For the 12th straight year, the spotlight is shining on the California wine industry during the month of September. And considering the size of the Golden State, it makes sense that it would take an entire month to pay tribute.
The Wine Institute issued a detailed media release on this very special endeavor, so rather than reinventing the wheel (not to mention re-writing the release), I thought I’d simply share it with you here. It’s packed with information about the month and many of the events that have been planned in conjunction with it.
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September is the time when California’s winegrape harvest is in full swing. Visitors can experience the excitement of harvest during California Wine Month in September with more than 50 winery events and immersion experiences — from wine festivals and winemaking classes to winemaker dinners, VIP tastings and tours happening around the state.
This September marks the 12th annual California Wine Month, created by Wine Institute to honor America’s top wine-producing state.
“The celebration recognizes the contributions of vintners and growers to our state economy, culture and lifestyle,” said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “With an economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state economy and $114.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy, California wine is an important economic engine for our state and our nation. Our scenic wine regions draw visitors worldwide to enjoy California’s great wine, cuisine and attractions.”
Visit discovercaliforniawines.com to view events by date and order a map of California wine regions and their 138 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).
Event highlights include…
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sept. 2-4 over Labor Day weekend, has been named one of the “10 Best Wine & Food Events in the U.S.” As Sonoma County’s largest charity event, it brings together over 200 of Sonoma’s top winemakers and growers, along with a collection of the area’s best chefs. For three delicious, decadent days, guests can enjoy the Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch, as well as a wine auction, seminars, cooking demonstrations, vineyard tours and multiple winery parties.
Up in redwood country, Mendocino’s annual Winesong Charity Auction & Tasting begins with a Pinot Noir Celebration on Sept. 9 with 25 wineries paired with culinary offerings, overlooking the ocean at Little River Inn. On Sept. 10, guests can stroll through the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens at the Winesong Food & Wine Tasting, enjoying regional vintages, 50 food purveyors and music groups.
The Lake County Wine Auction is Sept.17 at Cache Creek Vineyards in Clearlake Oaks. Enjoy a gourmet dinner and dancing under the stars while mingling with the county’s star winemakers.
Finish out the month at the 2016 Sonoma Valley Crush Sept. 16-18, where wine lovers can get their grape on. For three days, wineries will be offering a variety of harvest activities including grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, samples of just-pressed juice and grapes picked fresh off the vine. Guests can sip wine while it’s fermenting and chat with artisan winemakers about harvest.
Napa Valley boasts many fantastic events and immersion experiences, from barn bashes and winemaker tours to harvest balls. On Sept. 10, the Calistoga Wine Experience combines all the best features of Calistoga: delicious wines, culinary offerings and a spectacular harvest setting. Guests will taste wines from more than 35 Calistoga wineries, meet the owners and winemakers, enjoy appetizers and experience live jazz music.
Head to the beautiful Madera County foothills Sept. 16 for the Madera Wine Trail’s California Wine Month Celebration. This delectable event will offer wine tasting from local wineries, food by a variety of local restaurants and live music. The Madera Vintners Association will also honor and award partners and associates that have influenced the local wine industry, the MVA and its winery members.
Sept. 15-18, check out the lively Lodi Grape Festival for music, food, wine and even a circus. Sept. 16, join the festival’s Wine Cellar tasting experience where nine local wineries will be showcasing a variety of wines from floral Pinot Grigios to the region’s renowned peppery Zinfandels.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA & SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Labor Day weekend is Livermore Valley’s 35th annual Harvest Wine Celebration on Sept. 4-5, where you can visit more than 40 Livermore Valley wineries sharing their finest wines and take in local music, art and food.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Capitola Art and Wine Festival brings together 23 wineries, local restaurants, more than 160 artists, crafts and music for a fun weekend Sept. 10-11 near the beach in Capitola. Gourmet Grazing on the Green in Aptos Village Park on Sept. 24 offers another day to taste fine wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains, along with food and live music.
Buy tickets early for the Los Gatos Fall Wine Walk in the downtown area Sept. 10. Enjoy tastings from over 40 local wineries and food samples at local shops.
SOUTH CENTRAL COAST
Taste of the Town Santa Barbara is on Sept. 11, with tastings from 80 of the finest local restaurants and Central Coast wineries at Riviera Park Gardens. Solvang’s Third Wednesday Wine and Beer Walk on Sept. 21 includes a ticket to sample two wines at five participating wine tasting rooms from 3-7 p.m. Receive a logo glass, tasting vouchers and map to navigate the fun.
Highway 46 West Harvest Block Party, the annual wine tasting event with the member wineries of 46 West, will be held Sept. 3 in Templeton near Paso Robles. Enjoy a casual “mini- wine festival” atmosphere, along with great grub and rockin’ live music. Early ticket purchase is recommended as the event will sell out.
In South Lake Tahoe, Sample the Sierra on Sept. 17 is the area’s only farm-to-fork festival, giving guests the chance to taste the creations of Sierra Nevada talent — from food, wine and spirits to fresh produce and art. Each dish is prepared with local ingredients and paired with just the right wine to create a unique local experience. Don’t miss the event’s Sierra Chefs Challenge, which features local chefs competing for the coveted Sierra Chef title.
The 31st annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival Sept. 9-11 offers wine and food pairings, celebrity chefs, wine seminars, cooking demos, a Farm-to-Tahoe Dinner, the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, kids’ cook-off, a “winemaker for a day” immersion class, “Take a Hike” progressive picnic, gourmet marketplace, culinary competition and grand tasting, winemaker dinners and live entertainment.
At The Los Angeles Times’ The Taste, wine and food are the stars Sept. 2-4. Celebrate Southern California’s vibrant culinary scene at Paramount’s iconic back lot, presenting five events with leading chefs and restaurants in L.A. and tastings. Guests can learn more about wine and food during special seminars and live demos.
Celebrate California Wine Month Temecula-style at CRUSH — A Wine & Culinary Showcase on Sept. 19. This harvest festival features 100-plus wines from more than 30 Temecula Valley wineries, paired with food from local restaurants and farms, and live music. Wine lovers can purchase a “SIP” passport, which offers savings at up to five of the 19 participating wineries any weekday during the month of September.
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If you can’t find something fun to do during California Wine Month, you’re just not trying!