Sunny or not, summer is waning. The kids have trudged to school, and most family vacations are over, lingering only in our memories, and in digital photos.
Fortunately, fall in Wine Country packs its own special punch, with a series of long-established, much-loved annual festivals devoted to music, art, movies, local history, aviation and even tomatoes.
So don’t slow down. Just shift gears. To help you get the season started in the proper spirit, here are six iconic September events:
Sept. 12-13 — Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival. Sun, water and live music add up one big weekend party on the river. The 39th annual two-day music fest at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville traditionally devotes one day each to jazz and blues. This year, the first day features smooth-jazz instrumentalists Dave Koz on saxophone and Rick Braun on trumpet, plus R&B singer Kenny Lattimore. The second day’s line-up includes Chicago blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy, the Taj Mahal Trio and singer-songwriter Jackie Greene. General admission: $55 for one day; $90 for two. Tickets and information: russianriverfestivals.com.
Sept. 14-19 — Sonoma Plein Air Week. Sonoma County’s climate, light and scenery make it ideal for artists who prefer to paint outdoors. This 13th annual celebration includes the chance to observe three dozen nationally renowned plein air artists at work, as well as displays, demonstrations, a market and a four-day exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in downtown Sonoma, peaking with a gala and auction Sept. 18 at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Information: sonomapleinair.com.
Sept. 16-21 — Wine Country Film Festival. What’s better than good movies? Good movies at wineries. The 29th annual celebration of cinema features dozens of films all over the world. The program this year includes outdoor screenings at the Deerfield Ranch Winery. Other venues include the Kenwood Restaurant and the Orpheus Winery in Kenwood, and Dunbar School in Glen Ellen. Tickets for individual films cost $8-15, with a festival pass good for all films priced at $75 and available in advance only. wcff.us, 935-3456.
Sept. 25-26 — Valley of the Moon Festival. Wine Country is rich with annual festivals with long histories, but this event has a head start on most of them. Founded in 1897, the city of Sonoma’s annual celebration of the area’s rich natural bounty is now in its 118th year. The highlight is the evening gala Sept. 25 at the Sonoma Barracks on Sonoma Plaza, with food, wine and live music by Moustache Harbor. $75. The celebration continues Sept. 26 on the plaza with the blessing of the grapes, children’s activities, a firefighters’ water fight, live bands and more. 996-2109, valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com
Sept. 26 — Heirloom Tomato Festival. What can you say about tomatoes? Quite a lot, actually. The 19th annual edition of this revered local event offers garden tours, live music, seminars, tastings and food and wine pairings, featuring more than 150 grown at Kendall Jackson’s estate culinary gardens. 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. $95-$175. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton. 433-6000. Kj.com.
Sept. 26-27 — Wings Over Wine Country. Up to 20,000 people show up every year to gaze skyward in awe at this two-day air show featuring vintage planes, war birds, aerobatics and more.
This year’s stars are the Snowbirds, the nine sleek, red-and-white jets of the Canadian armed forces’ aerobatic, tight-formation flight team. Opens at 9 a.m. both days. $8-$18 in advance; $10-$20 at the gate; age 10 and younger free. Presented by the Pacific Coast Air Museum. Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, 200 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa. 566-8380, wingsoverwinecountry.org.