Wine Crush and Harvest Festivals 2018
The grapes are hanging heavy on vines all across Sonoma County, as the luscious fruit ripens for its destiny: to be made into fine wine.
Harvest is one of the best times to visit our 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. But fair warning – harvest tours a very popular adventure, so it’s best to plan now for your autumn Sonoma Sneakaway. Here are some great events to keep you in that wine frame of mind:
Taste of Sonoma (Sept. 1, 2018)
Taste of Sonoma sells out each year, as thousands of guests join hundreds of chefs, wineries and artisan food purveyors, all gathering for a full day of nibbling and sipping at Sonoma State University's prestigious Green Music Center. Besides sampling so much terrific food and wine, Taste of Sonoma is educational, too. Wine Talks are popular seminars, lively panel discussions, and focused tastings with renowned winemakers, while several VIP lounges offer special reserve wines and chef tastings. Tickets are $150-$255.
Purchase tickets at tasteofsonoma.com.
Sonoma Valley Crush (September TBA, 2018)
Experience harvest, hands-on, over three exciting days as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at every aspect from picking grapes, to crush, to fermentation. Interactive fun at more than a dozen wineries across Kenwood and Glen Ellen includes grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, and tasting fresh pressed juices like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. One exciting extra is tasting how a wine evolves while it's fermenting.
Cost for a Crush Wine Tasting Pass is $35 ($45 at the door) for one day, or $50 ($55 at the door) for two-plus days, bringing full access to harvest activities and wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Purchase passes at heartofsonomavalley.com.
Sonoma County Wine Auction (Sept. 22, 2018)
Held at the beautiful new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley, the fundraising gala features fine foods from chef Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co., and executive chef Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And it’s for a great cause: the Auction has raised more than $29 million for local Sonoma County charitable partners over the years. Mark your calendars for Sept. 20, too, as the auction kicks off with a welcome party, and Sept. 21 for vintner dinners at top wineries across Sonoma County.
Purchase tickets at sonomacountywineauction.com.
Harvest Dinner at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sept. 22, 2018
Go behind the scenes on a tour with Mike Crumly, vice president of production. The tour includes a food and wine pairing featuring a very special library selection served in the grapevine covered arbor. Then, tuck into a seasonal harvest-inspired and wine paired three-course supper, with live music. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $150.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-996-7256.
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (Sept. 28-30, 2018)
It’s the 121st Anniversary of this party at the Sonoma Plaza. The festivities kick off on Friday, Sept. 28 with a marvelous costume gala with tasting great wines and delicious food followed by dancing under the stars to live music. The fun keeps going throughout the weekend with the Sip & Shop, wine tasting, artists' showcase with more than 80 artists, a grape stomp competition, fire fighter demonstrations, “Get Your Glow On” night parade, live music, and a Kids Zone. Tickets for the gala are $90-125.
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, 453 1st Street E., Sonoma, 707-996-2109.
44th Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair (Oct. 5-7, 2018)
The annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair 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. Prices vary per event.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa.
Harvest Dinner at Lambert Bridge Winery (Oct. 6, 2018)
The winery is Architectural Digest beautiful, with the tasting room looking through a long wall of wood-framed glass into a barrel room glimmering with votive candles and glowing candlestick chandeliers. For the Harvest Party, guests get to go inside the barrel room, and also check out the crush pad, before sitting down to a lavish supper at communal tables on the lawn. It’s posh, with such delights as oyster tasting stations, but also relaxed, sometimes attended to by the very well behaved winery dogs. 5 to 9 p.m.; $175.
Lambert Brige Winery, 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-4675.
Landmark Vineyards Harvest Festival (Oct. 6, 2018)
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 barbecue, 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.
Landmark Vineyards, 101 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood, 707-833-0053.
D'Argenzio Winery 23rd Annual Italian Harvest Party (Oct. 6, 2018)
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.
D'Argenzio Winery, 1301 Cleveland Ave., Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466.
Dutton-Goldfield 20th Anniverary Harvest Party, Oct. 6, 2018
The celebration features new wine releases, food pairings, Thistle Meats on site with their artisanal charcuterie, and live music by singer songwriter Sebastian St. James. Join in a toast to the hardworking winemaking team. Noon to 4 p.m.; tastings are $30.
Dutton-Goldfield Winery, 3100 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, 707-823-3887.