If your New Year Resolutions include more travel, more exploration, and discovering new wines, you can start down that path with Winter WINEland in just a few weeks. This wonderful Sonoma County wine event, from the Wine Road organization, invites you to visit wineries throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys on January 19 and 20. Between 11 am and 4 pm each day, you and your friends can explore new varietals, try limited production wines and perhaps meet the actual winemakers.
This is the 27th Winter WINEland and participants this year include Acorn Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Davis Family Vineyards, Geyser Peak Winery, Hawley Winery, Lancaster Estate, Longboard Vineyards, Martorana Family Winery, Ridge Lytton Springs, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Taft Street Winery, Trentadue Winery, West Wines, White Oak Vineyards and Winery and Zialena Winery.
Advance ticket prices are just $45 per person for both days or $35 for Sunday January 20 only (plus tax and a small service charge). Designated Driver tickets are $5 for either one or both days. To purchase advance tickets 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, or the event may sell out, so purchasing those tickets soon would be a good idea.
The 2019 Winter WINEland 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).
2019 Winter WINEland: Some Wine Suggestions
Have you heard of the Wine & Food Affair? It’s a food and wine pairing event held in November each year, also from the Wine Road. One of our favorite combinations two months ago was a Fig and Brie Tart with the Notre Vue Estate Winery White Wine Blend (Chardonnay, Viognier). In addition, we were quite impressed with the 2017 Balverne Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014 Notre Vue Bordeaux Blend and 2014 Notre Vue Rhône Blend wines. So what we’re saying is you should visit this winery.
Many of the 2019 Winter WINEland wineries also poured their wines during the Wine & Food Affair event, so we’ve listed below our favorite wines from that weekend. We don’t know if these wines will be poured again, but maybe this will help you select which wineries to visit:
- Acorn Winery – 2014 Sangiovese, 2014 Cabernet Franc
- Balletto Vineyards – 2017 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2015 Cider Ridge Pinot Noir
- Dashe Cellars – 2015 Ancient Vines (Mourvèdre, Carignane, Zinfandel), 2016 Les Enfants Terribles (Grenache), 2015 Todd Brothers Ranch Zinfandel, 2015 The Comet (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane)
- G & C Lurton Vineyards – 2014 Acaibo (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc), 2014 Amaino (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot), 2014 Merlot
- La Crema Winery – 2016 Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2014 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2015 Bellflower Pinot Noir
- Sanglier Cellars – 2017 Wild Tusque Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Old Camp Pinot Noir
- Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards – 2016 “The Cutrer” Chardonnay
- Trattore Farms Winery – 2017 mR (Marsanne, Roussanne), 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre)
- Zialena Winery – 2013 Zinfandel
2019 Winter WINEland: 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:
- Francis Ford Coppola Winery will be serving Slow-Roasted Beef Shoulder Risotto
- J. Rickards Winery will have both Herbed Tomato Soup Shooters and Valley Ford Grilled Cheese Sliders
- Mutt Lynch Winery will offer Cubano Sandwiches
In addition, you’ll find soup, small plates, or other nibbles at Acorn Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Carol Shelton Wines, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Longboard Vineyards, Merriam Vineyards, Occidental Road Cellars, Virginia Dare Winery and White Oak Vineyards and Winery.
You can find the complete program of wineries, with available details on wine and food offerings, by going here.
2019 Winter WINEland: Football
To stay up on the NFL Conference Championships that weekend, you’re bound to find TVs at some wineries. Or, you may just plan to check on the Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots, Rams and/or Saints at David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery who will have a whole tailgate theme going on. Then again, you may just want to swing by SIMI Winery to see their gigantic 92″ screen as you taste their wines.
2019 Winter WINEland: “The Rules”
If you decide to attend the 2019 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. Another requirement is that you start at the winery you select when you purchase your ticket(s) in advance.
If you want to share DD duties that weekend, the Wine Road will help you “Share the Responsibility” by allowing a Weekend Attendee and a Designated Driver to swap wristbands (under winery supervision) on Sunday morning. Just make sure to keep those initial wristbands on until you’re at your first winery on Sunday. 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.
The Wine Road is an association of nearly 200 wineries and over 50 lodgings throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County. The group traditionally presents three major events each year: Winter WINEland in January; Barrel Tasting in March; and Wine & Food Affair in November. You can play with interactive maps of the region and learn about local lodging options (and specials) at the Wine Road website. If you move quickly, you may be able to leverage the current lodging specials at Calderwood Inn and the Grape Leaf Inn.