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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

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

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

By ML Hilton

(VIRGINA) -- The journey to Virginia wine country (with a side, sightseeing trip to Washington DC) certainly started in a rather early and mundane fashion late last week: a trip through Oakland airport at o’dark thirty. But getting into Virginia turned out to be more rollin’ and rockin’ than most of the passengers cared to enjoy. We hit the tail end of a hurricane, and ended up diverting to Richmond after the pilot decided the ride down to Dulles was getting bumpier than even he cared for.

Starved and airsick, I was game for bailing out and driving the two hours from Richmond toward that evening’s destination, the incomparable Goodstone Inn. I felt mildly guilty, because leaving the plane had the feeling of rats departing a sinking ship. In truth, I was just ready to start my adventure and get off my butt and out of the airplane seat.

Admittedly, I use the word adventure loosely. But, it really does apply. There is always something you take home from your travels beyond what you learn about a place – whether it’s your first visit, or one of many.

It’s not just adventures, it is the surprises as well. My first was that evening over an incredible steak served at your basically garish truck stop. Even in top restaurants in Napa, I have not tasted a more tender or flavorful cut of meat. Liberally marbled with fat (which probably was part of the trick), this was the type of steak that you pick the bone up and gnaw on. Of course, there was not a flick of green on the plate – just a nice white baked potato, no veggies within miles. I guess you can’t have everything, especially for $13.99.

My other surprise was the nonchalance with which the vintners and growers viewed the rain. While final harvest at the beginning of October was still up to four weeks away for several Virginia wineries, many people only mildly reacted to the cool drizzle. In Napa, rain at harvest makes headlines.

Because of the year-round precipitation, dry-farming was something that was not overly discussed with the vineyard managers, though soil types did get a more enthusiastic, and interesting exchange.

History was everywhere; neither of my accommodations for the nights spent in Virginia were younger than 250 years old. Many wine tasting rooms were converted barns or homes from the 1700’s and it was easy to see that the entire building(s) were put together by hand, and without the benefit of electric tools.

Beyond the testaments to both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, local and current politics was not overlooked, and was heatedly discussed in a few tasting rooms. Many boutique wineries are not, or will not, ship or sell wines outside the state of Virginia. So, be prepared to make your own arrangements for getting your wine home if you live outside the state. If you are interested in which side of the issue the wineries are on, just drop into a tasting room and get the local scoop yourself. They won’t be shy in telling you what they think.

The juxtaposition of the old history: an intimate part in the birth of our nation; and the new history: an emerging wine industry was a refreshing experience. Virginian’s seem to take things a bit in stride. A sort of (not to) hasty pudding philosophy.

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