Experience Harvest at Sonoma County Wineries
Harvest is one of the best times to visit Sonoma County wineries, to witness the hustle and bustle of sorting, stemming, crushing and the beginning of fermentation. Some wineries even offer hands-on experiences so in-depth you might feel that you’re part of the winemaking team.
The idea is so popular that a Sonoma County Grape Camp sells out each year for an immersion into everything from picking grapes to creating your own bottled wine blends (the September event just passed, but plan now for the 2018 camp at sonomagrapecamp.com).
If you’ve ever dreamed of crafting your own wine, here are some places to see the secrets and share the fun:
Ram’s Gate Winery, Sonoma-Carneros
The posh winery is a favorite for “secret” experiences like sipping fresh-pressed juice before it transforms into wine. Now, a new experience helps you understand all the details of winemaking, with by-appointment monthly Wine Workshops offered through November 19. The seminars are designed to be complex but uncomplicated,” led by a Certified Sommelier and diving into its science, geology, history, geography and tasting.
28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-721-8700, ramsgatewinery.com.
This annual event brings so much more than just showcasing award-wining wine and beautiful food. Attractions include educational demonstrations, a cooking competition, expanded interactive tastings, and a focus on local and artisanal products. The highlight remains the Grand Tasting, with three days of sampling from 100+ wineries, including the opportunity to purchase bottles at a Fair-direct discount. Don’t miss the marketplace tasting seminars where you can learn about farming wine grapes, winemaking, and wine appreciation, directly from the winery owners and winemakers. Another don’t miss: the World Championship Grape Stomp for messy fun and great prizes like cold, hard cash.
Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, harvestfair.org. Prices vary per event.
One of the delights of this lovely 20-acre estate in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains is the tours that give you a sneak peek into the wine process. The strolls last about 15 minutes, passing right past the crush pad, with your guide narrating all along the way and explaining everything from the estate grape varieties, to trellising to winemaking. For this event, you can be the first to try new wine club releases, enjoy delicious food from local vendors, play a game of bocce ball, groove to live music, or just kick back and smell the rosés. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $45. Start the day early, though, at 10:30 a.m., with an exclusive wine and cheese pairing seminar led by Landmark winemaker Greg Stach and cheese expert Sophie Boban-Doering. Learn about rare cheeses from around the world, and how match Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and library selections. 10:30 a.m. to noon; $60.
101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, 707-833-0053, landmarkwine.com.
D'Argenzio Winery and Tasting Room 22nd Annual Italian Country Harvest Party (October 7, 2017)
It’s a taste of Italy in downtown Santa Rosa, as the D'Argenzio family celebrates friends, new and old. The fun includes an Italian feast, a grape stomp, bocce, live music, dancing, and tastings. On tap: many newly released wines, and limited edition wines. Lots of wine, actually - last year, the winery opened 28 different types, yowza! Event time: 4 to 8 p.m.; $45.
1301 Cleveland Avenue, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466, www.dargenziowine.com.
AFFAIRS of the VINE, Wine Boot Camp
Founded in 1998, the specialty company is on hiatus this year as owner Barbara Drady celebrates some downtime and a wonderful cancer-free diagnosis. But look for her to be back in business this late fall, doing what she loves to do and coordinating day-long training programs with hands on experiences in the vineyards and the cellars of some of Sonoma County’s best wineries. Highlights of the adventures include working in the vineyard, an aromatic team building competition, food and wine pairing workshop, lunch in the vineyard or winery, winery tour including barrel sampling, wine blending workshop, and a team building wine tasting.
696 Elliott Lane, Sebastopol, 707-874-1975, affairsofthevine.com/wine-boot-camp.