Kick off your 2015 with a wonderful wine event in Sonoma County, the 2015 Winter WINEland. On January 17-18, the weekend offers about 140 wineries throughout Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley welcoming you with wine tasting, wine specials, and tasty bites. Running between 11 am and 4 pm each day, this is a chance to taste limited production wines, embark on winery tours, and seize 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 from when you order your tickets online. Advance ticket prices are $45 per person for both days, or $35 for Sunday January 18 only (plus tax and a small service charge). Designated Driver tickets are $5 for either one or both days. To purchase advance tickets before January 12 and/or to see the complete list of participating wineries, please go here.
When you order online, your Confirmation Email serves as your “ticket” and it confirms your starting winery. After checking in there, you are welcome to visit any and all of the wineries that are participating in the event throughout the weekend. If you miss the advance purchase window, you can still purchase tickets at participating wineries during the weekend but prices increase to $60 for both days, or $45 for Sunday only. Designated Driver tickets will be $10 (for either one or both days) at that point.
The good news is that the 2015 Winter WINEland provides you about 140 Sonoma County wineries to choose from, and each one will have something on sale. The bad news is now you have to choose which ones to visit. Keep reading, and we’ll try to help with that:
2015 Winter WINEland: Suggestions Based on Wine Varietals
If 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, Martin Ray Winery, Martorana Family Winery, Ridge Vineyards, Robert Young Estate Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Simi Winery, Stonestreet Winery, Stuhlmuller Vineyards, West Wines
- Chardonnay – Balletto Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Fog Crest Vineyard, Joseph Phelps Vineyards (Freestone), Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Stuhlmuller Vineyards
- Gewürztraminer – Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Russian River Vineyards
- Grenache – Trattore Estate Wines
- Merlot – Hawley Winery, Martorana Family Winery
- Petite Sirah – Mounts Family Winery
- Pinot Noir – Balletto Vineyards, Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Fog Crest Vineyard, Joseph Phelps Vineyards (Freestone), Lattanzio Wines, Lost Canyon Winery, Siduri Wines
- Sangiovese – ACORN Winery
- Sauvignon Blanc – Fritz Underground Winery, Taft Street Winery, White Oak Vineyards & Winery
- Syrah – Longboard Vineyards
- Viognier – Hawley Winery
- Zinfandel – ACORN Winery, Dashe Cellars, Gustafson Family Vineyards, Hawley Winery, Kokomo Winery, Ridge Vineyards, Valdez Family Winery, Wilson Winery
2015 Winter WINEland: Planning Around Food Offerings
Many wineries will feature food samples paired with their wines during the Winter WINEland weekend, but we actually know what some of them will be serving if you’re having a particular craving. If you are cold and soup would hit the spot, consider driving over for Lobster Bisque (from Costeaux French Bakery) at Sunce Winery, Potato Leek Soup at Toad Hollow Vineyards, and/or Posole at Kokomo Winery while you taste their wines.
If those don’t work for you, Winter WINEland attendees can also enjoy Mama Tina’s Ravioli at Blanchard Family Wines, Beef Bourguignon at Manzanita Creek Winery, Mushroom Farro Risotto at Silver Oak Cellars, and/or Portabello Mushroom and Blue Cheese Ragu over Polenta (from Rosso) at ACORN Winery.
If you’re more into comfort food, you can find Chili and Cornbread at Pezzi King Vineyards, Pulled Pork Sliders at Stephen & Walker, Braised Pork Sliders at Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Meat Pies at Dutton-Goldfield Winery, and/or Forno-Baked Pizza at Preston of Dry Creek. Or, you may want to stop and graze at the annual Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Competition at Thumbprint Cellars.
Then, if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, you may want to consider tasting wines at Williamson Wines (serving up Red Velvet Cookies) or Bluenose Wines (where they will be offering roast-your-own S’mores). The Winter Wineland program which lists all of the wineries and their individual event details can be found by going here.
2015 Winter WINEland: Football
If you need to check on the NFC and AFC Championship Games on Sunday, you are bound to find TVs at some wineries. Or, you may plan your day knowing that Clos du Bois has 2 large flat-screen TVs, Davis Family Vineyards has a 52″ screen and Simi Winery has a 92″ screen for viewing on the 18th.
2015 Winter WINEland: Designated Drivers
Designated Drivers will not be served any wine, and are not allowed to taste out of others’ glasses, but they will be provided other beverages to drink. However, 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 change roles between a Wine Taster and Designated Driver after the first day if you purchase a two-day ticket and a DD ticket. To do this, just ask that your wristbands from Saturday be cut off after you arrive at your first winery stop on Sunday and new ones can be assigned for each of you on that second day.
2015 Winter WINEland: “The Rules”
If you decide to attend the 2015 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 about half of the wineries specifically request no limousines or groups of 8 or more. In fact, full-size buses (24 passengers or more) are not allowed at Wine Road events at all, and will be turned away. In addition, you are required to start at the winery you said you would start at if you purchased your ticket in advance. To find complete details on the weekend, including a list of the participating wineries and which ones have requested smaller groups only, please go here.
2015 Winter WINEland: Lodging
If you need a place to spend the night, you can find a list of over 50 local lodging options at the Wine Road’s website here. Some of the places are even offering specials that weekend, including:
- Auberge on the Vineyard (Cloverdale) – Save 10% for one night, 20% for 2 nights, 30% for 3 nights, etc., if you book online and enter promo codes 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. Your stay includes a three course French inspired breakfast. 707-894-5956
- Rio Nido Lodge (Guerneville) – If you use the online promotional code “WR10” to book your room, there is a 10% discount (but a Saturday stay requires at least two nights’ stay). 707-604-7641
- Fern Grove Cottages (Guerneville) – Reserve a cottage for at least two nights and receive complimentary champagne and a wine country gift when you check in. 707-869-8105
- Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport (Santa Rosa) – A full hot breakfast is included with your stay, and if you bring your wine purchases back to the hotel they can help coordinate shipping for you, and have the charges added to your hotel bill or you can pay separately. Call the hotel directly to book your stay and request the Winter Wineland Package. 707-545-0444
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.