By Susan Johnston
A fall California vacation in Wine Country is a sensory feast. Lush vineyards stretch in every direction, beckoning to passerby with their vividly colored leaves and rich, ripened grapes. Aromatic wines delight the palette, and wineries come to life during grape crushing season in mid-September.
In Sonoma Valley, 16 area wineries will host Sonoma Valley Crush Festival on September 18 and 19. Festivities include wine tastings and food pairings, discussions with winemakers, live music, exclusive tours and more.
Napa Valley also welcomes visitors to its harvest celebrations. Raymond Vineyards invites guests to crush grapes with their feet and sample Raymond wines during the Harvest Stomp and Pick-up Party on September 25. The Cruisin’ Calistoga Beer & Wine Festival, featuring custom and classic cars, pasta and chili cook-offs, and beer and wine tastings, is also scheduled for September 25.
Insider tip: Take a jaunt from the wine country to San Francisco to check out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). An exhibit exploring the evolution of wine’s visual identity, How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now, runs November 2010 to April 17, 2011. Rest your wine-weary head at either of these notable San Francisco hotels: the St. Regis San Francisco and the Orchard Garden Hotel, which is among San Francisco’s first green hotels.
Susan Johnston lives and writes from the Boston, MA area. She enjoyed visiting Napa and Sonoma a few years ago and can’t wait to go back.