEPTEMBER

September 14 - 18 -- Sonoma Valley Crush Weekend
Celebration, Wine Education: Have you ever romanticized about getting involved in a wine harvest & crush? Find out what it's like September 14 - 18 in the Heart of Sonoma Valley. Join 21 wineries for the 2011 Sonoma Valley CRUSH and experience harvest, hands-on. Tickets are only $35 per person.
Fee: $35; Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Phone Number: 866-794-9463

September 16 -- Harvest Winemaker Dinner at The Castle
Food & Wine Education: Join us for an elegant winemaker dinner at the beautiful Ledson Castle. Winemaker Steve Ledson will share his secrets of how he pushes the soil and the vine to bring you the world renowned wines Ledson is known for.
Location: 7335 Sonoma Hwy (Hwy 12), Kenwood, CA 95409
Fee: $100; Time: 6 p.m. - 10 p.m;. Phone Number: 707-537-3823

September 17 -- Flavors of Fall at Korbel
Celebration: Taste the Flavors of Fall at Korbel Champagne Cellars! We will be offering champagne, wine and food pairings, special tram tours of the vineyards and crushing facilities, Winery and Garden tours throughout the day, special discounts throughout the Wine Shop and a Korbel logo glass to keep!
Location: 13250 River Road, Guerneville CA
Fee: $15/$10 Champagne Club Members; Time: 11am-3:30pm;
Phone Number: 707-824-7000

Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival

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NorthLakeTahoe.jpgLake Tahoe is not just for skiing during the winter months! On September 9-11th, the Village at Northstar is hosting the 26th Annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival that features fine wine, fabulous food, and a host activities including music, art, seminars, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and even a grape stomp. Top off this fun filled weekend on Sunday with the Culinary Competition and Grand Tasting.

Whether you are looking for a getaway with someone special, girlfriends, guy friends, or even the family (there are lots of family and kid themed activities!) - Lake Tahoe is the place to be September 9-11th.

CLICK HERE for details on this Three Day Extravaganza! or BUY TICKETS!!

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 Napa Valley

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AUGUST
August 3 - 21 -- Music in the Vineyards
Live Music: Music in the Vineyards is a nationally-acclaimed chamber music festival held each August in the Napa Valley. The three-week festival showcases world-class artists-in-residence performing new and classic chamber music repertoire in stunning winery settings.
Fee: Varies Time: Varies Phone Number: (707) 258.5559

August 20 -- Napa Valley Art Festival
Exhibition, Benefit: The Napa Valley Art Festival is a juried exhibit and sale of over 300 original paintings by 30 of the West's premier representational artists. 6516 Washington St., Yountville, CA
Fee: Free Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Phone Number: 707-256-3828

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.

Robert Mondavi Summer Music Festival 2011

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mondaviSummerConcert.jpgNobody kicks off July 4th weekend better than Robert Mondavi Winery, one of Napa Valley's legendary wineries, with the start of their annual summer music concert series in the month of July. "This year's lineup presents artists that are excellent musicians in their genre," noted Margrit Mondavi(late wife of Robert Mondavi), who founded the concert series in 1969. "Robert's belief that we could make wines that stand in the company of the world's finest, leads us to select artists who stand in the company of the world's greatest. We are so excited to start with Gavin this year." 

To heat things up first will be Gavin DeGraw on July 2nd as he celebrates the American Dream with heartfelt lyrics and soulful, blues-tinged vocals. In the weeks to follow:

July 9th - Fume Blanc Concert with Colbie Caillat
Colbie is a Grammy nominated rising star armed with dusky vocals and a acoustic guitar

July 16th - Festival del Sole Presents David Foster and Friends
Foster is a noted singer, songwriter, and composer from Canada, and his friends include the Canadian Tenors, Charice, Babyface and Ruben Studdard.

July 23rd - Chris Issak
Since his debut in 1985, Chris Isaak has been captivating audiences with his signature rock 'n' roll music.

July 30th - Winemaker of the Year Concert k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang

A four-time Grammy Award winner, k.d. lang will enchant you with her touching and engaging songs.

Need more of a reason to attend one of the hottest summer concerts in Napa Valley? In the 42 years since the Summer Music Festival's inception, Robert Mondavi Winery has donated more than $2 million from the proceeds to support the Napa Valley Symphony, the Napa Valley Unified School District and the Napa Valley Opera House.

