Celebrate the abundant and delectable Wine Country harvest with wine tasting and food pairings at the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa, California. This three-day event features vintages from more than 100 wineries, craft beer and cider tasting, food pairings, chef demonstrations, seminars by wines experts, and more.
Running September 30-October 2, 2016, this year’s gala is as grand as ever, in its theme of “Taste the Best of Sonoma County.”
It’s worth planning for now, since in a special bonus, early birds who purchase full Harvest Fair tickets by September 29 get a nice reward, with Grand Tasting tickets at two for $100 (normally $55 each), or a 3-Day Pass for $125 including gate admission and tastings (normally $140 each).
At the heart of the Harvest Fair is the Tasting Pavilion (age 21 and older), which lets guests sample award-winning varietals from the year's Professional Wine Competition and savor innovative cuisine from the year's Professional Food Competition. These all-inclusive tastings (5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) also include craft beer and cider producers.
If you just want to wander around without sampling all that food and wine, you can enter the grounds for just $5 per day. There’s plenty to see, with events running 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Your gate admission also includes entry into the Wine Country Marketplace, where you can sit in on a wine tasting seminar and even purchase gold medal wines to take home.
The Marketplace will remain open after Fair closing on Sunday and for a limited time on Monday for a Wine Clearance Blow-Out Sale. All wines in the store will be marked down 20%. Fair patrons that purchased wine during the three day event will be given a customer appreciation coupon to save an additional 10% off any clearance sale purchases.
Stock up for the home, too! The marketplace is a wonderland for browsing and buying hand-crafted local products and unique wares, such as jewelry, clothing, soap and olive oil.
There’s more free fun in store, like chef cooking demonstrations, short-course wine seminars, live music performances, a honeybee workshop, art shows, a classic car show, and crazy grown-up fun like pumpkin bowling, apple slingshots and baking pumpkin pies in real Easy Bake ovens.
Other notable activities over the weekend include the World Championship Grape Stomp competitions, harvest workshops, a port and chocolate pairing ($5) and tastings of your choice from the 20 best of class award-winning wines ($20 for 4 tastes with souvenir glass).
Besides wonderful eating and drinking, the fair also celebrates the people behind the wine, beer, cider, and food.
There’s still more. Another one of the most anticipated highlights of the weekend is the Sonoma County Harvest Fair - Harvest Awards Night @ Luther Burbank Center for The Arts. Awards Night celebrates the winners for best in professional wine, food and agriculture, all while enjoying award-winning wines and a gourmet dinner by John Ash & Co. Tickets for the September 25 gala are $125.
All in all, it's about community. Rather than presenting million-case vintages from large wineries, the Harvest Fair places its emphasis on the real Sonoma County wine and craft brew community, from the pioneers to the new upstarts, and the carefully crafted food that pairs so well with their vintages.
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is held each fall (September 30-October 2, 2016) at Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa; all-inclusive tasting tickets are on sale now at HarvestFair.org or at the Box Office.