Tweet Print This Page
Email This Post
Welcome to the minimal wine country aesthetic. It’s the time of year when you can look out on a barren vineyard and clearly see the stark lines and architecture of how it was laid out. Each vine, almost black in the rain, is a skeleton of its lush harvest past.
Likewise, less is more when it comes to the winter wine-tasting experience. Less traffic and less commotion at the winery equals more time for you to spend learning from the winemakers.
Then, all of a sudden, a weekend like this one rolls along. It’s as if every winery throws open their barn doors for a mass party before falling back into winter’s low gear.
The Winter Wineland event leads the pack with wineries going all out in themed regalia, seasonal food pairings and the occasionaly deep dig into library wines.
But that’s only the start. From hiking and wine tasting with the ghost of Jack London to cracking crab legs over chardonnay, here’s your wine weekend cheat sheet.
Wine Road’s 21st annual homage to the down time of winter kicks off Saturday and Sunday at more than 100 wineries in Russian River, Alexander and Dry Creek valleys.
“With so many family wineries in Sonoma County, it’s really like they’re inviting you into their home for a post-holiday party,” says Tess Kofoid, marketing director at Thumbprint Cellars.
Their downtown Healdsburg tasting room is holding its fourth annual “Mac Off” mac ’n’ cheese smackdown, pitting a pulled-pork concoction against the “Mac Attack” Strudel (aka “the Spiral Swine”) and a top-secret entry. Hanna Winery is running with a football tailgating theme and Clos DuBois Winery promises to dial in the flat-screen TVs for weekend playoff football. Primus frontman turned winemaker, Les Claypool, of Claypool Cellars in Sebastopol, will be spinning his funky vinyl collection in his “fancy booze caboose.” And Sbragia Family Vineyards turns its hillside winery overlooking Dry Creek Valley into an alpine ski lodge with plenty of fire pits and heaters to go around.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $52.54 for weekend ticket. Get tickets, program and map at www.wineroad.com.
Jack London’s Birthday Hike and Wine Tasting
Never mind that his birthday was actually Jan. 12, 1876. On Sunday, Jack London State Historic Park and neighboring Benziger Winery team up to celebrate the Glen Ellen author’s birthday with a guided hike of Beauty Ranch, followed by a kick-off-your-boots, biodynamic-wine tasting at Beniziger. The tour will focus on the “Call of the Wild” author’s sustainable agriculture experiments, especially the terraced farming methods he implemented on his estate.
10 a.m. Sunday, Jack London State Historical Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Hike and tasting $15/parking $10. www.jacklondonpark.com.
Art, Food and Wine Experience at Kenwood Vineyards
Since 1975, Kenwood Vineyards’ Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon has featured stunning labels adorned with world-class art. Here’s your chance to ogle a few of the original paintings, including the inaugural (and somewhat controversial) “Naked Lady” by David Lance Goines. Look for plenty of food pairings as well.
1 p.m. Saturday, Kenwood Vineyards, 9592 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. $30. www.kenwoodvineyards.com.
Chateau St. Jean Crab and Chardonnay Feast
Consider it a crab feed for those who nosh rather than eat. The pretty Sonoma Valley winery saves you the labor (and mess) by cracking your favorite seasonal crustacean, the Dungeness crab, for you — after importing it fresh from Bodega Bay. Wash it down on the patio with the newly released Durell Vineyard Chardonnay.
11:30 a.m. Saturday. 8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. $40. Seating is limited, RSVP to (877) 478-5326. www.chateaustjean.com.
Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014, firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @becksay.
Copyright © 2012 PressDemocrat.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only