Start planning your trip to Wine Country and get a jump on buying tickets in advance. All performances begin at 7:00 p.m. and are held at the Robert Mondavi Winery on Highway 29 in Oakville, Napa Valley. Ticket prices vary by performance. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.robertmondaviwinery.com or call 1-888-766-6328.


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

Hopland Passport Weekend

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hoplandPassport.jpgHop on over to Mendocino for a wine tasting extravaganza at this year's Hopland Passport Weekend being held April 30 and May 1st where you will sample the area's sustainable, organic and estate-produced wines paired with local food products. Meet the winemakers and vintners and explore the history and culture of this beautiful wine destination.

Several new wineries have been added to the tasting line up for the first time. Expect to taste award-winning wines from Parducci Wine Cellars dubbed by Forbes Magazine as "America's Greenest Winery," and is the nation's first carbon-neutral winery.

Also new to Hopland Passport this year is Cesar Toxqui Cellars, who recently opened a tasting room in downtown Hopland. Cesar and his family invite participants to stop by and taste his hand-crafted, small-batch artisan Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Heirloom wines, all of which are produced using sustainable, traditional methods.

Valentine's Day in Wine Country

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rosePetals.jpgWhat are you doing for Valentine's Day or that entire weekend? Below is a list of romance inspired events around Wine Country if you're still wondering what the perfect plan is!

NAPAVALLEY
February 12 -- Love Fest 2011 at Merryvale
Celebration: Join us on for LOVE FEST '11 in Merryvale's historic Cask Room! Events Manager Kelly Craig has teamed up with Meadowood Napa Valley, for a four-course Valentine's Day Dinner not to be missed. Dinner will feature wines selected from the Library and served in 3-Liter bottles. 1000 Main St., St. Helena, CA
Fee: $150; Time: 7 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Phone Number: (707) 968.3429

**More Events HERE

SONOMA
February 12 -- Valentine's Day Concert at Gloria Ferrer
Celebration, Live Music: Please join us in a special Valentine's Day performance by Flamenco guitarist Eric Symons and special guest Patrick Imbimbo, who is an international recording artist and performer specializing in flamenco and Spanish classical music. Event includes Dessert Buffet plus 2 glasses of award-winning sparkling wine. Please call for reservations. 23555 Carneros Hwy 121, Sonoma CA
Fee: $35/$29.75 Wine Club Members; Time: 7:30 p.m.; Phone Number: (707) 933.1999

**More Events HERE


LIVERMORE
February 13 -- Romance on the Rails!
Celebration: Join us for Valentine's Day Wine-Tasting Train on the Niles Canyon Railway. Enjoy fabulous fine wines and hors d'oeuvres aboard a luxurious Art Deco Lounge Car. 1940's attire admired, but not required. Limited seating. Departs Sunol Depot at 2 p.m. & 5 p.m, sharp! Niles Canyon Railway, 6 Kilkare Road, Sunol CA
Fee: $75; Time: 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.; Phone Number: (510) 910.7024

**More Events HERE


FAIRFIELD/SUISUN VALLEY
February 11 -- Wine and Food "A Love Story"
Celebration, Food & Wine Education: Bring your Valentine to a wonderful taste of Suisun Valley wines, exploring the flavors of the region along with Solano foods prepared by local restaurants. Art and photo displays combined with performing arts will make it all delicious. Fairfield Center for Creative Arts, 1031 W. Texas St., Fairfield
Fee: $35Time: 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 425.4625

**More Events HERE

To see events from other wine regions,
CLICK HERE

Message Boards: Break Out of Your Rut!

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winetasting2.jpgA recent post from someone who recently joined the WineCountry.com Message Boards has fallen into the rut that many of us have when visiting Napa or Sonoma. We visit the SAME wineries we always visit. We've gotten comfortable, it's always a great experience, so why mess up a good thing, right? WRONG. Get out and explore!

Edited Post (see full post HERE)

Have been reading your post for several years now, and finally signed up. I enjoy reading your insights and opinions, making notes for our next visit.

I would like to take advantage of your vast knowledge while planning our next trip to Napa/Sonoma. My wife & I have been visiting Napa area every other year since 2001. While have enjoyed every trip, we have a tendency to stick with the usual places. Yes, we like to do the tastings and buy wines, but really are drawn more to the whole package of a winery: detailed tours, the grounds, ability to walk the grounds/vineyards/caves, and really take in the beauty & workings of the place.


