A Holiday Wine Country Vacation Planner

XmasCardsTwo boxes of holiday greeting cards are sitting on the floor next to my desk. The cards are waiting patiently to be opened, written on, placed in envelopes, sealed, addressed, stamped and mailed.

Yes, I’m one of those people who still sends Christmas cards. To me, email greetings are nice, but they don’t count. Why? Because they require virtually no effort. When I receive a Christmas card from a friend, I appreciate the fact that they took the time to a) think of me, b) buy a card for me, c) write a few lines on the card, and d) buy a stamp.

An email blast? Not the same. A Facebook greeting? “Merry Christmas to all 2,479 of my closest friends!” Not even close.

So, after writing today’s blog, I will sit down at my desk, open those boxes of cards, grab my address book (yes, a real book with names, addresses and phone numbers handwritten in it), and get to work.

But first, I need to make room on said desk… which calls for a clearance of all the notes, flyers, media kits and other vinous miscellany that has been piling up since… well… the last time I cleared the desk.

Hopefully, some of the information that follows will help you plan your next wine country vacation or long weekend…

  • On the weekend of February 7-8, California’s hub of Alsace-style wines will play host to the 2015 edition of Alsace in Anderson Valley. Saturday events include an educational session, a grand tasting (featuring international wines and small plates), a food/wine pairing demonstration and a winemaker dinner. On Sunday, the local wineries will host open houses with their own special events. The various Saturday events are individually ticketed.

Info: http://www.avwines.com/alsace-festival/

  • Napa Valley’s Sequoia Grove Winery has launched “A Taste for Cabernet,” a private tasting room experience that presents the winery’s limited-production wines in the context of pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with food. The 75-minute seminar, led by wine educator Dean Busquaert, guides guests through a tasting of Sequoia Grove’s single-vineyard Cabs and the top-tier blend, Cambium. The experience is offered three times daily for $50 per person.

Info: dbusquaert@sequoiagrove.com

  • Looking for a place to unwind and re-connect with your significant other? The Applewood Inn, located in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, is just the place. Secluded and romantic, it’s a peaceful refuge with a unique spa, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a well-curated wine list.

Info: www.applewoodinn.com

  • Not every wine bar in Sonoma County specializes in Sonoma County wines. For Exhibit A, we offer Bergamot Alley, where (in-season) soccer games can be enjoyed with bottlings from Spain and France. “We’re just trying to have a little fun,” says co-owner (with Sarah Johnson) Kevin Wardell of the eclectic lineup of entertainment, which also has included movie screenings on Monday nights, bluegrass music, and a disco night on Valentine’s Day. Of the non-California wine list, Wardell says the idea is not to insult his home winegrowing region, but to celebrate the differences.

Info: www.bergamotalley.com

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Tomorrow: A winery that takes the holiday season seriously.

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