Many wine lovers know that winter can be a surprisingly good time to visit California wine country. Visitors can take advantage of lower hotel rates of up to 20-30 percent savings, great events/tours and a better chance at meeting winemakers at favorite wineries. They can also still enjoy the California sun in the state’s dozens of wine regions. And visitors who come in January can enjoy great savings and specials at leading eateries throughout the state during California Restaurant Month .
For more information on California’s wine regions, wineries and wines, go to www.discovercaliforniawines.com – the Wine Institute’s official guide to all things California wine. For more information on California Restaurant Month visit www.visitcalifornia.com/Restaurant-Month.
Wine Festivals and Passport Weekends
If you’re short on time, make a California wines road trip in one stop at a winter wine festival. Or take advantage of winter discount passport programs, where you can visit wineries within a short distance of each other—some of which are not ordinarily open to the public.
Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend Feb. 7-8, 2015,
Travel between 40 Lodi Wine Country wineries for a weekend of wine and chocolate delights. Each winery hosts activities including barrel tastings, blending classes, live entertainment and more!
Madera Wine Trail’s February Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Madera County
This Valentine’s Day weekend take your sweetheart on a wine and chocolate journey to the Madera Wine Trail’s Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Feb. 14-15, in Madera County—one of California’s gateways to Yosemite National Park. Sample a wide variety of local wines, paired with gourmet chocolate treats, live music, local art and delicious cuisine.
Calistoga’s 6th Annual Winter in the Wineries Passport, Napa Valley
Now through Feb. 8, take a relaxed tour of this northern Napa Valley town with a Calistoga Winter in Wineries Passport. Taste wine and meet winemakers at 14 wineries and get discounts at local restaurants, hotels and shops.
37th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, Northern Sonoma County
Choose from up to 130 wineries the weekends of March 6-8 and March 13-15 during Northern Sonoma County’s 37th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. Pack a picnic lunch and head over to participating wineries in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, where you can taste and talk to winemakers about current and future samples.
San Francisco East and South Bays
Passport Days, Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries
Throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, guests are welcomed into 50-plus wineries, each offering artisan wines, gourmet food and entertainment on Passport Day. Take a vineyard tour, meet winemakers and sample exclusive vintages Jan. 17, 2015.
Livermore Valley’s 7th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend
Taste wines right out of the barrel, meet winemakers and more March 21-22. Each winery will host a unique experience during barrel tasting weekend including at least one barrel sample for each ticket holder. This is your chance to pre-purchase wines before they have even bottled (aka “futures”)! Thirty-five participating wineries.
South Central Coast
10th Annual Wine Fantasy in February, Santa Barbara County
Fans of Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley will enjoy this lively four-day passport weekend Feb. 13 – 16. Participants can visit 16 tasting rooms to taste reserve, estate and library wines and rub elbows with winemakers and winery owners.
Vintage Paso, San Luis Obispo County
Zinfandel lovers can find out why Wine Enthusiast named Paso Robles its 2013 Wine Region of the Year at Vintage Paso March 20-22. Create your own zinful itinerary to smell, sip and savor the area with events at more than 120 wineries, from wine and chocolate pairings and winemaker dinners to vineyard tours, laid-back barbecues, barrel tastings and more.
World of Wine Barrel Tasting, Temecula Valley
Wineries of the Temecula Valley open their cellar doors March 7-8 for guests to enjoy a bevy of wines at this annual two-day event. Guests can enjoy a self-guided wine country tour that takes them to wineries offering a diverse variety of wines from the barrel, tank and bottle, paired with scrumptious bites.
Behind the Cellar Door, Amador County
Hitting the slopes in South Lake Tahoe this March? Check out the Sierra Foothills wine region of Amador during the Behind the Cellar Door weekend March 7-8. Wine lovers can enjoy distinctive wine and food pairings, a variety of musical talent and educational seminars and demonstrations by local winemakers.