In California’s Napa and Sonoma wine regions, the mornings are crisp and give way to very warm (even HOT) afternoons providing for a prolonged summer perfect for vineyard hikes and relaxing poolside with a chilled chardonnay. Up north in Oregon and Washington fall tends to come on quickly with shorter sunny days where a light sweater might be the best choice for exploring tasting rooms and taking in the fall foliage before sipping a glass of wine by a cozy outdoor firepit in the early evening.
In most regions by mid-October the harvest craziness is wrapping up and the crowds simmer down allowing tasting room staff to provide a much better experience. Hands down, the best tasting experiences I have ever had have been in the late fall months. From undivided attention from the winery host, bonus library wine tasting, and even an impromptu lunch with the winemaking team.
While you might not get a surprise lunch during your visit, there are plenty of special events happening to celebrate the flavors of the season. Harvest and fall release parties are a wonderful way to experience fall in wine country. Wineries are happy to toast the end (or near end) of harvest madness by showcasing new releases with exquisite food pairings, music and more. Some regions put on "passport" events that allow you to purchase one ticket and get access to dozens of participating tasting rooms that can offer complimentary tastings and other specials. Amador Vintners' is hosting their Big Crush annual passport event October 7th - 9th and tickets are going fast!
Take a trip to the Marin coast with Bogle Vineyards and Hog Island Oysters. Partake in Pinot and Paella at Montagne Russe. Oktoberfest with Patterson Cellars in the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA. Kick back at the Fall Open House at Mazzocco Sonoma. These events and more are happening in wine country this fall.
Up in the Pacific Northwest I like to usher in fall with friends and family by hosting a Dungeness crab boil paired with two of myfavorite fall wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. September 30th marks the end of the crab season in the region and the weather is still gorgeous making mid-late September a wonderful time for this fall fete. Need a little inspiration for fall entertaining? Check out the recipe for Vineyard Vixen’s Spicy Roast Crab which pairs beautifully with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Gather with your friends and loved ones and toast to the bounty of the harvest season.
Cheers & happy fall to all,
The Vineyard Vixen