Below are just a few of the suggestions, but why not add your two cents! Sign up to be a member of our message boards.


Annual Monterey Wine Country Wine & Food Festivals

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February

February 12 -- River Road Wine Trail: Valentine's Passport
Wine Education: This is a great opportunity for wine lovers to visit Monterey Wine Country and enjoy the vintages and ambiance of these artisan vintners. Eleven wineries will open their doors for this Valentine's Passport. They will feature rare vintages, music, food and celebration all things amour. As a Passport-carrying V.I.P., guests will receive a souvenir glass, a special gift, entry into a grand drawing, and special discounts. Monterey CA
Fee: $20 Advance/$25 After Feb 1 Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Phone Number: (831) 386.0316

February 12 -- Red Wine & Chocolates at Château Julien

Celebration: The perfect pair! Enjoy a sumptuous selection of chocolates to complement Chateau Julien red wines including Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, La Conviviance & Black Nova throughout the weekend. Château Julien Wine Estate, 8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel CA
Fee: $7/$4 Wine Club Members Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Phone Number:(831) 624.2600

February 27 -- Steinbeck's Birthday Celebration
Celebration: Steinbeck Birthday Celebration is in recognition of John Steinbeck and the inspiration he continues to provide through his legacy. For Monterey County residents, museum admission and all of the Birthday Celebration activities are free. For all others, the activities are included in the general museum admission price. National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Salinas CA
Fee: FreeTime: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Phone Number: (831) 775.4721

Heart of Virginia Chili Cook Off

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chili.jpgLet's hope the snow has stopped long enough for visitors to attend the annual Chili Cook-Off. What better to warm up then with a big bowl of piping hot chili! Visit Central Virginia's wineries: Cooper, Grayhaven, James River and Lake Anna on January 29-30th, 2011. Sample chili at each winery and vote for your favorite one.  Passport tickets are only $10 and include a souvenir wineglass, tasting at the four Virginia wineries and a chance to win amazing prizes upon completing the trail.

BUY TICKETS

*Can't make the event in January? Virginia Wine Lover - shares their favorite chili recipe HERE.

More Upcoming Virginia Events in February:

January Wines of the World: Sierra Barbera

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The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance will host its January Wines of the World event Thursday, Jan. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Murphys Historic Hotel. Guest presenter is Matt Hatcher, owner of Hatcher Winery, who will pour a number of Sierra Foothill Barbera wines. According to Hatcher, "The reputation of the Sierra Foothill Barbera is growing quickly, and guests at the event will find out what others have discovered - that Sierra Foothill Barberas are truly among our finest red wines."

Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy. It produces good yields and is known for its deep color, low tannins and robust fruit flavors of cherry, red and blackberry. Outside of Italy, Barbera is rarely found in Europe except for small plantings in Greece, Romania, and Slovenia. However, in California, Barbera is one of the most successful of the Piemontese (the area in Italy most Barbera grows) grapes to be adapted in the state with more than 8,000 acres of plantings.

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

The Riddling Rack Is A No Brainer

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riddlingrack.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Cold wet weather makes me want to hole up at home with a bottle of red wine and some truffle mashed potatoes.  Home is easy, it's warm, it's reasonably attractive, and it almost always has some really good wine on hand.  But when I dragged myself out on a random weeknight for pre-dinner drinks at the AVIA Hotel's Riddling Rack, I discovered another comforting nook in town with these same attributes--one that's also way cooler looking, and has vintage Dom Perignon by the glass.  

Upcoming Winter Events in Mendocino

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candlelitour.jpgDECEMBER

December 9 - 12 -- Annual Mendocino Coast Candlelight Inn Tour
Holiday: You are invited to enjoy evening tours of Mendocino area bed and breakfast inns and lodges while you help benefit Mendocino Coast Children through Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Mendocino and Mendocino Unified School Enrichment (MUSE). December 9 Inns of Mendocino, December 10 Inns & Lodges of Fort Bragg, December 11 Inns of Little River and Albion, December 12, Inns of Elk.
Fee: $30 all 4 nightsTime: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 964.1228

