Exploring Sonoma County in January: The 2013 Winter WINEland

Alexander Valley

Alexander Valley, part of the Wine Road territory

Looking for an excuse to explore the wineries in Northern Sonoma County?  You’ll have about 140 of them ready for you at the 21st Annual Winter WINEland on January 19-20, 2013, running between 11 am and 4 pm each day.  This is your chance to taste limited production wines, new releases, or library wines throughout Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley.  Enjoy food pairings, winery tours, and opportunities to meet the actual winemakers.

Winter WINEland tickets provide for wine tasting at all of the participating wineries for the weekend.  When you order your tickets online, you will need to select which winery you are starting at (although only Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves seems to be sold out right now).  Advance ticket prices run $45 per person for both days, or $35 for Sunday January 20 only.  Designated Driver tickets are $5 for either one or both days.  Go here to purchase advance tickets before January 14 and/or to see the complete list of participants.

If you miss the advance purchase window, tickets will be also be available onsite at participating wineries during the event weekend for $55 for both days, or $45 for Sunday only.  Designated Driver tickets will remain at $5.

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.


Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards

Are there some kinds of wines you like more than others?  At the 21st Annual Winter WINEland, each winery selects a Featured Varietal to focus on (although you will probably be offered other wines as well).  If you have some personal favorites in varietals, these are the wineries we would recommend you make sure to visit that weekend:

Sparkling Wines – Korbel

Chardonnay – La Crema Winery, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Taft Street Winery

Sauvignon Blanc – Trione Vineyards & Winery

Pinot Noir – Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, Inman Family Wines, Joseph Phelps Freestone Winery, Siduri, Woodenhead

Sangiovese – Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery

Merlot – Martorana Family Winery

Barbera – Portalupi Wine Company, Preston of Dry Creek

Cabernet Sauvignon – Paradise Ridge, Robert Young Estate Winery, Stonestreet Winery, West Wines

Zinfandel – Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, Dashe Cellars, Ridge Vineyards, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Wilson Winery

Petite Sirah – Hawley Winery, Mounts Family Winery

Syrah – Longboard Vineyards

You can find the complete list of participating wineries, and their Featured Varietals here.


Trione Vineyards

Trione Vineyards

Or, if you’d rather plan your Winter WINEland weekend based on food preferences, here are some options to pay attention to.  Fans of Hog Island Oysters should head over to Trione Vineyards & Winery.  If you want some soup (since it is the middle of January after all) your choices include New England Clam Chowder at Sunce Winery & Vineyard, Minestrone Soup at HKG Estate Wines/Hop Kiln Winery, and Black Bean Soup at Trattore Estate Wines.  Cheese fans may want to head to Dry Creek Vineyard for Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Preston of Dry Creek for Brick Oven Pizza, or Thumbprint Cellars for their annual Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Competition.

When you’re ready for heartier fare, you can find Red Wine Braised Beef with Winter Root Vegetables and Potatoes at Chateau Diana, Smoked Herb Crusted Italian Pork Loin at Portalupi, Prime New York Steak with Lobster Remoulade at Russian River Vineyards, Zinfandel Braised Beef Bourgogne at Manzanita Creek Winery, Mediterranean Marinated Grilled Lamb Skewers at Starlite Vineyards, and Wild Mushroom Soup and Grilled Flank Steak at Hudson Street Wineries.  If you do attend the 2013 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 75 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 logoFounded 35 years ago, the Wine Road is an association of wineries and lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys of northern Sonoma County.  Now consisting of nearly 200 wineries and 50 lodgings, it is not actually a “road” in the sense of a stretch of paved highway, but more of a treasure map to the many jewels found in the hills and valleys of the region.  The Wine Road offers three major events each year: Winter WINEland (in January), Barrel Tasting (in March), and A Wine & Food Affair (in November).


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