Are you stuck inside, yearning to be outside (and better yet, drinking wine at the same time)? If so, maybe you should spend this weekend planning next weekend. A wonderful Sonoma County wine event, Winter WINEland, welcomes you to over 100 wineries throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys on January 14 and 15 between 11 am and 4 pm each day. You and your friends can try limited production wines, embark on winery tours, and perhaps meet the actual winemakers.
This year is Winter WINEland’s 25th Anniversary, and participating wineries include Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Fritz Underground Winery, Hawley Winery, Kokomo Winery, La Crema Winery, Martorana Family Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, West Wines and Zichichi Family Vineyard.
Winter WINEland attendees can enjoy wine tasting at all of the participating wineries that weekend, and advance ticket prices are just $45 per person for both days or $35 for Sunday January 15 only (plus tax and a small service charge). Designated Driver tickets are $5 for either one or both days. To purchase advance tickets (before the end of Monday) and/or to see the complete list of participating wineries, please go here. If you miss the advance purchase window, prices during the weekend itself will increase to $60 for both days, or $45 for Sunday only (and Designated Driver tickets will be $10).
The 2017 Winter WINEland, sponsored by the Wine Road, offers over 100 premium Sonoma County wineries to choose from and each of the participating wineries will highlight a particular vintage, varietal, or vertical tasting during the event. The bad news is now you have to choose which ones to visit (but if you keep reading we’ll try to help with that).
2017 Winter WINEland: Wine Suggestions From the Wine & Food Affair
Have you heard of A Wine & Food Affair? It’s an event focused on food and wine pairing held in November each year, and our favorite combinations at the last event were the Chalk Hill Estate 2014 Estate Chardonnay paired with Crushed Avocado and Grapefruit Bruschetta (from winery chef Annie Hongkham) and the Acorn Winery 2013 Sangiovese paired with Roasted Fall Vegetable Rotini with Gorgonzola and Parmesan Cream Sauce (from Chef Rick Bruno of Bruno’s on Fourth).
Many of the 2017 Winter WINEland wineries also participated in the November 2016 Wine & Food Affair event, so we’ve listed below our favorite wines from that weekend (in case it helps you select which wineries to visit):
Acorn Winery – 2011 Dolcetto, 2013 Sangiovese, 2012 Medley (vineyard blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and many more varietals)
Balletto Vineyards – 2013 Sexton Hills Chardonnay, 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2013 Burnside Road Vineyard Pinot Noir
Chalk Hill Estate – 2014 Estate Chardonnay
Colagrossi Wines – 2014 L’inizio (Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier), 2014 Vino Rosso (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)
La Crema Winery – 2013 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
Lancaster Estate – 2015 Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Longboard Vineyards – 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Point Break (Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)
Portalupi Wine Co. – 2013 Charbono, 2014 Dolcetto
Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs – 2013 Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel, 2014 Ponzo Zinfandel
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards – 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Stuhlmuller Vineyards – 2014 Estate Chardonnay, 2014 Summit Chardonnay, 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Taft Street Winery – 2015 Chardonnay “Garagistes”
2017 Winter WINEland: Planning Around Food Offerings
Not every winery will have food at Winter WINEland, but we know of some that will. So, you may want to plan an itinerary knowing that:
- West Wines will have gourmet Cheese and Charcuterie available
- The wineries at the Family Wines Cooperative (in Dry Creek Valley) are serving up Seafood Cioppino (this includes Dashe Cellars, Philip Staley Vineyards, and others)
- Deux Amis Winery is offering Pulled Pork Sliders with Pineapple Salsa
- Sunce Winery & Vineyard will also offer their visitors Paella
- Wood Fired Pizzas will be coming out of the ovens at Medlock Ames
- Merriam Vineyardsis baking Cabernet Franc Brownies
- And, the wineries at Hudson Street Wineries (in Healdsburg) will have a fire pit to make your own S’mores (this includes Bluenose Wines, Kelley & Young Wines, and others)
You can find the complete program of wineries, with available details on wine and food offerings, by going here.
2017 Winter WINEland: Football
If you need to check on the NFL Divisional Playoffs that weekend, you are bound to find TVs at some wineries. Or, you may just want to plan your days knowing that David Coffaro Estate Vineyard will have a whole tailgate theme going on as they show the games, and Simi Winery has a giantic 92″ screen.
2017 Winter WINEland: “The Rules”
If you decide to attend the 2017 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, buses of all sizes are not allowed at all and will be turned away. In addition, you are required to start at the winery you selected if you purchased your ticket(s) 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.
Wine Road, an association of 200 wineries and 50 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.