 
December 25 -- Christmas Dinner at the Mendocino Hotel
Holiday, Dining: Starter:Duck confit strudel, Roasted Pumpkin soup, OR Parsnip,apple and pear salad Entree: Herb roasted cornish hen, certified angus prime rib, OR grilled fresh sea bass Dessert: warm ginger cake, warm apple pudding cake, OR pumpkin mousse. 45080 Main St, Mendocino, CA
Fee: adults $69/child (12&under) $24.00Time: 3 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Phone Number: (800) 548.0513

Crab & Wine Days Ahead In Mendocino

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By Deirdre Bourdet

I'd choose crab and wine over roses and song pretty much any day of the week.  Unfortunately, the highly acclaimed "Crab & Wine Days" festival in Mendocino County only happens once a year--at the cold, wintry peak of local Dungeness crab season.  But what better excuse do you need for a winter getaway than the promise of days and days of crustacean revelry and local wines, hosted by California's greenest wine country region?

Those heady Crab & Wine Days will take place January 21st through 30th, 2011, at a variety of locations around Mendocino County.  Events range from classic crab feed fundraisers for local community groups to crab-themed cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, and open house winery tastings celebrating wines that pair with the crabby festival hero.  And because this is Mendocino, everything comes at a very affordable price.

Oregon: Applegate Valley's "Eye Openingly Good" Wines

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applegatevalley.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

I was utterly charmed by Rhône-inspired pours from southern Oregon's new Cowhorn Wine at a Biodynamic® tasting in San Francisco earlier this year.  I reviewed all of my favs from the event here for Wine Country, though I must say that Cowhorn stuck out for its gorgeous packaging and branding (checking out the website is a must!) that - along with the winery's excellent pours - set the spot apart as one positioned to put not only über green wines but also the Applegate region itself on the vinous map.

September Saturdays in the Valley

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chefotooletomates.jpg By Deirdre Bourdet

Napa Valley is known throughout the world for its stunning wines, gorgeous countryside, and world-class cuisine.  Late summer is the perfect time to visit this corner of foodie paradise and taste the good life, and conveniently, tons of September events give visitors and locals the opportunity to experience all three of Napa's greatest attractions in the same sitting.  Here are my top weekend picks for a good time this month
Photo by Ashley Teplin

Build Your Own BLT day at Bardessono Resort. Next Saturday, September 11, from 2pm to 5pm, I will be following my dreams to an embarrassment of deliciousness, courtesy of Bardessono and Hill Family Estates.  On this momentous day, Chef Sean O'Toole will give guests free rein to assemble the greatest BLTs imaginable using the resort's own organically farmed heirloom tomatoes and lettuces, a panoply of housemade aiolis, local breads, and of course a full selection of artisanal bacons.  Will you choose Bardessono's own apple-smoked bacon, with Cajun aioli on slices of rich brioche?  Or will you go with Fatted Calf from Napa, slathered with bacon-sherry aioli on tender pain de mie?  As you ponder these important questions, sip on a selection of lovely Hill Family Estate wines, and nosh on passed hors d'oeuvres like Andalucian gazpacho, sweet tomato cream puffs, or La Quercia prosciutto with crushed tomato crostini.  Round out the tomato-bacon feast with sides like fennel salad with taggiasca olive, preserved lemon, and Regina extra virgin olive oil, or a visit to the decadent burrata bar with its selection of specialty salts.  Cardiologists will be standing by... or so I hope.  For tickets call Bardessono at 707-204-6030.


Labor Day Sun, Fun & Savings in Tri-Valley, CA

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livemoreGenericPhoto.jpgTri-Valley, CA - Do you know what you're doing this coming Labor Day Weekend? Why not make a last minute getaway to Tri-Valley. Several hotels, restaurants, wineries and shops are offering discounts and specials. In addition, There are three great events and festivals happening the same holiday weekend. See below:

29th Annual Wine Harvest Celebration
The wineries of Livermore Wine Country have opened their doors Sunday, Sept. 5th and Monday, Sept 6th to celebrate the harvest. Come join the fun and enjoy music, food, arts & crafts and of course wine throughout wineries in Livermore Valley and at Robertson Park. Some wineries will even be offering complimentary vineyard tours and winemaking seminars. Tickets range in price from $10-$65 and can be purchased online.


Wine Country Parties: What's Hot, Where to Go

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By Courtney Cochran

Wine Country invariably inspires thoughts of relaxation, but it can just as easily stoke the party urge within us - provided we know where to exercise that urge, and when.  Read on for tips on your best bets for tracking down parties in Wine Country; because we wouldn't have you miss out on a good time in the most beautiful place on earth, just because you don't know where to find it.

