Ready to experience a fabulous winter wine tasting along the Wine Road? Then it’s time to buy your tickets to the Wine Road’s 30th Annual Winter Wineland event!
As I reviewed this year’s program, I was struck by how lucky I am to live here and be able to attend the Wine Road events. Why are the attendees so lucky? There are so many reasons, starting with Sonoma County wines continuing to garner acclaim from major wine reviewers and renowned wine competitions. But having spectacular wines is just the beginning.
Experience One-on-one Conversations
The wineries along the Wine Road come in all sizes, but many are small, family-owned businesses. As such, the folks working the events and talking to you as you sip are the owners, winemakers, extended family members, local grapegrowers, and the winery staff, including assistant winemakers and cellar workers. Take a moment and give the aforementioned group some thought.
How often do you get to talk to the owner of a winery, or the winemaking staff, or the person who grew the grapes? This isn’t the focus of Winter Wineland, but it’s an amazing side benefit, and one I don’t take for granted.
A list of all the owners who will be available for conversations during Winter Wineland would be long, so I’ll just highlight a few for you. If you visit one of these wineries, take a moment to talk with the owners. They’d love to meet you and share a story or two.
Amphora Winery – winery owner and winemaker Rick Hutchinson
Armida Winery – winery owners and brothers Steve and Bruce Cousins
Bucher Wines – winery owners and winegrowers John and Diane Bucher
Carol Shelton Wines – winery owner and winemaker Carol Shelton
Due Ruscelli Vineyards – winery owners Mike and Melissa Sloan (Mike is also the winemaker)
Harvest Moon Estate & Winery – winery owner, winegrower and winemaker Randy Pitts
J. Rickards Vineyards & Winery – owner and winegrower Jim Rickards
Mengler Family Wines – winery owner and winemaker Chris Mengler
Mounts Family Winery – owners Lana and David Mounts (David is also the winemaker and winegrower)
Viszlay Vineyards – owner, winegrower and winemaker John Viszlay
Talk to the Winemakers
With the owner list getting too long, let’s move on to a few of the winemakers that will be around during the Winter Wineland weekend. Again, in many of these cases, the winemaker is also the owner and winegrower.
Baldassari Wines – winemaker and co-owner Matt Michael
Colagrossi Wines – winemaker and owner Craig Colagrossi
De La Montanya Winery – winemaker, owner and winegrower Dennis De La Montanya
Jeff Cohn Cellars – winemaker and owner Jeff Cohn
Meeker Vineyard – family-owned with winemaker Lucas Meeker
Peterson Winery – family-owned with winemaker Jamie Peterson
Porter Creek Vineyards – winemaker, owner and winegrower Alex Davis
Ramazzotti Wines – winemakers, owners and winegrowers Joe and Travis Ramazzotti
Suncé Winery and Vineyard – winemakers, owners and winegrowers Janae and Frane Franicevic
Taddei Wines – winemaker and owner Chris Taddei
F. Teldeschi Winery – winemaker and owner Dan Teldeschi
Please remember these aren’t complete lists. Almost every winery you visit will have someone there who is has the in-depth scoop on the winery. Be sure to take time to ask questions and get to know who is pouring wine for you. I can tell you with complete authority, several of the folks listed above are rather shy and unless you look at their name tag or ask them who they are, it’s unlikely they’ll tell you about themselves or their role at the winery.
On event days, the person pouring wine for you might be the assistant winemaker, cellar master, wine club manager, or the owner’s family member who helps out on weekends and during harvest. As I see the number of small family-owned wineries dwindle, I try to take a moment and appreciate what we have now, and also take the time to talk to the folks with boots on the ground in all aspects of the business.
Terrific Winery Selection
Another reason Winter Wineland is an extra special event is that some participating wineries only do this one event each year. But there is another consideration. We all know that tasting fees are the new norm when you visit a winery (unless you’re a wine club member so your tasting is complimentary.)
Consider how many terrific wineries are participating in Winter Wineland, and for the cost of a $95 weekend ticket or a $75 Sunday only ticket, you can visit as many wineries as you want. There are almost 70 wineries open to ticket holders, so this is quite the deal. If you visit five wineries each day, that means you’re tasting wine at each location for less than $10 a person. It’s been a long time since tasting fees were only $10.
Every ticket holder will also receive a complimentary 6-bottle bag at check-in—perfect to fill as you wend your way through the spectacular wineries pouring your favorites during the weekend. Here’s your chance to visit so many wineries with only one tasting fee. You can stop by those you know and love, and also check out wineries that are new to you.
Have You Experienced….
BACA Wines – specializing in Zinfandels.
CAST Wines – during Winter Wineland, they’ll start you with a glass of bubbly, then you’ll enjoy a sampling of vineyard selections, and concludes with a delicious Zinfandel dessert wine.
Char Vale Vineyards and Winery – tucked away in a lovely bucolic setting in West Sonoma County, your reward for finding them is delicious award-winning Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Rosé and Pinot Noir.
Coyote Sonoma Winery – boasts they have the best deal in Wine Country!
David Coffaro Vineyards & Winery – offering a tailgate weekend with estate grown wines, plus savings up to 40% off.
Dutton-Goldfield Winery – will be pouring their renowned single vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
Ehret Winery – pouring their wines for the weekend with scores from 96 to 98 points – impressive!
Limerick Lane Cellars – amazing Zinfandels and Rhone style wines.
Matrix Winery – so many Pinot Noirs to pick from!
Mazzocco Sonoma – so many Zinfandels to pick from!
Premonition Cellars – they’re pouring Mourvèdre, so if you’re a Rhône fan, you’ll want to include them in your tasting path.
Soda Rock – the location is charming and rustic, the views amazing, and the wines are all Gold Medal winners.
Spicy Vines – full of surprises!
Trattore Farms – the views are worth the walk up the hill, but the wines and estate olive oils will wow you as well.
Truett Hurst Winery – where else can you taste wine and pet goats and sheep, too.
Wilson Winery – Magnum Madness all weekend long.
Be sure to peruse the Winter Wineland program where you’ll discover some wineries are offering food pairings and others will be having wines discounts just for the weekend.
One other point: Spending a weekend along the Wine Road is an opportunity to disconnect from the news, from your daily routine, and enjoy the world of the wineries you visit. Have real conversations with those who folks who make the wine. Feel connected to the product you’re taking home, knowing you met the people who grew the grapes or made the wine. It’s a part of what makes wine tasting along the Wine Road extra special.
Authentic experiences don’t come along every day. Don’t miss this one!
p.s. This event returns to the traditional practice of checking-in at the winery you selected and then deciding where you want to wander and taste. To get the most out of the weekend tasting experience, you might want to review this post on “Making the Most of a Wine Road Event.” Enjoy!
#WINEland2023 #WineRoadLife #AlongtheWineRoad