Where to Go for Holiday Cheer in Wine Country
(Courtesy of Ram's Gate)

Where to Go for Holiday Cheer in Wine Country


The holidays can be a chaotic time of year. After suffering though the post-election blues and passive-aggressive holiday-dinner conversations, you deserve a weekend escape.

Ram's Gate

Sitting atop a picturesque hill in Sonoma, Ram's Gate Winery is the ideal spot to sip, savor and soak up some holiday cheer. With an outdoor hearth, decked-out fir trees, a bright-red 1951 MG convertible Santa "sleigh," and a wine-inspired "Naughty and Nice List," Ram's Gate will leave you feeling festive without have to overdo it on the mistletoe. Stop in for a tasting paired with their chef-curated charcuterie board complete with paté, artisanal cheeses, and honey harvested on site. Make sure you have your Instagram captions ready, the main tasting room is giving us serious #DecoratingGoals. // Tastings ($40-200) are available 10am to 6pm Thursdays through Mondays by reservation only, Closed December 24-26th; 28700 Arnold Dr. (Sonoma), ramsgatewinery.com

(Courtesy of Clos Pegase)

Winter in the Wineries Passport

Calistoga's Winter in the Wineries Passport program has officially made it onto our holiday wish list. With passport in hand, guests will receive a tasting at such Calistoga wineries as Dutch Henry Winery, known for its rich Bordeaux, and Clos Pegase, known for its Heritage Garden and a refreshing glass of chardonnay. You probably don't need a reason to celebrate, but collecting passport stamps will make your festivities all the more enjoyable tolerable. // Passport Program ($50), visitcalistoga.com

Holidays in Healdsburg

This holiday season visitors can revel in the small-town charm of downtown Healdsburg while listening to carolers or while taking a ride on a horse drawn carriage through the town square. Every year, this central gathering spot is adorned with holiday lights and decorations. Guided walking tours take guests through town with tasting stops at boutique wineries such as Gustafson Winery and Sanglier Cellars. // Tours ($55-89) are held at 11am or 5pm daily until December 31st; 1083 Vine St. (Healdsburg), winecountrywalkingtours.com

(Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train)

Santa Train

The train to Santa's Toy Factory in the North Pole (aka Yountville) may depart a little late because Santa made some time for a photo-op at McKinstry Station. Guests embark on a musical interactive journey to Santa's Workshop accompanied by some of Santa's best friends. The kids on board will be kept busy recovering unfinished stuffed bears that Santa left behind to return them back to Santa's workshop where they will be magically transformed for the return journey. Each guest will receive a magical wristband that will light up periodically during the ride as well as hot chocolate to help ward off the cold. Don't worry, parents, adult beverages are available for purchase on board—you'll need it to survive a train full of kids. // Santa Train ($55) will run 7 days a week until December 29th, Closed on December 24-25th; 1275 McKinstry St. (Napa), winetrain.com

(Courtesy of Jordan Winery)

Holiday Tour and Tasting at Jordan Winery

Jordan is offering a special holiday tour this season. Guests are welcomed with a holiday toast of the limited-release Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble before exploring the grounds and the historic oak tank room. Guests will then sit down for a gourmet wine-and-food tasting, curated specifically to highlight Jordan's cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay varietals. Expect to nibble on artisanal cheeses and slurp kabocha squash soup before the indulging in the harvest ratatouille with lamb. The tour will conclude with homemade cookies and hot chocolate by the fire. // Reservations are required for the Holiday Tour ($60) available December 6-9th and 13-16th at 2pm; 1474 Alexander Valley Rd. (Healdsburg), jordanwinery.com

Holiday Trolley

Explore downtown Napa while listening to Christmas music aboard the Holiday Trolley. The free ride will travel between four regular stops: The Oxbow Public Market, where you can shop for hostess gifts such as Anette's artisan crafted chocolates or exotic spices from Whole Spice; the historic Napa mill, where you can have a relaxing dinner at Angele; First & School Streets, which is near your home for the night, the luxury Andaz Hotel; and Main & Pearl Streets, where a short stroll to Gott's Roadside is rewarded with their famous cheeseburger and fries. Enjoy the whole loop or hop on and off at your leisure. // Holiday trolley will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until December 24th; 610 1st St. (Napa), donapa.com

Holiday Carriage Ride

Every Thursday this December, visitors are encouraged to bundle up and enjoy a free horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Napa, departing every 15 minutes from the Napa River Inn. OK, it won't be snowing like it would be if Rory Gilmore took a ride through Stars Hollow or that time when Carrie Bradshaw made tracks with Aleksander Petrovsky, but at least it's warmer in Northern California. // Thursdays December 8,15, and 22nd; 500 Main St. (Napa), donapa.com

(Courtesy of visitpetaluma.com)

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

On December 17, Petaluma locals and visitors can experience a holiday parade of lights as boats stream into the Petaluma River Turning Basin in the heart of historic downtown Petaluma. // December 17; 10 C Street (Petaluma), sonomacounty.com

Sonoma Valley Gingerbread Contest

This year, leave the gingerbread making to the professionals. Amateur gingerbread architects at local Sonoma wineries were asked to draw inspiration from the town's heritage-driven motto, "In Sonoma Valley, the Roots Run Deep." Pick up a map at one of the participating wineries and cast your ballots for your favorite gingerbread McMansion—you'll automatically be entered to win a case of Sonoma Valley wines. // Link to all participating wineries (10am-5pm), sonomavalleywine.com

(Courtesy of Argus Courier)

Petaluma City Lights Driving Tour

In Petaluma, local tradition has participating families and businesses going above and beyond the holiday call of duty to make their light displays the talk of the town. Last year's champion, Michael Cruchon, buys new decorations each year to ensure that his home is dressed to the nines and his visitors are never disappointed in his holiday display. Expect to see every inch of homes and businesses covered in lights and lawn decorations including Santa Claus, reindeer, and inflatable snowmen. Stop by the Petaluma Visitors center and pick up a map for a self-guided tour. // Daily December 1-31st; 210 Lakeville Street (Petaluma),visitpetaluma.com

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