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.

Pet Friendly Places in Mendocino

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harryPutter.jpgDon't leave your beloved dog at home while you vacation. Take them along with you this time. More and more places are becoming dog and pet friendly. According to canine reporter Harry Putter there a lot of lodging places and attractions throughout Mendocino County for you and your dog to enjoy.

Several bed and breakfasts, hotels and vacation rentals are more than willing to accommodate your dog and provide special supplies to help you care for them during your stay as well. And what would a trip to Mendocino be without wine tasting. Many wineries have wine dogs of their own and will welcome yours with open arms. Goldeneye Winery, Navarro Vineyard and Yorkville Cellars are just a few that would be happy to host you and your pet.

Harry reviews wineries, restaurants, and other attractions making sure to note things that would be of interest to your dog and of course to you as the owner. Recently, he visited the property St. Orres and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Check out his reviews and more at Harry Putter's Blog.

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.

August Means Busy In Wine Country

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silveroak.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

August heralds the start of harvest season in wine country, when wineries and restaurants kick into overdrive to welcome visitors with events and activities related to our most important time of year.  Since actual harvesting doesn't typically begin until September (or later!), many wineries plan August parties around their release of red wines, while others pick a crowd-pleasing food or educational topic to theme their event.  Regardless of the official focus, these early harvest events always feature sunshine, fun, tasty edibles, and fantastic local wines.  Here are a few August events with all of those essential factors, as well as particularly cool themes.

Yountville Pairings: Art & Wine

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Ma(i)sonry(2).jpgIf you are looking for a unique wine tasting experience, then make sure your next visit to Napa Valley Wine Country in the town of Yountville includes Ma(i)sonry. They pair "artisan wines with exquisite art and furnishings in a historic setting".

The building itself dates back to 1904, one of three stone buildings in Yountville and one of only tow listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places. But this is no museum! Reminiscent of a home or private club, leisurely view furnishings ranging from the 16th century to the mid-twentieth century as well as contemporary collections of art on display from well known and respected artists.

Additionally, not only can you peruse the design and art collections at Ma(i)sonry, you are also welcome to do the same at their other three gallery locations: I.Wolk Gallery in St. Helena, Sculpture gardens at Auberge de Soleil in Rutherford, CA and/or the sculpture gardens at MacArthur Place in Sonoma, CA.

Special Offers for Your Yountville Getaway

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YOUNTVILLE, CA - A vacation, weekend retreat,  or day excursion in Yountville is by itself a treat, but to sweeten your escape, why not take advantage of the promotions and offers that many Yountville lodging, winery and spa retreats are offering? Planning a "Suite Romantic Getaway", a "De-Stressing" time out, or off-the-beaten path wine tasting couldn't get any easier. And after all, the more you save, the more you can truly experience Yountville! Some of these offers expire at the end of July*!

Yountville, CA: Tomatoville Touches Down

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by Courtney Cochran

With a nod to Jimmy Buffet's catchy vaca anthem, Margaritaville, Yountville's Bardessono and Hill Family Estate will bring Wine Country visitors the three-day Tomatoville celebration September 10, 11 and 12.  Billing the tomato "Mother Nature's finest fruit (since the grape)," the event's sponsors promise a juicy lineup of activities; highlights include:

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



July 4th Weekend Events in Wine Country

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Fireworks at the celebration of the United Sta...

Image via Wikipedia

Fourth of July is less than a month away so now's the time to start planning your festivities! We suggest, instead of the same 'ol backyard bbq, why not venture out and experience some of the fabulously patriotic events going on in your wine country backyard? More than likely, you'll find BBQ, wine tasting and of course fireworks too! Click here for Red, White and Blue events near you!

