We don't usually see the beginning of the grape harvest until August (our busiest time in the wine country), but spring in Sonoma Wine Country is pretty busy and just about our favorite time of year. All around the Russian River Valley we see vineyard crews pruning vines getting ready for the growing season. The worst of winter is over and Spring is just getting ready to bust out all over.
I just heard about the first hints of budbreak from a couple of the wineries. Hold your breath now...the vineyards can't stand any hard freezes during this time. You wouldn't think something like this would get us all excited but just look...the beginnings of that amazing wine in your glass.
It is also the time of year when some of our favorite events take place. From Charlie Palmer’s Pigs and Pinot event to the ever popular Wineroad's Barrel Tasting Weekends and the Dry Creek Valley's Passport weekend at the end of April, this is a great time to plan a visit. There are a lot of activities to choose from, but we decided to focus on these three of our favorite Wine Country Events.
Pigs and Pinot will be celebrating its 9th year March 21st & 22nd. Hosted by Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, the event is one of the most sought after tickets in Wine Country every year. Celebrity chefs from around the country fly into Sonoma County for a 2 day culinary extravaganza. Events range from Gala Dinners to seminars to the Pinot Cup. Our advice is to book your tickets as soon as they’re available. This event sells out quickly every year. If you haven’t already booked your tickets but are interested in attending; get on the waitlist and cross your fingers. We suggest signing up for their mailing list as they send out notification of ticket sales well in advance. This event will continue to grow (a favorite of the locals) and we encourage our guests to try it at least once. Pigs and Pinot is usually held around the third weekend of March so mark next year’s calendar now!
The Wineroad's 36th Annual Barrel Tasting will kick off on February 28th this year. For the last several years the event has expanded to two weekends due to the high demand for tickets. Visitors can purchase weekend passes or Sunday-only tickets. The event features wineries from the Russian River , Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. Each weekend over 100 wineries participate in the event offering visitors a chance to taste wines still in the barrel. A few words of wisdom from the Farmhouse Inn Concierge Team: Sunday-only is a great way to go if you have a limited amount of time to spend in wine country (not quite as busy on Sundays), getting a driver is a must- the event is highly monitored by law enforcement, and book your hotel and dinner reservations well in advance. The two weekends bring over 30,000 people to Sonoma County so hotel rooms and dinner reservations can be hard to come by at the last minute. It's a good idea to check which wineries will and won’t be participating- and have a plan in place before you arrive. Take a look at Google maps to get an idea of the scope of the event.
Another favorite event this time of year is Passport to Dry Creek Valley. The last weekend in April will be their 25th anniversary so you can bet they’ll be pulling out all the stops. Weekend tickets to this event can be a bit more expensive than Barrel Tasting Weekend but the level of offerings tend to reflect that. Again we strongly encourage visitors to book a driver and to make their hotel and dinner plans well in advance. Just like Barrel Tasting, it is wise to make a plan in advance. If you’re considering attending we hope you take a look at the event activities brochure that they provide. If you plan on visiting that weekend but won’t be attending the event than you can safely visit wineries in the Russian River and Alexander Valleys without having to purchase a ticket.
Make your plans to visit wine country soon; we would love to see you and introduce you to some of our favorite little secrets. These events are held annually; if you don’t make it out for a visit this year definitely plan for it next year.
If you have questions about any of the wine country events, arranging for tours or transportation , restaurant reservations or accommodations please contact one of the Farmhouse Inn Concierge Team...