Sonoma to Temecula Valley: Cali’s Best Harvest Season Events

With the tourist season coming to an end, now is the time to truly explore California’s spectacular vineyards
Facebook/Landmark Vineyards

There are many locations around California hosting harvest season events.

Harvest season in California is fruitful indeed! As regions across the state gather their grapes, celebration is in full swing. Home to 43 percent of all wineries in the United States, California just might be the best place to round out the season this autumn by attending harvest events from Sonoma down to Temecula Valley. This time of the year also marks the end of tourist season, which could mean getting more quality time with vintners at their cellar doors.

There are many locations around California hosting harvest season events; here are a few of our favorites:

Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend — Paso Robles, October 17 to 19

Celebrate the season in Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 Wine Region of the Year. Over three days, Paso Robles will host 140 activities including grape stomps, live music, food pairing events, and winemaker dinners. Many wineries will offer harvest discounts on tastings and wine bottle purchases through the weekend.

On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Broken Earth Winery will host a grape stomping competition; all competitors get a free t-shirt, and the winner will receive a bottle of wine.the person who produces the most juice wins a bottle of wine, and each entry costs $25. On Sunday, Brochelle Vineyards will offer maple bacon bites from Templeton Donuts as well as wine to pair with it for only $5. Also on Sunday, Cass Winery will offer all-you-can-eat tacos and a grape stomp for $25, including wine tasting. Friday night, Cass will have a pig roast dinner buffet with live country music.

Download the free harvest weekend guide here.

Price: Tickets for the event are sold individually by vineyard. [

Free Vineyard Walking Tours — Sonoma, October and November

Through the end of November, eight wineries in Sonoma Valley will host self-guided walks among the vines. Maps indicating points of interest will be available in the tasting room of each of the participating wineries to follow at your leisure. Experience how the vines are pruned and what your favorite varietals look like on the vine. At Mauritson Winery in Dry Creek Valley, for example, the half-mile walk gives a preview of the 270-acre property, featuring such grapes as cabernet franc and zinfandel among those used for the 40 different wines produced on-site. Participating vineyards include Schug Carneros Estate WineryStryker Sonoma Estate WinesMauritson WineryLandmark VineyardsFrancis Ford Coppola Winery, and Balletto Vineyards.

On October 26, Francis Ford Coppola will also host a harvest and Halloween carnival.

Harvest Party — Dutton-Goldfield Winery in Sebastopol, October 18

Celebrating their 16th harvest, Dutton-Goldfield Winery is putting on a party that will feature a special flight of wines for the day paired with gourmet bites from Bay Laurel Culinary that draw on local ingredients.

Price: Free with $150 wine purchase or $25 per person.

Autumn in the Vines — Santa Ynez, October 26

Curious about the history of wine in California’s Santa Ynez region? The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum will commemorate the closing of their exhibition “Uncorked” and celebrate the valley harvest with a closing party called, “Autumn in the Vines.” From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 20 wineries will pour some of their best varietals for patrons to sample. The event will also include a sumptuous selection of appetizers in addition to a harvest basket silent auction and wine grab raffle.

Opened in 1961, the museum takes visitors through the history of Santa Ynez, from exhibits about Native Americans and pioneers to costumes and information on the valley itself.

Price: $25 for members and $35 for non-members. Tickets can be either online or at the door. Home to 43 percent of all wineries in the United States, California just might be the best place to round out the season this autumn by attending harvest events from Sonoma down to Temecula Valley.

The 24th Annual Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend — Temecula, November 1 and 2

Temecula Valley wineries will host their 24th Annual Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend on November 1 and 2. The two-day event offers the chance to participate in food and wine tastings at 30 member locations on self-guided tasting tours. Participating wineries include Cougar Vineyard and Winery as well as Miramonte Winery.

If you’re interested in a shuttle service, Grapeline Wine Tours offers an all-inclusive package with transportation to 10 wineries per day, including a souvenir glass, for $199.

Price: Tickets without transportation range from $99 to $69 for a two-day pass.

Harvest on the Coast Celebration Weekend — San Luis Obispo, November 7 to 9

Celebrate the season along the scenic coastline of San Luis Obispo. This wine region’s signature weekend event kicks off with a winemaker dinner Friday night at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort featuring six local winemakers. The menu will include surprise creations by chef Gregg Wangard, who values local produce and farm-fresh cuisine.

The event continues Saturday with the main event: an outdoor Grand Tasting and Wine Auction at Avila Beach Resort that will feature live music, wine tastings, and artisanal food. The auction will include a selection of rare wines, San Luis Obispo regional travel experiences, and other goods. On Sunday, wineries around the county will host open houses with tasting room tours and music.

Prices vary according to pass selection; click here to purchase tickets online.

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Megan Snedden is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.