01.17.2012
By Terry Flanagan

California (Wine Country) Dreamin’

Foodies and wine lovers, beware: January is California Restaurant Month, and with events being held throughout the state’s wide variety of regions, traveling now to the Golden State is sure to be more worthwhile than ever. From the Sierra foothills down to San Diego, feasts await, as do off-season hotel rates, plane fares, and relatively less congested tourism.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

The Mendocino County Whale Festivals, with wine and chowder tastings in Mendocino and Little River in March as well as wildlife art exhibits, lighthouse and sea cave kayak tours and more.

Winter Wineland, being held from January 14-15, gives art and wine lovers the chance to speak with artists, view art, and learn about vineyard practices at over 140 participating wineries.

The ZAP Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco, running from January 26-28, is billed as the premier single-varietal tasting in the world with more than 200 featured wineries.

The Bring Out the Barrel event in January 28-29 lets visitors explore up to 27 wineries, each offering a rare chance to preview wines in the barrel before they’re blended or bottled.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

The moderate climate of this area ensures a relaxing trip to the countryside, most notably San Luis Obispo’s wine country.

Pinot Paradise offers the rare chance to sample virtually all of the renowned Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noirs in one location, including a VIP tasting with one-on-one winemaker meetings and technical seminars. This festival runs from March 31 to April 1.

Paso Robles’ Zinfandel Festival, running from March 16 to March 18, includes a grand tasting, auction, food pairings, and meet-the-winemaker experiences.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week, running from January 22 to January 28, features restaurants in the region offering 3-course tasting menus plus paired wines starting at around $20.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Ventura County Wine Trail’s Local Food & Wine Challenge on January 19 matches up 12 teams of local wineries and restaurants to see who can created the best pairing. With over 24 pairings and live music, this evening festival promises to make for a memorable dinner.

The Chocolate Decadence & Pechanga Wine Festival is being held from March 2 to March 3 and showcases a variety of desserts, pastries, and chocolates with local sparkling and dessert wines.

Orange County Food & Wine’s “Passport to Wine” features over 40 wineries over the afternoon of April 21. Paired with locally sourced foods, this feast is well worth the $75 entrance fee.

To find more wine events throughout California, please visit California Wines.

 

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