Whatever your pronunciation of everyone's favorite earthy red vegetable-that's-really-a-fruit, can we all agree that tomato season is one of the finest culinary moments of the year? Now that that's settled, head for Wine Country where a hearty lineup of festivals are scheduled to salute the juicy fruit.
Mod-posh Yountville resort Bardessono tackles tomato-mania with three days of festivities starting Friday, Aug. 28. Check in for a 5-course supper with Hill Family Estate wine pairings at the hotel's restuarant, Lucy; build your own BLTs with local artisanal ingredients from Round Pond Olive Oil, Laura Chenel, and NapaStyle; then, DIY some more at the Bloody Mary Brunch + Bar, loaded with artisanal vodkas and fresh-pressed tomato juice alongside breakfast yummies including croque madames and duck confit hash. // Friday, Aug. 28 through Sunday, Aug. 30 at Bardessono, 6528 Yount St. (Yountville); For information and tickets, go to bardessono.com/things-to-do.
On Saturday, Sept. 5th, this little Wine Country town turns totally tomato, with the "Biggest Little Tomato Fest" in historic downtown. Main Street bustles with tomato and olive oil tastings, contests, food booths, wine, and dancing. Break out your best moves and make tomato jam (get it?). // Saturday, Sept. 5, noon to 4pm in Amador City, Old Highway 49 (2 miles from Sutter Creek), touramador.com
For one night in mid-September, this bucolic Ojai Valley spot near Santa Barbara will celebrate a fruit other than its 100 percent estate-grown grapes. A $25 ticket gets you access to the all-you-can-eat buffet, live music, and door prizes. Toss in extra $10 to get in on the wine tastings and take home your own commemorative glass. Want to shop the farm-fresh produce? Bring cash. // Sept. 19, 4:30-8:30pm at Boccali's, 11675 Santa Paula Ojai Rd. (Ojai), boccalivineyards.com
Tomatoes are the pride of this Windsor Certified Farmers’ Market gala, now in its 14th year, which displays more than 50 locally grown varieties, plus plenty of peppers, including Japanese fushimi chiles and Chinese five-color chiles. Rounding out the fun is a rainbow-hued tomato tasting bar, local produce of all kinds, salsa stands, food booths, live music, and crafts. // Sept. 20 at Windsor Town Green, 701 McClelland Dr. (Windsor), windsorfarmersmarket.com
Did you know there are more than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes? Taste as many exotically named tomatoes as you can possibly stomach at the K-J fest, featuring Blue Fruit, Peace Vine, Ding Wall Scotty, Pink Ping Pong, Azoychka Russian, Blaby Special, Hillbilly, McDreamy, Mortgage Lifter and Czechoslovakian Stupice (just to name a few). But save room for tomato-centric creations (cotton candy! macarons!) from some 50 notable chefs. Live music, cooking demos, and lots of wine, too. // 5007 Fulton Road, Santa Rosa, kj.com