LIVERMORE/TRI-VALLEY,CA
July 4  -- Winestock Alive! Free Independence Day Concert

Live Music: Chouinard Winery's 'Music in the Vineyards' series includes live cajun, swing, reggae, jazz, blues, & sugar beat. All in our beautiful woodland vineyard. Reservations are necessary. Bring your own gourmet picnic. 33853 Palomares Road, Castro Valley.
Fee: $40; Time: 12pm - 5pm.; Phone: (510) 582.9900


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Soon, Suisun

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suisun1.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Few people in the Bay Area (including me) know that there is a third wine country region budding in the North Bay, one that still has the open, unpretentious friendliness of a predominantly agricultural area.  Visiting Fairfield/Suisun Valley and Green Valley in Solano County is like--I'm told--visiting Napa and Sonoma thirty or forty years ago.  You find earnest, honest people eager to introduce visitors to their region's beauty and strengths, with a contagious enthusiasm and humility of pricing.  Most wineries do not charge a tasting fee at all, and those that do refund it with the purchase of a bottle... none of which seem to cost more than $30.

Attn Pinotphiles: La Paulée If You Please! (I Do)

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lepaulee3.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

For Pinot fans who aren't sufficiently "off" the variety as a result of the slew of recent "Pinotgate" allegations, there is an upcoming tasting in the Bay Area sure to satisfy your every Pinot fantasy.  Enter La Paulée de San Francisco, a now-annual wine and food bacchanal inspired by the namesake grand feast held each year in Burgundy at the conclusion of the harvest.  With a bevy of the best names in French Pinot and Chardonnay - not to mention a stellar lineup of star chefs and sommeliers - on the docket, this year's event looks to be something you won't want to miss.

Santa Barbara: Mini Guide to Santa Ynez

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Lincourt Winery - Santa Ynez Valley, CA

Image by dcshoesboy via Flickr

by Robert P. Farmer

Not too long ago, Santa Barbara County was home to a handful of Hollywood celebrities trying to exist outside the limelight, and to a handful of winemakers trying to make their way outside the glare of Napa-Sonoma.The region was also for a time home to a scattering of upstart wineries who each developed their own niche and subsequent cult following.Today, that cult following has developed into full-fledged fame.

Contemporary Santa Barbara County is home to more than 21,000 vineyard-planted acres, grown and tended by dozens of wineries. But happily, the majority of these wineries remain small in stature--family owned-and-operated concerns with small-batch production and a handcrafted aesthetic. The wineries are primarily situated in the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valleys, about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara. Rich with history and shot-through with breathtaking coastal scenery, the area's AVAs produce remarkable Pinot Noirs (as fans of the movie Sideways will no doubt recall). However the region is also responsible for several excellent Chardonnays and Cabernets. There are more varietals on offer from Santa Barbara in smaller quantities, including Merlots and select Malbecs and Viogniers.

Santa Barbara's Wine Country gained notoriety some years back with the release of the movie Sideways, and the region indeed capitalized on the fame. Thankfully, Santa Barbara has managed to retain its mellow, unpretentious appeal. The relaxed pace and easy-going charm actually translated well on screen, and visitors can easily take advantage of it with a well-planned weekend. The region's four main towns-- Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Ballard -- each have a distinct character. Also worthy of attention is the town of Buellton to the north. Whether exploring the quaint Danish-transplant town of Solvang or discovering one of the many great restaurants in the valley towns, the intrepid traveler will find Santa Barbara County every bit as appealing as California's more famous wine country to the north.

Here are my recommendations for the town of Santa Ynez:

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Affordable Wine Country Isn't a Myth

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livermorePromotion.jpgThere's more to love than meets the eye, as a trip to Livermore and the Tri-Valley will quickly reveal. Locals adore the area for its authentic, charming and unspoiled terrain and ambiance.

Amidst the rolling hills is a golfer and wine lovers paradise and indulgent spa escapes. This not-to-be- missed region also boasts some of the best hotels and resorts, shopping, and fine and affordable dining available. Thinking of a place to get married? Gorgeous vineyard backdrops and venues to make for a memorable wedding all can be found in Tri-Valley. And of course, a host of activities for guests.

In essence, it's the perfect getaway spot for anyone and everyone. So whether you're seeking a romantic, family, girls getaway or man-cation destination, day or night, look no further than the Tri-Valley. 

And just in case you need one more  reason to visit, the Tri-Valley locals are offering a chance to enter their "Win a Spring Break Getaway to Wine Country" giveaway. Winners will receive a 2 night stay at a local hotel, a $100 gas card, two tickets to Livermore Valley Wine Country's Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 20-21, and a welcome bottle of wine. CLICK HERE for more details and to enter.

