Fall is evident with the crisp morning air, the quality of the evening light, and the foliage changing colors, also indicating it’s time for some harvest fun along the Wine Road.
The last two blogs—Scholarly Sips and California Wine Month Contest—have featured some harvest activities, but more have come my way since then. Here’s your last shot at getting in on some harvest fun, tours, and a bit of education on the winemaking process.
Many of the Wine Road wineries allow you to peek into the cellar or walk out to the crush pad to watch the action. However, many are too small to offer formal tours during this time of year.
Please keep in mind that picking grapes doesn’t follow a set schedule, so to ensure you’ll be seeing “the action,” call ahead to see what is happening on the day you want to visit. The following list is wineries that are offering tours so you can experience harvest crush first hand.
Behind the Scenes: Alexander Valley
Zialena Winery wants to share the action with you, and is offering complimentary harvest tours of their state-of-the-art and one-of-a-kind winemaking facility. Tours are available mid-week during September and October as part of their tasting offerings. Tours are available by appointment only, Monday through Friday, through the end of harvest (which will conclude during October). Call (707-955-5992) or visit their website to book your tasting and tour, as reservations are required.
Behind the Scenes: An Urban Winery
Carol Shelton Wines, one of our Urban Warehouse Wineries, offers tasting room visitors a chance to tour the cellar and get some hands-on experiences as well. Carol, or one of her crew, will guide you through the cellar, let you try punching down the fermenting wine, taste juice straight from the destemmer or press if the equipment is running, and if not, then from a tank, and taste grapes that have just arrived. This is an excellent opportunity to see what goes on in the first days grapes arrive at a winery. This isn’t about making a reservation, rather being at the right place at the right time.
Behind the Scenes: Dry Creek Valley
Saturday, September 16th, West Wines owner and winemaker Katarina will be hosting a vineyard hike and wine tasting starting at 9:45. You’ll be able to pick grape samples, and then field test sugar, pH, and of course, taste the grapes. Katarina will explain how she decides when to harvest, as well as other winemaking topics. The tour will conclude by tasting a flight of West wines. The cost is $30 and each tour will be limited to 10 participants. Reservations are required, and don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes!
On Friday, September 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Trattore Farms is offering a Vine to Wine Harvest Celebration. Owner Tim Bucher will lead a tour through the vineyards and then down into the cellar. You’ll have a chance to learn more about their terroir, and farming and cellar practices. Best of all, you’ll be sipping their wines during the tour! The tour concludes in their tasting room and expansive deck overlooking Dry Creek Valley, where you’ll enjoy wood-fired pizza and more Trattore Farms wines. Tickets, $30 per person for Wine Club members, and $40 for non-members, are very limited. To purchase yours, either email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the winery, 707-431-7200.
Behind the Scenes: Russian River Valley
Hanna Winery is offering winemaking tours four Saturdays this fall—9/16, 9/30, 10/14, and 10/28. Visitors will tour behind the scenes with Hanna’s winemaker Jeff Hinchliffe. Taste grapes and fermenting wine, and immerse yourself in the aromas and excitement of harvest. Then enjoy a picnic lunch paired with Hanna wines on the patio. The cost is $50 per person for Wine Club members, and $70 for non-members. This tour will be held at Hanna’s Russian River Valley location at 5353 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA. To book this harvest tour, email wine@HannaWinery.com, or call 707-431-4310 x124.
Experience crush at Korbel on Saturday, September 23 from 10:30-3 with their Flavors of Fall! This includes a behind the scenes tram ride to tour their vineyards and crush facilities. You’ll also have samples of Korbel’s California Champagnes paired with delicious bites, and be able to take home a logo glass. The cost is $20 per person for Wine Club members, $25 for non-members. Reservations are required, and tickets are online.
Merriam Vineyards does it the old fashioned way…if you’re at the winery and something is happening at the crush pad, you can have a tour. No appointment is needed and there is no charge for the tour. If you are in the area, you can give them a call (707-433-4032) and see if the winery is crushing grapes that day. These impromptu tours take place Monday through Saturday from 10 to 5 during harvest season.
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is offering a harvest tour and tasting. The Exploration Tour & Tasting: Exploring Harvest includes a “back of the house” tour, followed by tasting five highly allocated single vineyard wines paired with artisan cheeses and nuts. If you are interested in any of their tours and tastings, visit the Gary Farrell website for more details or to book your required reservations.
Kokomo Winery has two harvest tours scheduled—Saturday, September 23rd and Saturday, September 30th from 10 – 1. Each tour will start with a brunch paired with Kokomo wines in their picnic area overlooking Dry Creek Valley. Winemaker/owner Erik Miller will lead an educational tour through Timber Crest Vineyards, and finish with a behind-the-scenes look at fermentation and winemaking in the cellar. The cost is $40 per person for Wine Club members, and $50 for non-members. Reservations are required.
Time is Short
Harvest is already in full swing, so if you want to get a first-hand glimpse, now is the time to plan a trip to the Wine Road. With the above list to pick from, you are sure to find a memorable experience from harvest 2017 along the Wine Road.
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