Bike rides with views of fiery fall foliage, grape stomping competitions, an accordion festival, and learning about winemaking are all reasons to visit California's Sonoma County this September. The county is home to some of the oldest wineries in California and they produce world-famous wines. Autumn is a special time because it's when vineyards harvest grapes and crush them to begin making wine.
8 West Wines: Harvest Hikes With The Winemaker
Guests of West Wines walk through its upper vineyard with the owner and winemaker Katarina Bonde. They'll get to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon and learn how to test samples for pH and Brix (sugar levels). After finishing the hike, visitors enjoy a guided tasting.
- Dates: September 5th, 11th, and 18th
- Time: 9:45 am - 11:30 am
- Price: $35 per person
- Reservations: Via the West Wines website
7 Harvest Lunches At Jordan Winery
Twenty years ago, Jordan Winery planted a tiny tomato patch. What started as a small project grew into a garden with more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Nearby, the winery also keeps chickens, goats, cows, and bees. The establishment produces olive oil as well as estate wines. All of this means that when guests sit down to partake in a harvest lunch, they are eating dishes made with the freshest, most exquisite ingredients.
- Dates: Thursdays to Mondays, September 2nd through September 30th
- Time: 12 pm - 2 pm
- Price: $110
- Reservations: Via the Jordan Vineyard and Winery website
6 Harvest Season Crushpad Tours at Dutton Estate
Fall is a busy time for vineyards. Workers labor from dawn to dusk cutting grape clusters. Next comes the crushing. This is when winemakers mash the fruit--long ago this was done by stomping on them, but now wineries like Dutton Estate have special machinery. Wine enthusiasts can tour the crush pad at Dutton to see harvest activity in real life. Anyone who reserves a tasting experience on Wednesday at 12 am or 12:30 am, or Saturday at 11 am or 11:30 am can arrive early to see how workers crush grapes to prepare them for the fermenting process. Dutton's wine tasting experiences include Cheese & Charcuterie Pairings ($45), Chocolate & Red Wine Pairing ($35), Garden Wine Tasting ($25), or Grape to Glass ($70).
- Dates: Wednesdays and Saturdays from September 11th to
- Time: Saturdays from 10:30 am to 11 am and Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 12 pm
- Price: Complimentary with tasting experiences
- Reservations: Via the Dutton Estate website
5 Sonoma County Art Trails
Over the course of two weekends, 121 Sonoma County artists open their studios to the public. The selection process is rigorous and a jury of 5 chooses the contributing artists. Visitors on the Art Trail will find the studios by following blue signs. The organizers recommend starting by viewing the preview exhibition at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Each of the participating artists contributed a piece to the show and guests can get additional information and maps before meeting the artists.
- Dates: September 18th - 19th and 25th - 26th
- Time: 10 am - 5 pm
- Price: Free
4 Emeritus Harvest Trail
Visitors take a self-guided tour, following the same journey as grapes on this trail. First, they witness the harvest teams as they cut clusters from the vine. Then, guests visit the crush pad. The vineyard sets up stations along the way so that visitors can enjoy light bites and Emeritus wines. At different points, trail followers get to meet the vineyard, winemaking, and tasting room teams.
- Date: October 25th
- Times: 11:30 am or 1:30 pm
- Price: $50
- Reservations: Via Eventbrite
3 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair attracts people from around the world for its Grand Tasting, World Championship Grape Stomp, and winemaking and brewing contests. This year, the organizers have postponed the Grand Tasting until 2022. The annual event allows ticket holders to taste wines from more than 100 Sonoma County wineries over two days. The Grand Tasting is a bucket-list event for wine lovers, so plan to visit in autumn of 2022.
- Dates: Grand Tasting postponed until 2022
2 Asti Tour De Vine
Cyclists ride on uncrowded roads through the gorgeous Alexander Valley. They'll have privileged views of fall vineyard foliage and the Russian River. There's a ride for everyone--beginners can choose the 25 km ride while more advanced cyclists may pick 50 km or 100 km paths. Some even opt for the 100-mile Rockpile Rumble. There are stations with water and healthy snacks along the way. The rides take participants to the Historic Mt. Carmel Church where they enjoy lunch and wine.
- Date: October 9th
- Time: 8 am - 11 am
- Price: $85 per adult, $40 per student, $35 per additional lunch ticket for family and friends
Registration: Via Active
1 Cotati Accordion Festival
There aren't many places where people can attend accordion festivals, but Sonoma is one of them. This year is the 30th annual Cotati Accordion Festival. More than 40 bands and accordion players will perform on seven stages.
- Dates: September 25th - 26th
- Time: 9:30 am until the evening
- Price: $21 for one day and $29 for two days (buy ahead of time online for a discount)
- Reservation: Via the Cotati Accordion Festival website