7 Unique Harvest Activities This Fall in Wine Country

Harvest season is a time like no other in wine country, where an undercurrent of excitement and urgency flows from August through October in Sonoma County. The grapes on the vine finally reach the promised land of maturity. And as you drive through the county early in the morning, you get a sense of joy as a truck zooms by with bins of freshly picked fruit.

With the harvest comes a host of festive events: vineyard dinners, harvest lunches, festivals and fairs – all interesting ways to commemorate the season. But there are also activities designed to bring you closer to the action, whether in the vineyard, on the treadmill or by the grape sorting table.

Here are some of the unique harvest season activities happening in Wine Country.

September 17

Harvest Camp at Trombetta Family Wines: Erica Stancliff, winemaker from Trombetta, will be leading a one-day harvest camp at the Forestville winery. The day will begin with homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee, followed by a harvest demonstration in the estate’s vineyard. Visitors can harvest fruit for the 2022 rosé from the winery, then enjoy a gourmet barbecue in the courtyard, including the 2021 rosé from last year’s camp.

Tickets are $100 per person ($75 for wine club members). To register, visit trombettawines.com or call 707-887-7814. Trombetta Family Wines, 129 Nolan Court, Forestville.

September 18

Winegrower harvest walk and tasting at West Wines: Join West Wines winemaker Katarina Bonde for a walk through the winery’s Dry Creek vineyard. Visitors will be able to pick grape samples and test the Brix (sugar content), pH levels and flavor of the berries, while Bonde shares insight into harvesting and winemaking. The event includes a guided wine flight on the patio of the vineyard. Packed lunches and cold meats are available to order before the event. Be sure to wear comfortable closed-toed shoes.

The price is $50 per person, with food sold separately. To register, visit westwines.com or call 707-433-2066. Western Wines, 1000 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg.

September 20-21

Instagram Approved Package at St. Francis Winery: St. Francis Winery is inviting winery visitors to “do it for the gram” this September with their Instagram-approved package. Designed for those looking to kick their Instagram game up a notch, the package includes a 30-minute hair and makeup session, a 30-minute photo shoot with a professional photographer, and a wine-paired lunch at Vineyard Portico. All photos are taken on your personal smartphone for easy sharing access and “bragging rights,” according to the winery’s website.

The Instagram-approved package is $100 per person, with a $50 discount for groups of four. To register, visit stfranciswinery.com/experiences/#gram. St. Francis Winery, 100 Pythian Road at Highway 12, Santa Rosa; 707-833-0240.

Sept. 24 and Oct. 8

Harvest tours at Hanna Winery: Join Hanna winemaker Jeff Hinchcliffe for a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s harvest. The morning will begin with a walk through Hanna’s pinot noir vineyard, followed by a tour of the crushing belt in action as the trucks of grapes arrive. Watch the winemaking team sort the grapes before they are pressed and separated into skins and juice. Then taste the Sauvignon Blanc fermented in vats and barrels to learn more about aging in oak barrels. The visit will end with a picnic and wine tasting.

Prices are $100 per person or $80 for wine club members. To purchase tickets, visit hannawinery.com/Experiences/Winery-Events. Hanna Winery, 5353 West Road, Santa Rosa.

October 15

Crash course on crushes at The CIA in Copia: Drinks expert Traci Dutton will lead a crash course in crushes at the CIA in Copia. Participants will gain an insider’s perspective on viticulture and winemaking, with an emphasis on harvesting. A guided tasting of wines made with different techniques will be included to help visitors take a step back.

You must be at least 21 years old to participate. The price is $65 per person. To register, call 800-888-7850 or email ciacustomerservice@culinary.edu. The CIA at Copia, 500 First St., Napa; ciaatcopia.com

October 15

Grape Stomp World Championship at the Sonoma County Crop Fair: Grape treading may have originated in ancient Rome, but Sonoma County can claim the world’s grape treading championship like ours. Part of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, this annual Santa Rosa Grape Stride invites people of all ages to partake in the winemaking tradition of crushing grapes on foot. The “Stompers” crush the grapes while the “swabbies” direct the juice into the glass jugs. During the final round, 60 pounds of grapes will be crushed for five minutes. The team that fills the jugs with the most juice will win $1,500. Costumes are encouraged and the best dressed team will receive a special prize.

Registration fees are $40 per team. To register, go to harvestfair.org/grape-stomp or email specialevents@sonomacountyfair.com. Spectators can access the event with a Harvest Fair admission ticket.

October 15

Create your own zin blend with Wine Road: Become a winemaker for a day during this hands-on Zinfandel blending seminar with Michael Talty of Talty Vineyards & Winery, Brandon Lapidas of Arminda Winery, and Rick Hutchinson of Amphora Winery. Find out what winemakers look for when creating a blend and how they balance their wines. You can then create your own blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan and see how your blend compares to those of your neighboring blenders.

Tickets are $50 per person or $25 for Wine Road Insiders. To register, go to wineroad.com. Talty Vineyards & Winery, 7127 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg.

You can reach editor Sarah Doyle at 707-521-5478 or sarah.doyle@pressdemocrat.com.

Sally J. Minick