Recently in Sonoma Category

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend - Auction Sneak Peeks!

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Sonoma Samba at Chateau St. Jean Winery, Kenwood
Sunday, September 1, 2013


sonoma-wine-country-weekend-auction-sonoma-samba-art.jpgRaise a glass (and a paddle) with Sonoma County's wine and food superstars as you bid on world-class wines and experiences at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. This year's theme is "Sonoma Samba"! This Sonoma auction is the flagship event of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and is Sonoma County's largest and most fun fundraising event. Mingle with some of Sonoma's finest winemakers - there will be a local winemaker or grower presiding over each table on hand to share their wines, and great stories too!

The grand lawn of Chateau St. Jean will be transformed into a Pan-Latin Celebration you don't want to miss. Only a few days left to buy tickets! Buy tickets directly online!

For those already attending, CLICK HERE to take a sneak peek at some of this year's wine auction lots featuring a one-of-a-kind all inclusive experience "Fly Away to Cirque du Soleil with Visa Signature", "Barn Dance and Barbecue with the Gallo Family and MacMurray Ranch, All-Access Pass to Awesome Austin with Siduri's Adam Lee, and much more!

Bid Online!
Even if you can't make this year's event, you still have an opportunity to snag some prized bottles from Sonoma winemakers cellars, one-of-a-kind etched bottles, and exclusive Sonoma trips and packages. View lots online now.

Sonoma International Film Festival: Sneak Peek at Films!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Celebrate Romance & Valentine's Day

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

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

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

Romantic Retreat to Sonoma Wine Country

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

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

VALENTINE'S DAY DINNER RECOMMENDATIONS

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

Olive Season in Sonoma Wine Country!

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




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

Event Highlights:

Watch Video


Wine Tasting Itinerary: Pinot Day in Russian River

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

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

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.

Sonoma: Summer Events Spotlight

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AUGUST

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

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

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


Farmhouse Inn Celebrates the Barn's Birthday

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"You Choose Your Prize" SWEEPSTAKES

At Farmhouse, the beloved Barn is turning three! This calls for a celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with gifts! The sweepstakes is simple. Just share the Farmhouse Love with  friends, coworkers, whomever, and every time one of them "likes" Farmhouse Inn on Facebook, you are entered to win . . .again, again, and again.

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THE PRIZES

1. Visit Farmhouse for the ultimate Wine Country Getaway*. Two nights in a Luxury Barn Room, a four-course dinner and wine pairings for two in our Michelin starred restaurant, and a private tour and lunch at one of our exclusive winery partners. (Value approx. $2500) *does not include airfare or travel cost.

or

2. Sip Farmhouse-style at home. You and Farmhouse's Wine Director, Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, will collaborate to create your dream wine cellar*.  We ship you the cellar - we loan you Geoff and his expertise to help you choose, and procure, your dream collection.   *Does not include the wine itself. We promise up to 6 hours of Geoff's time. (Value approx. $2000)

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3. Sleep like you've never slept before
- at least not since you left Farmhouse. The famous and much sought after Farmhouse Bed*- the mattress and our luxury layers of feather bedding and pillows delivered to your door. You choose the size. What's a perfect nights' sleep worth anyway? (Value approx. $2000) *does not include your bed frame or linens.

or

4.  Farm for yourself.  Dine on those farm-fresh eggs that are such a part of a Farmhouse stay, every day, at home!  We'll send you a custom built chicken coop, six heritage breed chicks, and a sack of organic chick feed to get you started. Six fresh eggs a day...imagine the possibilities. Includes a selection of Farmhouse breakfast recipes. (Approx. value $1800)

Winner will be announced by email and on Farmhouse Facebook page August 1, 2012.

ENTER NOW!


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

Mother's Day Events in Sonoma

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

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

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

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

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

Sonoma Spotlight: Dry Creek Valley

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by Courtney Cochran

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

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

Weather, What to Expect
Dry Creek Valley is one of Sonoma's numerous excellent wine-producing valleys.  Though it is one of those more closely situated to the ocean (it's just about 20 miles inland from the Pacific), Dry Creek experiences significantly warm temperatures during summer months.  During this time, heat necessitates smart warm weather preparation such as taking plenty of water with you, stopping to rest if pursuing cycling or other physically activities, and avoiding excessive sun exposure during peak sunshine periods. Evening temperatures are cool year-round, and winter is cool and wet during the rainy season. Spring and fall offer the mellowest conditions for traveling, and fog can be found in the morning year-round.  

Top 25 Relaxation & Spa Hotels

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bardessonoHotel.jpgBased on the reviews of millions of Trip Advisor travelers, the 2012 Traveler's Choice results for Best Hotels are officially in. Hotels in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County ranked in the top 25 for Relaxation & Spa Hotels. See below:

10. Bardessono - Yountville, CA
Most recent review from a couple in Texas said "My wife and I came here for a three night getaway. The hotel and staff were first class. We had incredible massages and the staff there was the friendliest I have seen. They had just finished renovating the restaurant. The concierge helped plan every meal and winery. I highly recommend the hotel and town. It is central to everything." - January 12, 2012.  See more reviews.


15. Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort - Calistoga, CA


kenwoodSpa_pic1.jpg22. Kenwood Inn & Spa - Kenwood, CA
A couple from Hawaii recently reviewed and said, "The Kenwood Inn and Spa is so very nice! It was like walking into a small Tuscan village - so romantic and quiet and relaxing! ... Our spa day was awesome! My husband and I both had the best facials and massages we've ever had - even better than the ones we would get from the spas in Germany. The Kenwood Inn and Spa is centrally located to some amazing wineries and we enjoyed one day with a personal driver and the picnic lunch that the Inn and Spa prepared for us during our wine tasting day. " - December 31, 2011. See more reviews.


23. Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort - Calistoga, CA






Need more lodging recommendations? Check out our Message Boards!

Napa Valley Message Boards - Lodging
Sonoma Country Message Boards - Lodging

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

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

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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.

Indulge at Kenwood Inn & Spa

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kenwoodSpa_pic1.jpgNeatly tucked away in Sonoma's Valley of the Moon, the Kenwood Inn and Spa is an intimate retreat hailed by wine country aficionados as the ultimate getaway.

Kenwood is a must-visit destination for local, regional and worldwide visitors, who are unvaryingly impressed by the Kenwood Inn's attentive, yet relaxed, friendly service, top-notch culinary offerings, perceptive wine list highlighting the region's best boutique wineries and winemakers.

Lavishly appointed rooms, lush, verdant grounds and a destination-worthy Spa await guests, who easily settle into Kenwood's peaceful, serene and romantic ambiance.

The Spa at Kenwood is a perennial favorite for day and touring spa-goers who desire indulgence and relaxation. Offering one of the most comprehensive collections of proprietary body treatments representing the soul of wine country, The Spa at Kenwood offers a unique collection of vinotherapeutic treatments utilizing the exceptional rejuvenating and protective powers of the grape.

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.




Where to Eat Breakfast in Napa & Sonoma

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Where to enjoy the best breakfasts in Wine Country.

by Jill Silverman Hough

There's nothing like waking up in Wine Country, with the promise of a perfect day ahead. So, why not indulge in an amazing breakfast? Whether you like to ease into the day with coffee and a fresh-baked scone, or you're up for a three-course brunch, here are the spots to start your day off right.

Cantinetta Piero
The venue: A hotel restaurant, but the hotel feels like a bit of Tuscany.
The food: The two-course prix fixe breakfast starts with fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, a small pastry, and yogurt with fruit and house-made granola. Then, it moves to your choice of three egg dishes. Go for the side of artisan-smoked bacon, and linger over every bite.
The prices: $18 (30 percent off for locals).
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7:30-10 a.m. 6774 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 299-5015, cantinettapiero.com.

Solbar
The venue: Michelin star-rated hotel restaurant, with a hip yet casual vibe.
The food: The on-premise garden influences the menu, and everything is expertly prepared. Lemon ricotta pancakes are crisp around the edges but light inside, thanks to whipped egg whites. Beef for the hash is house corned. Juices aren't just fresh squeezed, they're squeezed to order. And coffee comes in a personal French press.
The prices (entrées): $11-$17.
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7-11 a.m., brunch Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, (707) 226-0800, solbarnv.com.

Read More

Upcoming Holiday Events in Sonoma Valley

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holidayStar.jpgNovember 25 -- Thanksgiving Dinner at the Lodge at Sonoma
Holiday, Dining: Kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving Dinner at the Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar located at The Lodge at Sonoma. Rising star chef Janine Falvo often harvests from the restaurant's own year-round garden and other ingredients are sourced from the very best Sonoma farms, ranches and dairies. You're sure to enjoy a delicious meal with family this Thanksgiving.  Reservations required. , 1325 Broadway, Sonoma
Fee: Call for information & reservations Time: Call for information and reservations Phone Number: (707) 931.2042

November 26 - 27 -- Annual Holiday Heart of Sonoma Valley Open House
Celebration: Join over Twenty wineries throughout the Heart of Sonoma Valley for this annual celebration and enjoy wine tastings, meet winemakers, mingle in our caves & cellars, stock up on your favorite wines for the holidays, pick up holiday gifts for your friends & family and relish in wine country holiday cheer! This event takes place at each winery, and as you travel from winery to winery you will enjoy award-winning wines, fresh baked nibbles, savory treats, caroling, holiday cheer and much more.
Fee: $40/person for both days in advance ($50 at the door) Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Phone Number: (866) 794.9463

El Pueblo Inn

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elpuebloPostcard.jpgIn 1957, when Ray O. Bradbury settled in Sonoma, the town was a predominantly rural area and visitors were served by one historic hotel on the plaza. Ray, whose background included cattle ranching and owning hotels, set about to change that. In 1959 he opened the El Pueblo Inn, an early California ranch-style hotel, built using authentic adobe construction.

