Six must-attend holiday wine and food tastings in California’s wine country

Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, San Francisco and Livermore wine regions are celebrating with wonderful, not-to-be-missed holiday wine tasting events.

Russian River Valley Vineyard Sunset. Image: Wine Road.

SONOMA, Calif., Oct. 30, 2015 – Fall is a beautiful time to visit Northern California wine country. The vines are changing from green to brilliant yellows, oranges and reds, and the smell of winemaking is in the air. Crisp mornings are met by warm summer days that lead into cool evenings.

Wine country celebrates like no other with wine, food, entertainment and more wine. Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, San Francisco and Livermore wine regions will all be celebrating the holidays by opening up their doors with these wonderful, not-to-be-missed holiday wine tasting events.

Wine Road, Barrel Thief. Image: Wine Road
Wine Road, Barrel Thief. Image: Wine Road

A Wine and Food Affair – Northern Sonoma County

November 7 and 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day

The Wine Road’s “A Wine and Food Affair” is Northern Sonoma County’s premier wine and food event. This tasting is for wine-lovers and foodies alike, and this event is like no other. Each winery perfectly pairs its wine with a favorite recipe. Those recipes are available online for you to try out on your own. As they travel through the rolling hills of Russian River Valley, Santa Rosa, Dry Creek Valley, Anderson Valley and Geyserville visiting 100+ wineries, guests will be swept off their feet with the tremendous variety that each region holds. There is a lot of ground to cover in two short days, but the Wine Road offers an online mapping tool to help you maximize your two days. Come hungry and thirsty, as there is much amazing wine and food to be had during this mouth-watering event.

Tasting suggestions: Carol Shelton, Dutton Estate, Graton Ridge, Hartford Family, Kokomo, Martinelli, Papapietro Perry, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, VML and West Wines.

Tickets: $75 in advance; $100 day of. Designated driver tickets available for $35.

Napa Valley Film Festival Image: NVFF
Napa Valley Film Festival
Image: NVFF

Napa Valley Film Festival, Nov. 11–15

The Napa Valley Film Festival is a wine, film and food lover’s paradise revealed. Over these glorious five days, festivalgoers will have access to the four main wine villages (Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga), 125 films, 150 wineries and 30 chefs. There are galas, wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, filmmaker and actor interviews, and of course, the wonderful independent films we love so dearly. See the world premiere of “SOMM: Into the Bottle,” a red carpet screening of “Spotlight” starring Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Billy Crudup, and the highly anticipated world premiere showing of “Life on the Line” starring John Travolta, Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone.

While the evenings will be full of film-watching, celebrity-ogling and late-night partying, the afternoons are reserved for wine tasting at the four wine pavilions in each town. Check out the “Pair Like a Pro” panel and the Carneros Wine Alliance Wine Experience. While you are strolling about the wine villages, here are some tasting suggestions to wet your palate. This truly is the ultimate film, food and wine experience.

Tasting suggestions: Cairdean, Alpha Omega, Grgich Hills, Favia, Priest Ranch, Raymond and Chandon

Tickets: There are a multitude of passes, event and tasting tickets you may purchase. Day pass tickets are $95 and festival passes start at $275. See their website for full details and event options.

Robert Parker's A Matter of Taste Wine Seminar. Image: RP
Robert Parker’s A Matter of Taste Wine Seminar. Image: RP

Robert Parker’s A Matter of Taste, San Francisco, Nov. 14, 1-6 p.m.

Taste 150 of the world’s best Pinot noirs and Chardonnays from iconic to micro wineries at this inaugural wine event. A Matter of Taste will feature both a walkabout grand tasting as well as master classes to learn from and taste with the pros. All the wines featured at this event have at least a 90-point rating and have been hand selected by Parker’s amazing editorial team. This event boasts the opportunity for guests to compare and contrast 90+ point wines from around the world. Educate your palate and discover the nuances of the large variety of terroir represented.

Tasting suggestions: Sojourn Cellars (their 95-point rated Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot noir is also featured in the Pinot Noir master class), Anaba, Fort Ross Vineyard, Martinelli, Patz & Hall, Gary Farrell, Siduri & Byron.

Tickets: Starting at $50 for American Express holders and members of

Line up the Pinot Noir at Farallon's Pinotfest. Image: Sojourn Cellars.
Line up the Pinot Noir at Farallon’s Pinotfest. Image: Sojourn Cellars.

Farallon’s 17th Annual PinotFest

San Francisco, Nov. 21, 3-6 p.m.

San Francisco’s iconic restaurant Farallon has been “officially” celebrating Pinot noir for 17 years now. Truthfully, the celebration lasts the entire month of November, with a “Great Big Bacchanalia” grand tasting event on the 21st from 3 to 6 p.m. Sixty phenomenal Pinot producers showcase their best juice and are paired with lovely light bites from Farallon’s killer cuisine team.

Tasting suggestions: Keller Estate, Soliste, Flowers, Kosta Brown, Twomey, Cobb, Kendric Vineyards, Alma Rosa, Au Bon Climat, Calera, Failla, Lutum, Peay, Siduri, Williams Selyem and Reuling.

Tickets: $125. This event always sells out. Get your tickets well in advance.

Sonoma Valley's Holiday Open House.
Sonoma Valley’s Holiday Open House.

Holiday Open House

Sonoma Valley, Nov. 2728, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the 32nd time that Sonoma Valley is toasting the holidays the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. This drive about tasting features 20 Sonoma Valley wineries and all the variety that they hold. Taste wines in the very cool grand wine cave at Deerfield Ranch. Fancy the eclectic sculptures and luscious wines at Paradise Ridge, and even get a taste of nuanced Pinot noir at La Rochelle. Ticket prices are low and are inclusive of both days. Meet winemakers, nibble on light bites, check out the gingerbread house competition and get great deals on wines for the holidays.

Tasting Suggestions: Deerfield Ranch Winery, Paradise Ridge Winery, Eric Ross, La Rochelle, Mayo Family, Imagery, Ty Caton, Wellington and Loxton Cellars.

Tickets: $45 per person in advance for both days; $50 at the door. Includes souvenir glass and access to all participating wineries. $10 DD available.

Livermore Valley Wine. Image: LV Wine.
Livermore Valley Wine. Image: LV Wine.

Holidays in the Vineyards

Livermore/Tri Valley, Dec. 56, noon to 4:30 p.m.

The stockings will be hung by the wine rack with care, in hope that St. Nicholas will soon be there, thieving wine from a wine barrel. Wineries will be showcasing their expertly decorated tasting rooms and will be featuring special wines, arts, crafts, holiday music and holiday wine specials to purchase.

Tasting Suggestions: Concannon Vineyard, Darcie Kent, McGrail Vineyards, Steven Kent, Nottingham Cellars, Page Mill, Wente and Occasio Winery.

Tickets: Admission is free, but tasting fees will apply per winery. Guests are encouraged to bring a gift to support Toys for Tots locally.

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