If you want to start your wine tasting year of 2014 off right then you should aim straight for the 2014 Winter WINEland in Sonoma County on January 18-19, 2014. Now in its 22nd year, the event showcases about 140 wineries throughout Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley between 11 am and 4 pm each day. This is your chance to taste limited production wines, embark on winery tours, and sieze opportunities to meet the actual winemakers.
Winter WINEland attendees can enjoy wine tasting at all of the participating wineries for the weekend, although you will need to select which winery you are starting at when you order your tickets online. Advance ticket prices are $45 per person for both days, or $35 for Sunday January 19 only (plus tax and a small service charge). Designated Driver tickets are $5 for either one or both days. Go here to purchase advance tickets before January 13 and/or to see the complete list of participating wineries.
If you miss the advance purchase window, tickets will be also be available onsite at participating wineries during the event weekend for $60 for both days, or $45 for Sunday only. Designated Driver tickets will be $10.
The 2014 Winter WINEland is is a wonderful event in that you have about 140 wineries to choose from. The problem is, now you have to choose between 140 wineries. So, we’re here to try and help:
2014 Winter WINEland and Wine Varietals
If you know you prefer certain wine varietals, these are the wineries we recommend you aim for based on the varietal(s) we think they are particularly skilled at making wine from:
- Barbera – Portalupi Wine Company, Preston of Dry Creek
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Geyser Peak Winery, Longboard Vineyards, Robert Young Estate Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Simi Winery, Stonestreet Winery, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, West Wines
- Chardonnay – Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Taft Street Winery
- Grenache – Trattore Estate Wines
- Merlot – Hawley Winery, Martorana Family Winery
- Petite Sirah – Mounts Family Winery
- Pinot Noir – Cartograph, Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Inman Family Wines, Lattanzio Wines (at Vinoteca), Lost Canyon Winery, Mueller Winery, Siduri Wines
- Primitivo – Kokomo Winery
- Sangiovese – ACORN Winery
- Sauvignon Blanc – Fritz Underground Winery, Frostwatch Vineyard & Winery (at Vinoteca)
- Syrah – Longboard Vineyards
- Viognier – Hawley Winery
- Zinfandel – Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, Dashe Cellars, Gustafson Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Wilson Winery
2014 Winter WINEland and Food
Many wineries will feature food samples paired with their wines at the Winter WINEland weekend. There will be Soups (including Minestrone Soup at Kokomo Winery), Pizzas (including Forno-Baked Pizza at Preston of Dry Creek), and Macaroni and Cheese (including the annual Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Competition at Thumbprint Cellars). Fans of Hog Island Oysters should make sure to visit Trione Vineyards & Winery on Saturday.
For heartier fare, options over the weekend will include Paella at Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, Red Chile Pork at Robert Rue Vineyard, Pork Sliders at Stephen & Walker Winery, and Grilled Beef Sandwiches at Everett Ridge Vineyards and Winery. And, while the Winter WINEland porgram doesn’t list the actual menu items, you will almost certainly enjoy whatever is being served by both Baci Cafe & Wine Bar at Gustafson Family Vineyards and Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar at ACORN Winery.
2014 Winter WINEland and Football
If you want to check on the NFC and AFC Championship Games on Sunday, you are certain to find several of the wineries with TVs on. Or, you may just want to know that Davis Family Vineyards has a 52″ screen and Simi Winery has a 92″ screen for viewing on the 19th.
At Winter WINEland, participants can also “Share the Responsibility.” In an effort to promote responsible hospitality, event sponsors will allow you and a companion to switch between a Weekend and Designated Driver ticket after the first day. To do this, just ask that your wristbands be cut off at your first winery stop on Sunday and new ones assigned for that day.
If you do attend the 2014 Winter WINEland (and we highly recommend you do), please realize that no one under the age of 21 is allowed (including children and babies), no dogs are allowed, and many of the wineries (about half of them) specifically request no limousines or groups of 8 or more. Once again, to find complete details on the weekend, including all of the participating wineries and their planned activities for the weekend, please go here.
Wine Road, an association of wineries and lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys, presents three events each year: Winter WINEland in January; Barrel Tasting in March; and A Wine & Food Affair in November. You can read more about the events, play with interactive maps of the region, and/or learn about local lodging options here to help you better plan your next trip to the region.