September is California Wine Month!
I heart September. Growing up on a vineyard in Sonoma Valley, September has always been a special time of year. It’s the month when my family gets to see the fruits of our labor, literally. I went home for harvest last week (we sell to a large sparkling wine label, and so we harvest our grapes when the sugar content is much lower than still wine grapes). It’s always a kick for me to see my backyard being taken over by the crew of pickers with all their tractors and equipment at 5 a.m. The crush is on!
While other vineyards across the state are harvesting this month, our own governor has declared September as California Wine Month. In fact, we are currently working with one of our clients, California Grown , to promote not only buying California Wine, but getting out and experiencing the harvest related events and festivals this month – and there are MANY to choose from! Check out this link for a full list of events: California Wine Events. Being the loyal Sonoman that I am, I must recommend one in particular that is happening later in the month: the 110th annual Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, September 28-30 in Sonoma’s downtown historic plaza . It’s the Valley’s second most festive weekend of the year (first is the Fourth of July, but that’s a totally different experience and I won’t even go there). I have been many-a-year, and this festival truly has something for everyone.
During the festival the downtown plaza is split in half: the west side of the park is local art & jewelry from around the Bay Area, and the east half is local wineries, each with their own tent where you can sample many varietals; many are limited labels. In the middle of the plaza is a plethora of food booths, and a small amphitheater with a packed schedule. There is so much to see and do in the park, and you can also wander the square’s perimeter and shop or visit one of the many wine country eateries. Here are a few “insider tips” that I would recommend. If you end up going (I am!) please drop a line and let me know what you thought! You can check out the Web site for a list of events, but be sure not to miss:
- Vintage Festival Parade – this parade is nothing but a small town struttin’ their stuff, including marching bands, floats, fire engines, wineries, costumes, community groups, etc. I myself have been a participant many years growing upJ. This year’s parade is planned for Sunday at noon.
- Grape Stomp – this event happens on Sunday afternoon, but is definitely one of the highlights. Ages 5 to 85 come out to compete in teams of two!
- Whiskey Thieves – I grew up with these guys and they are a great band. Friendly blues that you can dance to or just enjoy while you’re sippin’ chardonnay. They play around the Bay Area but will sound better on home turf, no doubt. Saturday on the country-blues stage.
- Eats around the plaza (if you don’t want the booth food) – My top two choices hands down are the Swiss Hotel and The Girl and the Fig.