Sonoma vineyard, October 2011
There’s only one reason why to visit wine country in fall, and that’s “harvest.”
Grapes hang full and heavy on the vines in the fall, waiting patiently in their lush beauty for the buzz and hubbub of the harvest. They’re just beautiful. And grape harvest? It’s exciting, it’s fun and it’s romantic. If you’re lucky (or a good planner) you might be able to get tickets for one of the harvest parties some wineries host that time of year.
While Napa’s the first name that comes to mind when someone says “California wine country,” we–and may of us in the Bay area–favor Sonoma, home to many fun and funky wineries that make great wine. As Napa got snootier and more expensive, it also got less interesting, in our view. (Never mistake an expensive wine for a good wine. The two don’t always correlate.)
Autumn visits to Dry Creek and Alexander Valley vineyards are a must-do for us, and we have our short-list of favorite Sonoma tasting rooms.
Oh, you want to know what they are? Ok.
Here’s a little secret: Some of the most beautiful tasting rooms–with sweeping wine country views and elaborate shops–also feature some of the worst wine. So we might drop by Viansa for its lovely setting, but you won’t catch us drinking that wine. No, for that we’ll head over to one of our favorites.
Many of the Sonoma wineries offer tours and tastings. We haven’t done a jeep tour jet, but many wineries now offer to zoom visitors around their vineyards and explain a bit about their process. It’s been on our list for too long.
Why haven’t we taken a Jeep tour?
Mostly because we prefer to visit wine country during the week, when it’s not overrun with visitors, and the tours are usually only held on weekends. But one day…
So here we are on the first day of fall. Autumn is the loveliest time of year to go almost anywhere, so our wine country has stiff competition. As I write this we’re heading to Sicily for wine harvest there. We’ve also been in the wine region of northern Italy during grape harvest. It’ll be fun to compare the different experiences.
Next year, we’re skipping harvest altogether and spending an entire month in Santa Fe, NM.
I’m thinking that we need to expand autumn by a few months. Less cold winter, less hot summer and more gorgeous fall. What do you think–want to start a movement?
Men I love wandering around Nicholson Ranch in March 2014.