 

Napa Valley Mustard Festival 2010

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mustardFest2010.jpgThe Napa Valley vineyards landscape is slowly turning a different color - mustard yellow. That can only mean one thing for locals and visitors in the know . . . The Napa Valley Mustard Festival will be in full bloom in only a couple more weeks! This year's festivities take place January 30th - March 27th and will once again offer visitors a "sensational season of food, wine, and art events".

To kick off the Napa Valley Mustard Festival season is the "Mustard Magic" event on Saturday, January 30th at 7pm hosted at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. Stroll through art-filled, candelit spaces featuring tastes of food and wine sure to entice at every turn, a gourmet buffet on the 3rd floor, live auction featuring luxurious trips, art, and wine, and of course dancing into the night! Tickets range from $125 to $175. More Details

Things just get better and better from here... see the list of other events below:

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:

Romantic Events in Wine Country

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Spice up your life and plan a romantic getaway to Wine Country. Wine regions across California, Virginia, and Oregon offer a variety of wine tasting activities that are both romantic and fun.

Below are just a few of the events many wineries are hosting this year for Valentine's Day Weekend. Please go to our Events Calendar for other ideas! Happy romance making....

GOLD COUNTRY
February 13 -- Valentine Dinner & Dance at Ironstone Vineyards
Celebration: Enjoy a romantic dinner at Ironstone Vineyards Tasting Room. The three-course meal includes a split bottle of wine per couple and romantic dessert. No host cash bar available to purchase your favorite Ironstone Wines. Enjoy the great sounds of Speakeazy Jazz Orchestra and dance the night away. Call for reservations. Ironstone Vineyards, 1894 Six Mile Road, Murphys
Fee: $65 per person; Time: Dinner seating starts at 7 p.m.; Phone: (209) 728.1251 x11


CLICK HERE for full Gold Country Events Calendar
 

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

Carmel Valley: Great Food, Wine & Relaxation

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Bernadus.jpgThe ultimate three day weekend in Carmel Valley (Monterey Wine Country) is at your fingertips. The Monterey County CVB offers a detailed itinerary for wine and food lovers alike. Recommendations for lodging, where to dine for some of the best, fresh foods, and of course wine tasting.

Below are is just snapshot of Friday -

1PM - Arrive early and pick from a myriad of inns, hotels or lodges for your first night's stay (Country Garden Inns is located within walking distance of Carmel Valley Village and known for their tasty breakfast buffet. They also are running a Wine Escape special - room rates are only $165 per person and your stay includes dinner and wine tasting tickets. Click here to view special ).

2 PM - Once your settled with accommodations, go on a horseback ride at Holman Ranch.

6PM -  End the night with dinner reservations at the "Dining Room" which features French cuisine with a California twist that highlights locally grown ingredients, and is the perfect spot for a memorable dinner.

Click here for the full three day itinerary.

Oregon Odyssey: To Do List - Portland & Willamette

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lux4.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Visitors to Oregon will note right away that things are done differently here. Shop clerks linger and chat while packaging up your goods, traffic moves more slowly and the pace of life seems firmly dialed to the "enjoy the journey" station. This enticingly mellow pace of life, coupled with Oregon's outstanding natural beauty and prolific food and wine culture, make it an ideal destination for foodies, outdoor adventurers and anyone looking to take things down a few notches. Read on for some of our top picks for activities to indulge in chez Portland and beyond, in the storied haunts of the Willamette.

Oregon Itinerary: Willamette North Valley

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pinotbarrels.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Stop 1: Adelsheim Vineyard

A Willamette tour wouldn't be complete without a visit to well-known Adelsheim Vineyard, which boasts stellar views of the Chehalem Mountains from its newly refurbished tasting room just outside Newberg. Founded in 1971, the winery is run by the affable David Adelsheim, a Willamette wine pioneer whose passion for the area and its world-class Pinots runs deep. It's worth going just to taste the winery's nuanced single-vineyard Pinots - the Ribbon Springs Vineyard ($68) is a standout - though Adelsheim's Willamette Valley-classified bottling ($32) is easier on the wallet and does a better job capturing the full scope of the region's signature aromas, flavors and silky texture.

Tasting Room: 16800 NE Calkins Lane, Newberg, OR 97132. Open daily 11am-4pm (tel) (503) 538-3652
Tasting Fee: $15 for 6 wines
Watch My Video of David Adelsheim at the winery

Tip: Take a picnic lunch and enjoy it on Adelsheim's spacious outdoor patio (bottle purchase will be appreciated as a courtesy for using the space). There are no other lunch options in the immediate area, and you'll want to make sure to refuel in the midst of a full day of tasting.

