Wine Events at the Heart of Russian River Winters

Before we were blessed with children, we identified as wineauxs. Our domestic and international travel generally revolved around tasting wine in some exciting new wine region. Then kids. Over the years we have developed a few strategies keep the children entertained while we wine taste and we have found some great kid-friendly wineries. But alas, the kids just tolerate our wine tasting adventures and we are generally limited to one or two tasting rooms depending on the kids mood. So one of our favorite things to do is pack the kids off to the grandparents and spend the weekend wine tasting at Winter Wineland!

The Wine Road Podcast yesterday reminded me that Winter Wineland is coming in only one week and inspired me to get a post up highlighting all the great fall and winter wine events in the Russian River area. Most of these wine events are adults only but at the end of the post I highlight a few great kid-friendly holiday wine events that we discovered this year.

This is part 3 of our 4 part “Off-Season Russian River” series.

Winter Wineland

Early January: Winter Wineland is the premiere winter wine event in the Russian River Valley for the last 28 years. Enjoy wine tasting and some small bites of freshly prepared gourmet foods which complement the wines. Meet the winemakers as they highlight a Vintage, Varietal or Vertical tasting. If you want to explore the offerings of the Russian River then Olivet Road would seem like an obvious destination for the density of wineries; but it will be crazy just like in summer. We prefer to use this event as a way of exploring the wineries that are usually appointment only or small distribution because you will be much more likely to find a family wine maker at these venues to chat up.

Taste Route 116

Mid February: The central portion of the Russian River Valley around Olivet often gets the attention for the whole AVA however Route 116 provides access to a number of excellent wineries with the added variety of cider and other interesting destinations. Taste Route 116 is a newer organization that sponsors a mid-February event along this unique corridor. Last year it was a Valentine’s Day theme and this year it is wine and food pairing event similar to a Wine & Food Affair.

Wine Road Barrel Tasting Weekend

Early March: 2020 will be the 43rd year for Barrel Tasting Weekend on the Sonoma Wine Road. This event is a wine-focused event where wineauxs get some special time with the vinters to talk all-things wine. Don’t expect wine and food pairings because at this event the highlight is tasting upcoming vintages straight from the barrel. Many winemakers offer “futures” on the wine so you can be the first to get your hands on it when it finally hits the bottle and is ready for distribution.

Wine & Food Affair

Early November: Though technically a fall event, the Wine & Food Affair comes after the crush and enjoys the same mellow off-season vibe that makes the other winter events so wonderful but often the weather is still nice and sunny. Unfortunately it was cancelled due the fires this year, but plan on visiting next year for a great event focused on the art of pairing wine to food. Each winery highlights a specific recipe paired with a specific wine. To be perfectly honest we plan our itinerary around the food because we know the wine will be excellent wherever we end up. Also look for add-on farm to table dinners at the wineries.

Holiday Wine Events

Throughout December: There are variety of smaller wine events in December that are more family-focused (no kids at the Wine Road events) and often include a visit from Santa. Our two favorites are Croquet with Santa at Sonoma-Cutrer and the Holiday Shopping Spree at Korbel.

At the Sonoma-Cutrer Holiday Open House enjoy delectable bites, special deals on wine, and Christmas Carolers. But the real attraction here is playing croquet with Santa! Who wants to sit on Santa’s lap when you could be his new BFF. Maybe think twice about kicking his butt at croquet lest you get a lump of coal as your prize!

At Korbel’s Shopping Spree, get some holiday discounts on wine so you can stock up for the holidays and enjoy the festivities while you are at it! There are singing carolers, cider and cookies, and a visit from Santa who hands out actual wrapped presents for the kiddos. We like to pick up brandy here for the eggnog during the the Christmas festivities.

This local insight brought to you by your hosts at Lucky Bend Lookout; a modern yet family-friendly Russian River vacation home. Check our availability and book online or call/text Sarah at 415-516-6961 to reserve.