As the rainy season gives way to sun-kissed days, Wine Country beckons with a string of events between spring and fall. There are a flurry of festivities, which can be overwhelming for the delicate social butterfly.
Not to worry. We’re happy to play social director with a line-up of the top 10, not-to-be missed events.
Our list will delight wine-lovers because it highlights events where wine is the main attraction.
Wine Road Barrel Tasting, final day Sunday — This is the 40th anniversary of the tasting, and the focus is on the sneak preview of the barrel samples at wineries in Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River valleys. Those who like what they taste will be inclined to purchase “futures” or barrel samples that typically require another 12-18 months of aging before they’re bottled. Many consider this event a spring rite of passage for Millennials, so expect to see a good supply of twenty-somethings in the crowd, and beware. There may be some over-zealous tasters in the mix. (www.wineroad.com).
Savor Sonoma Valley, March 18 and 19 — The quaint towns of Kenwood and Glen Ellen will charm tasters enroute to wineries throughout the Sonoma Valley. The focus is on barrel tasting, but wineries will also showcase their fine wines. This year wineries won’t be offering food, but there will be food trucks and restaurant options for hungry tasters. (www.heartofsonmavalley.com.)
Pigs & Pinot, March 17 and 18 — The weekend of festivities celebrates the irresistible pairing of pork and pinot. While there’s a string of events, the biggest draw is the Taste of Pigs & Pinot on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. Guests will taste through 60 pinot noirs and two roses from Sonoma County and around the world, paired with pork dishes. The tasting also will be riddled with suspense; the winner and runner up of the Pinot Cup from the annual wine competition will be announced. (www.pigsandpinot.com)
Signature Sonoma Valley, April 7 and 8 — This is a new event to showcase Sonoma Valley, organized by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance, who are no longer participating in the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Organizers are describing Signature Sonoma Valley as a “deep dive” into the wines, the land and the people of the region.
Dozens of cellars will be pouring with the chance to meet iconic winemakers, cutting-edge innovators and multi-generational winegrowers.
On April 8, Signature Package ticket holders get a “behind the vines” tour of a vineyard property before meeting at Beltane Ranch for a farm lunch. (www.sonomavalley.com/signature-sonoma-valley)
Passport to Dry Creek Valley, April 29 and 30 — Tickets to this event are some of the most sought-after in all of Wine Country. This event typically sells out six months in advance, if not more. Dry Creek Valley wineries, 45-plus, will be pouring, and each cellar will have elaborate themed celebrations that will include food and wine pairings. (www.drycreekvalley.org)
West of the West Wine Festival, May 20 — Last year organizers held a Grand Tasting to showcase the wines of West Sonoma County, most acclaimed for cool-climate pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah. This year the group is planning a “Celebration Dinner,” with details to come. (www.westsonomacoast.com)