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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

Summer in Santa Barbara

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It's hard not to want to pack up and move to a place that has some 300-plus days of sun each year--and not blistering hot sun, but typically 70-75 degree weather throughout the spring, summer and fall. Ah, Santa Barbara. No wonder the freeways can get so packed.

Located just up the road from its nearest big city, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is an ocean-side nirvana, where days rarely heat up past "comfortable in shirtsleeves" or cool down past "grab a jacket, just in case." And though there can be a few anomalous days--especially the quirky weather in June, when foggy mornings linger a bit--weather is mostly well, perfect.

Monterey: Getaways for the More Adventurous

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The days of scheduling a vacation to just hibernate are over. As we strive for longer, healthier lives our recreation takes on greater importance. While we should still make time for sitting back and knocking off a book or two, getting out, getting fresh air, and stretching those muscles does more than make us feel good - it makes us look good.

The Monterey peninsula has everything a good getaway needs. Perfect scenery, history, amazing miles of coast - some for playing, some just for looking at, wine country and recreation of just about any kind.

By M.L. Hilton

(MONTEREY, CA) -- I am falling in love with Monterey. My crush has evolved into a full-fledged affair. Over the past year, Monterey has gone from a favored place to visit into the I-could-live-here category.

The first spell was cast by the spectacular scenery: majestic ocean views, pulsing dunes, fog-covered pines knarled by wind and sea spray, cold mists and fireplaces, sunny valleys, and dusty farming towns. The area, in a quiet ever-present manner, reminds you of man’s diminutive stance against nature. And the residents have worked, and fought, hard to keep it that way.

Of course, maybe my affinity has something to do with the fact that every time I visit it is for some fabulous party of one type or another. The most recent event was the annual Great Wine Escape.

But my kinship has another reason. Every time I visit, someone I meet invites me to come back and stay with them. No, not the lecherous (or otherwise) single men, it has been young families, wine aficionado marrieds, sweet widows; in Monterey, either the people are incredibly nice or I have been incredibly lucky.

This last trip, my table mates at the Pairings at the Plaza, part of the Great Escape Weekend, kept me laughing so hard that by the end of the day I wanted to throw my carefully crafted schedule to the wind and finish the day with them drinking martinis at some fabulous Carmel bar.

M and M (names fully withheld to protect the exuberant) are an over-the-top (of their glass) couple who were married a decade earlier by an Indian Elvis in Las Vegas. They met in London and began a party that has been continuing ever since. They consume substantial quantities of wine and know what they like, and don’t like. Viognier was dismissed as the "Trophy Wife" of white wines. “Why?” Because, M quipped, it is low in sugar and low in calories.

As a journalist, I am typically embraced by the business world – “stay here,” “taste that.” But it is the people that I meet on every trip that give me the flavor of an area or an experience. Those that provide their email addresses, exhort me to stay, “drink this,” “laugh with me,” “come enjoy . . . .”

I have been seduced by Monterey, its people and its timelessness. If you haven’t already, open yourself and be pulled into Monterey’s spell.

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