It's harvest in the wine country and for a winemaker that means it's time to start picking grapes (determined primarily based on the sugar content, measured in Brix) but for the rest of is it’s all about picking the right harvest parties to attend. Most wineries have at least one harvest party, starting as early as September and running through November, which range from grape stomps to black tie formals. These are almost always the best parties of the year and usually require reservations. Here are some of our top recommendations this year:
Schramsberg doesn’t just have a party, they have a “Fall Harvest Camp”, where both consumers and professionals get to experience sparkling wine from an educational point of view (yes, this requires lot’s of tasting). Schramsberg is known for their history, immense caves and world-class quality so it’s a great place to learn and explore.
September 11th – 13th, 4 - 8:30 p.m.
Grgich Hills Estate invites everyone to join Vintner Hall of Fame inductee, Mike Grgich, to toast the beginning of the 2011 harvest. This is their 35th annual blessing of the grapes so you can become a part of Valley history and it's a perfect excuse to take a Friday off and stick around. Also, check out their harvest oyster party on the 17th.
Friday, September 16, 10 – 11 a.m.
Duckhorn Vineyards is throwing an evening “Fall Release Party” at the Estate House in Marlee’s Garden, where you’ll celebrate, sip on their finest wines and enjoy the other classy and creative concepts for which Duckhorn is known.
Friday, September 16, 5 – 7 p.m.
Check out Clos Du Val's annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Cookout where you can compete in anything from picking the grapes to smashing them while eating and drinking your way to “liquid prizes” and a healthy buzz.
Saturday, September 17, Time TBD.
Cliff Lede Vineyards' “Time of the Season” harvest event includes live music and a preview of the brand new VIP lounge “Backstage”, where current releases will be paired with seasonal canapés.
Saturday, September 17, 11a.m. – 3 p.m.
Conveniently, Clif Family Winery & Farm is hosting their annual Harvest Party right after Cliff Lede (no relation), where you can join owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford along with their winemakers and staff for an afternoon and evening of relaxed fun. Better known for their hospitality and wine than their energy bars (at least in this Valley), Clif Family has made a name for themselves with their welcoming and lively parties.
Saturday, September 17, 4 – 9 p.m.
The members of the Next Generation in Wine (NG) are hosting an exciting evening of wine, tasty morsels and original live music at Peju and it’s a perfect chance to meet and network with this youthful group who will soon be taking over their family’s vineyards and the valley.
Saturday, September 18, 2 – 5 p.m.
If you miss that one, the Peju family, who already had their grape stomp, is hosting “Hot Harvest Nights”, where you’ll get a chance to meet and dine with the family* and dance under the stars. Taste library wines from the past, new releases from the present, and barrel samples of future vintages as you sip your way around the property before eating and dancing the night away.
Saturday, September 24, 6 – 10 p.m.
Signorello Estate is hosting an afternoon toast, where you’ll enjoy fine cuisine, including bites with Snake River Farms Kobe Beef, prepared by their executive chef and paired with Signorello’s robust and tasty estate wines. Local musician, Alvon Johnson, will be on hand to jam the blues while you stare across the valley from the outdoor patio terrace.
Saturday, October 1, 4 – 7 p.m.
Thinking of heading to Sonoma? I'd reccomend checking out the Harvest Hoedown at Larson Family Winery, where you can experience a day in the life at the winery that includes everyhing from the vine to the bottling line. There will be lots of BBQ to re-energize guests for all of the night festivities, which include live music, raffles, prizes and even a jumpy house for the kids.
Saturday, October 1, 5 –9 p.m.
Franciscan Estate is having their Harvest Party a bit later in the season and has a number of different opportunities for tours in the morning (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) and then a main party in the afternoon (1 – 3:30 p.m.), where they’ll be featuring their best wines, food, and a live performance from Bay Area band, Revolver.
Saturday, October 15, all day.
There are many more parties so check out WineCountry.com for a comprehensive list of harvest parties all over the country and be sure to leave a comment here with a link to your favorite harvest festivities.
(*I'll be at this party as my wife is part of the family)