Wine Country Itinerary: Willamette South Valley

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ribbonRidge.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Visitors to Oregon's wonderfully Pinot-centric Willamette Valley will do well to split their tasting excursion into at least two days, as the area's wide open spaces create not only lovely panoramic views but also drives of some distance between wineries. Thus, this itinerary starts in the centrally situated Dundee Hills and meanders from there to the nearby towns of Carlton and McMinnville. Along the way, you'll visit one of the region's best-known (not to mention physically striking) wineries in Domaine Drouhin Oregon, a start-up venture in Scott Paul Wines and the birthplace of Willamette wine in The Eyrie Vineyards. In all, it's a fabulously diverse lineup where Oregon winemaking is concerned - and one just waiting for you to savor.

For more on wineries further north, check out our North Valley itinerary.

Oregon Odyssey

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oregon_wine_country.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Oregon's famed Willamette Valley - a wonderfully bucolic spot an hour's easy drive from Portland - may just be the anti-Napa Valley. You won't find any medieval castles or Persian Palaces here, though you WILL find no shortage of ridiculously good wine, an incredibly warm people and a far slower pace of life than that in bustling California. So slow down (literally, the police ticket a lot around these parts), take your time and prepare to be awed by the natural beauty of your surroundings, the superb quality of the wines and the kindness of the people serving them. It's not exactly wine country in slow motion, but it's not far off.

And given the hectic pace of our lives these days, this can be a very good thing.

See, Taste, Eat and Sleep!
Portland & Willamette Valley To Do List

Wine Tasting & Itineraries
Top 10 Willamette Wines
Willamette Itinerary: North Valley
Willamette Itinerary: South Valley




28th Annual Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration

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livermoreBarrellEvent.jpgExperience the Harvest in Livermore Valley Wine Country. Over 40 wineries' wines and their unique personalities during the peak of Harvest Season! 

New for 2009 is the Harvest Village at Robertson Park in Livermore, where 21 wineries will be pouring their wines and guests will enjoy live music on two stages, arts and crafts and food vendors. Another 19 wineries will be pouring at their wineries across Livermore Valley, each offering a unique experience.

On Sunday, festival guests can board a complimentary shuttle buses at Harvest Village that will transport them between wineries. Attendees will be the first wine festival guests ever to vote for their favorite winery experiences via text message.

Two-day tickets are $50 in advance and $75 at the event. Sunday-only tickets are $45 and Monday-only tickets are $40.  Non-drinking tickets (required for children over 12) are $10 and are  valid for both days. Tickets are available online at www.LVwine.org

Napa Valley Arts Week: August 26 - Sept. 1, 2009

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By Louisa Hufstader

Party time! Artists gather for Open Studios preview at Mumm

It's a big week for the visual arts in Napa: Aug. 28 marks the kickoff of the annual Open Studios event sponsored by Arts Council Napa Valley, which hosts a preview reception and benefit that evening at Mumm Napa Valley.

napariver.jpgBut first: The historic Napa Mill continues its Wednesday series "Locals Night at the Mill," with live music, wine tasting, $5 appetizers at the Napa General Store and specials from Vintage Sweet Shoppe, Amelia's Gifts, Angele and Sweetie Pies, along with a Riverwalk display of local fine artists who have been juried into the Open Studios tour. Napa River Inn Plaza, 500 Main Street, Napa, 5 to 9 p.m.; www.napariverinn.com.

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!

Group Wine Tasting in Virginia Wine Country

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What better way to go wine tasting then with a group of friends! Most wineries are no stranger to large groups as many have partnered with various touring companies that accommodate as many as 50 folks in a group at a time. Of course you can also plan your own trip with just a group of friends and family. Arcady Vineyard who offers wine tasting tours in Virginia Wine Country gives folks inside tips for how to do group tasting.

Some of the tips include:
(1) Map out exactly where you are going (each winery stop) to avoid wasting time. You want to spend your time enjoying the wineries, not sitting in a  car or bus.

(2) After you have selected the wineries you want to visit, call ahead of time and give them notice. They might be able to set up the tasting for your group in an exclusive area of the winery.

CLICK HERE to read the full article online!

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