Nothing could be finer than to be on the Sonoma wine trails for a warm, sunny weekend in the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek or Alexander Valley! The annual Winter Wineland event, held January 18-19, 2014, treated wine aficionados to new releases, barrel tastings and food pairings at over 130 wineries and tasting rooms. Each winery celebrated the the Winter Wineland theme with festivities and elaborate wintery decor.
The biggest decision for me was where to start! Being a huge Pinot Noir lover, I chose to concentrate my wine tasting primarily in the Russian River Valley, but did venture out to Dry Creek late on Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect ~ mid-70’s, sunny and dry. So dry, in fact that the creeks were non-existent and the fields were dusty and in dire need of a rain shower; talk filled the air about what the drought meant for future vintages.
Surprisingly though, the crowds were small and fairly spread out–no buses or wild parties of 20-something-year-olds to ruin the day. Children were not allowed, nor were there many dogs which made for a pleasant tasting experience all the way around.
Most of the wineries offered four or more wines for tasting along with a small taste of artisan food pairings. It was a great way to visit a slew of wineries for one or two tastes with a bite of food. Wine discounts were abundant and several wineries offered free shipping. A few of the wineries even had live music, enticing people to sit, sip and stay.
The event was very well-organized and the maps were plentiful and easy to follow. Not all the wineries in the Northern Sonoma area participated in the event, but they were in the minority. Along the way, I met many friendly people from all over, many from the Bay area. On Sunday, the San Francisco 49-ers were playing rival Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs which made for friendly banter. True die-hard fans wove their way to wineries along the trail televising the afternoon game.
Concurrently, the Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County piggybacked with one-day and three-day wine road tickets to over 80 wineries in the same areas. The weekend was one big happy wine barrel of fun! Looking forward to a repeat performance next year, same time!
Stay tuned as I will be recapping many of the Winter Wineland wineries with photos in my next series of blogs. Cheers!