Ray personally went to the inn every morning to start the large coffee pot and set out the doughnuts on an outside counter--the El Pueblo's first complimentary breakfast. It was a point of pride that he served fresh-brewed, quality coffee to his guests at a time when this was cutting-edge service for the traveler. His exuberant personality and genuine nature helped build the reputation of the hotel as the "friendliest place in town." He loved to sing and was always ready to serenade whoever was around whether he knew them or not.

Hugging the Coast, Sonoma Style

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By Robert P. Farmer

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

Wine Country Personality - Gayle Oberti Jenkins

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DSC_0357.jpgTo begin with, I'd like to introduce myself as a proud resident and entrepreneur in Sonoma. I am passionate about the beauty of the area, the kindness of the people, and the exquisite elements produced in Sonoma that make the quality of life here so wonderful. I bring that passion into the businesses I have created: Les Petites Maisons, and the adjoining store, Sonoma's Best. Both of these ventures have been labors of love, and I emphasize both of those words!

When my husband and I purchased the properties, they were in a serious state of disrepair, but we saw huge potential. The store was a time-worn building built in 1913 that had operated for decades as the Von Sydow Deli. Both the store and the 4 cottages required extensive work, and we spent four years restoring them and creating a place of beauty, tranquility, and taste. 

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.

Visiting Sonoma Valley, CA

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

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

Getting Married?

Sonoma Wine Country Wedding Guide
Request Wedding Info



Unearthing the Unexpected On the Sonoma Square

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sonomasquare.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

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

Golf in Napa and Sonoma

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(4/365) :: Golf Thursdays

Image by chispita_666 via Flickr

By Robert P. Farmer

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

Napa Golf Guide
Sonoma Golf Guide
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Sonoma Golf Guide

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by Robert P. Farmer

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

The Vines Romantic - February is Great in Glen Ellen

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By Robert P. Farmer

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

Pigs & Pinot 2010

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pigsPinot2009.jpg
photo credit: Charles Gesell

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

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

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

Driving Range - Three Wine Country Road Trips

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By Sarah Sung

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

Drive One: Napa
Taking the high road through Napa.

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

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barn.jpgThe Russian River Valley's rustic Farmhouse Inn has become a destination that will make you want to stay.


By Martha Ross

The artfully prepared dinners at the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant have always been reason enough to visit. But, these days, you might want to book a room for the night. The inn, nestled amid redwoods in the Russian River Valley, has added eight rustically elegant, light-filled rooms and suites in its new "Barn." The new rooms feature private decks, fireplaces, and luxurious baths.

The Barn follows in the tradition of the inn by paying tribute to the property's agricultural past. The main house, a yellow 1873 structure, was originally home to a family that worked the land. The inn's current owners, brother and sister Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, descend from another Russian River family that raised cattle, fruit trees, and wine grapes.

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Off The Beaten Track in Glen Ellen

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chocolateshop.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

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

Wine Country Personality: Lisa Neisingh of Firefly Lodge

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lisa_fireflylodge.jpgLisa Neisingh of Firefly Lodge

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

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

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

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

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

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

An African Safari in Sonoma Wine Country?

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

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

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



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


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

Conde Nast Traveler: Top Spas for 2009

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

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

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

Going Both Ways

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How to Hit Up Napa & Sonoma in a Single Trip by Courtney Cochran

Rather like the sexes, Napa and Sonoma sometimes seem worlds apart.  Farmers are from Sonoma, people often say, while the technology barons and other members of the monied set call neighboring Napa home instead. 

In some ways these stereotypes ring true: I'm yet to spot a Ferrari in Sonoma but am rarely in Napa for more than 15 minutes before one or even two of the slick machines whiz by me en route to brunch at Bouchon or gallery hopping in St. Helena.

But disparate Ferrari populations aside, become a little better acquainted with these areas and I think you'll find they've got more in common than first meets the eye.  And, as is the case with men and women, they can even get along alright on the same trip - albeit with a little extra planning and flexibility.  

The Kid Stays in the Picture

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

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

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

Traveling While Drinking

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Can the Wine Tourism Trend Save Travel?
By Robert P. Farmer

While it's no new concept in the valleys of Napa or Sonoma, the idea of wine tourism is starting to take root across the globe. From France to Germany and Australia to Chile, people are increasingly booking passage based less on the destination itself than on the wine produced in that destination.

Wine lovers everywhere are discovering that it's more fun to drink their way through vacation than to sit idle on, say, a beach reading the latest trashy best-seller. Wine Tourism is providing a renewed sense of purpose for leisure time and it is not limited to wine aficionados. Thanks in part to concerted efforts by wine-producing regions to espouse their industry and leverage it for fun and profit, the wine tourism trend appears to be something travelers can savor.

Wine Country Personalities: Penny & Doug McKesson

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

Where to Save, Where to Splurge In Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

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

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

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

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

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

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