A Guide to Annual Events & Festivals in Sonoma County

  • Events
  • by WC STAFF
  • on JANUARY 6, 2016
  • 2037
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January 16 – 17, 2016

Winter Wineland – Sonoma, CA 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. $45 for all weekend, $35 for Sunday only, $5 for designated drivers. More than 130 wineries are slated to participate in the 2016 Winter Wineland in Sonoma. Local favorites include Alexander Valley Vineyard, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Paradise Ridge Winery, and Francis Ford Coppola Winery, to name a few, and each brings the varieties of which they are the most proud. Taste limited releases of California wines alongside delectable food pairings while touring Sonoma Wine Country, and relish in sampling some of the finest wines the region has to offer.

January – February, 2016

Olive Festival – Variety of locations in Sonoma County Prices vary for each event, some are free. For over 100 years, Sonoma County has been one of the top olive-growing areas in the country. Honor the olive during the 15th annual Olive Festival held at Sonoma Valley Inn, Flamingo Resort, Wine Country Cyclery, and many other locations throughout Sonoma County. These olive-centric locales host events that focus on olive agriculture, recipes, and how olives become olive oil.

March 18 – 19, 2016

Pigs & Pinot at Hotel Healdsburg – Healdsburg, CA Prices TBA. The quiet town of Healdsburg has gained a reputation as a foodie haven, and the Pigs & Pinot festival is a bright beacon on the annual calendar. Competing Pinots are judged alongside cuts of pork, and at the end, a winner is chosen–but when it comes to blending this gentle variety and the subtlety of good roasted pig, there really are no losers. All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit that helps feed local children in need.

March 2016

Savor Sonoma Valley – Kenwood and Glen Ellen, CA $65 weekend pass, $20 designated driver pass, $50 Sunday only pass, $10 Sunday only designated driver pass. Along with newly released wines straight from the barrel, Savor Sonoma Valley features food prepared by local chefs like Clayton Lewis from Mayo Family Winery, and Chef Catherine Venturini of Olive and Vine. Local fine art will be on display as live music wafts through the venues at a festival where Sonoma’s best wines take the spotlight.

March 30 – April 3, 2016

Sonoma Film Festival – Theaters throughout Sonoma Valley $175 per person. More than 100 films from around the world are screened at the Sonoma Film Festival, including documentaries and independent films. But, this is Sonoma Valley, and it would hardly be a communal gathering were it not for the food: local chefs cook up samples of their finest cuisine, pairing them with wines sourced from Sonoma Valley vineyards. Pull out the autograph book: some of the brightest stars in Hollywood have attended this event over the years, like Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, and Danny Glover.

April 23 – 24, 2016

Passport to Dry Creek Valley – Various wineries in Dry Creek Valley Prices TBA. During one weekend every year in April, visitors can sample wines from 45 participating Dry Creek Valley wineries, along with food prepared by local chefs. A behind-the-scenes tour should top the agenda, so arrange a little extra time with favorites that include Forchini Vineyards and Winery, Seghesio Family Vineyards, and Quivira Vineyards and Winery, to see how the winemakers turn grapes into internationally renowned wines year after year.

June 3 – 12, 2016

Healdsburg Jazz Festival – Healdsburg, CA Tickets start at $65 per person. A medley of jazz styles from dozens of talented musicians is on tap at the annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival. This celebration of the art and history of jazz music occurs at locations throughout town, including the glamorous Hotel Healdsburg and the historic Raven Theater. Although the 2016 performance schedule has not yet been released, the 2015 lineup included the Ed Reed Quartet and Latin jazz septet Eddie Palmieri.

September 24, 2016

Kendall-Jackson Tomato Festival – Fulton, CA Tickets start at $95. Sonoma Valley in September is synonymous with the annual Kendall-Jackson Tomato Festival, featuring over 150 varieties of tomatoes. Tours through the gardens are offered, and samples of locally prepared food mix elegantly with some classic California wines. The event hosts a chef challenge as well, where visitors can watch local cooks compete to be the best, all to the tune of live musical performances slated throughout the day.

Labor Day Weekend 2016

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend – Vineyards around Sonoma Valley Prices vary for each event. Meet and mingle with Sonoma Valley winemakers, chefs, and artists, all while enjoying wines from this world-class region. Attend a few of the event’s scheduled lunches and dinners at the vineyards and shops to try the weekend’s featured wines while dining on some of the finest food in Sonoma County.

October 2016

Sonoma County Harvest Fair – Santa Rosa, CA $5 entrance fee or free with four non-perishable food items. Experience a California fall at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Like any memorable Sonoma event, the fair features delectable wine tastings held in the Grand Tasting Pavilion. Taste over 500 local wines, craft brews, and ciders at this beverage-centric annual event where area chefs prepare award-winning foods to pair with the drinks.

October 2016

Pinot on the River – Healdsburg, CA $75 in advance, $100 at the door. Held in the downtown Healdsburg Plaza Square, Pinot on the River grants access to award-winning limited releases of Pinot Noirs from over 100 west coast wineries. Chat with the winemakers while munching on artisan food prepared by local chefs at this red wine celebration.

November 2016

A Wine & Food Affair – Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valley Wineries $70 for a weekend pass, $50 for Sunday only, $30 for designated drivers. If the recipe box is in need of an update, you could hardly do better than spending the weekend at Sonoma’s Wine & Food Affair. Clos du Bois Winery, Robert Young Estate Winery, Starlite Vineyards, VML Winery, and over 100 other wineries throughout Sonoma County all participated in the 2015 Wine and Food Affair event, where they shared the limelight with some of the most talented culinary minds the region has to offer.

Dates have yet to be announced for the 2016 festival, so keep an eye on the calendar. There’s always something (literally) cooking in Sonoma Valley. Use this guide to annual events and festivals in the area to get a taste of the wines, the food, and the local culture this exciting region of California is known for.