One of our favorite times to visit Wine Country is in the winter. It’s less crowded, but no less gorgeous, with its serene, misty wintertime beauty. And, despite the colder weather and grapeless vines, the area has no shortage of events and no shortage of fine wines. No matter if you’re traveling for the holidays or staying local, these winter events in Sonoma County have got just the right mix of wine, food, and festivities.
November 17 – December 31, 2018
The Sonoma Plaza in the town of Sonoma is a national historic monument, an eight-acre park with stately trees and quiet, pedestrian pathways. From November 17 until the end of the year, these trees will be filled with more than a quarter-million lights (not to mention winter wonderland cheer) to usher in the holiday season. Come out November 17th in particular – there will be a tree lighting ceremony and a Broadway performance by Transcendence Theatre Company as well as local food, wine, hot cider, hot chocolate, and cookies.
453 1st Street East, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 996-2109
November 22, 2018, 1:00 – 8:00 PM
Cost: $135 per person, $50 per child 6 – 12, free for children 5 and under
Celebrating the holidays at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa conjures up a sense of old-world elegance. Enjoying their Thanksgiving Buffet in the acclaimed Santé dining room makes a turkey dinner all the more ritzy. Dine like royalty with decadent plates of slow-roasted turkey infused with organic herb and garlic butter, Calvados drunken and glazed roast pig, local artisanal cheeses, white sturgeon and trout caviars, stone crab claws, truffle mac and cheese gratin, Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut chocolate panna cotta… the list goes on and on and on.
100 Boyes Boulevard, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-9000
November 22, 2018, 8:00 AM
Cost: $35 – $50 for adults, $25 – $40 for kids 6 – 8, free for children 5 and under
After some typical Thanksgiving gluttony, work it all off with friends and family at the Healdsburg Turkey Trot. You can walk or run the 5k through the Healdsburg Open Space Preserve – the most important thing is that you gather your loved ones and get moving. Prizes will be awarded to the first finishers, and also given for great costumes, so trot festive! In addition to getting your blood flowing (and working off some of those pumpkin pie calories), know that your entry is going to a good cause. Event benefits will go to the Drew Esquivel Scholarship, which supports students and athletes from the Healdsburg community in their dream to attend college. Spread that holiday cheer while getting in a bit of exercise.
333 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 395-0372
November 23 – 25 and select dates December 1 – 16, 2018, 1:00, 3:00
and 5:00 PM
Cost: $34 – $55, $27 for kids under 15
No need to go to Paris, or even Las Vegas, to see the spectacle that is a Cirque show. At Cirque de Bohème in Sonoma, you’ll find gravity-defying acrobatics, impressive balancing acts, and entertaining mimes in this performance inspired by the French circus tradition of the 1900s – think Moulin Rouge, but with a holiday twist. This year’s event, which is themed “Yesterday,” is sure to transport you to a magical world filled with enchantment, adventure, and wonder.
23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 933-3010
November 25-December 31, 2018, 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM
Cost: $99 for the day tour, $59 for the evening tour
Offered for just five weeks each year, Holidays in Healdsburg: Sip, Savor, and Shop are guided walking tours of charming downtown Healdsburg. With festive decorations, joyful carolers, horse-drawn carriages, and a gorgeous Christmas tree, there’s already plenty of spirit in the air to add to your favorite holiday aromatics and flavors. The four-hour day tour takes you through three boutique wineries and two food stops, while the two-hour evening tour will have you sampling wine cocktails, holiday spirits, and savory bites at several of Healdsburg’s top restaurants.
217 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-6935
November 30 – December 2, 2018, 2:00 and 7:30 PM
Cost: $39 – $139
This new and captivating holiday show is put on by Transcendence, the award-winning creators of “Broadway Under the Stars in Sonoma Valley.” With performers from Broadway shows such as WICKED, WHITE CHRISTMAS, MARY POPPINS, and MAMMA MIA, this holiday song and dance celebration is entertainment fit for the whole family. Expect holiday favorites as well as modern twists on some of the world’s most cherished songs during this fun, uplifting performance worth checking out.
50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, (707) 546-3600
December 1, 2018, 4:00 – 8:00 PM
Kicking off with a festival and lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 1, this cheerful display of decorative snowmen at Cornerstone Sonoma is a sight to see. The event began in 2004 after David Allen, who owns Artefact Design & Salvage, discovered hundreds of decorative snowmen at a factory in Boston that was closing, then decided to purchase them all to showcase at Cornerstone. Enjoy live music, kids’ activities, and wine and beer for the adults at this annual event, which has become a Sonoma Valley tradition the whole family will enjoy. If you miss the festival, the snowmen will remain up through the end of December for all to enjoy.
23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 933-3010
December 1, 2018, 9:00 – 5:00 PM, December 2, 2018, 10:00 – 4:00 PM
Cost: $3, free for children 12 and under
More than 90 local artists will be on hand at this festive shopping event, where quality, handcrafted holiday gifts and unique home goods will be for sale. It’s a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping while embracing all the Christmas feels. There will be live entertainment, a kids’ craft area on Saturday, kettle corn, and plenty of snowmen and decorated trees for the perfect photo opp. Once you’ve checked everyone off your list, you can jump on Rosie the Trolley for a free ride to the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Holiday Open House, happening the same weekend.
2060 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 543-3737
December 7 – 9, 2018, 10:00 – 4:30 PM
Need some last minute Christmas gifts? Or maybe you just don’t want to wait until Boxing Day to score some good deals? Stop by the Korbel Holiday Shopping Spree Weekend to pick up some of your favorite bubbly and keep the winter cheer going strong all season. Korbel Champagne Cellars will be running special sales at their Guerneville estate. Keep an eye out for Christmas carolers, as well as a special appearance from Santa Claus. Best of all – there’s no ticket fee to get in and start shopping, or to partake in a public winery tour and wine tasting. Their winery tour takes you through historic champagne cellars and a history museum, culminating in a tasting of their best bubbly.
13250 River Road, Guerneville, CA 95446, (707) 824-7000
December 9, 2018, 10:00 – 3:00 PM
Cost: $65 for adults, $25 for kids 6 – 16, free for children 5 and under
Celebrate the season with a delicious, farm-to-table brunch that is sure to leave you happy and satisfied, starting with the complimentary spiked eggnog shooter upon arrival. From gingerbread spiced waffles and farm-fresh omelets to assorted salads and herb-roasted prime rib, this impressive spread is a delectable way to celebrate the season. There’s also a Christmas workshop for the kids with cookie decorating and ornament making, as well as pictures with Santa. Bring your appetite and your holiday cheer for a festive meal you don’t want to miss.
450 West Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 933-0450
Cost: $110 – $210
Madrona Manor’s annual Dickens Dinner Series is back again. The Michelin-starred restaurant will be serving up an elegant pre-fixe, five-course menu, including pumpkin and truffle risotto, dungeness crab salad, and osetra caviar, all with a thoughtful wine pairing for each course. Don’t be surprised when you see a troop of costumed carolers wander through the rooms, breaking out into an a cappella serenade of Jingle Bells at any given moment.
1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-4231
January 19 – 20, 2019, 11:00 – 4:00 PM
Cost: $40 – $50, $7 for designated drivers
Sometimes, with all the feastly holiday events in months past, life feels a little flat on the other side of the new year. Kick the celebration back into gear with the 27th Annual Winter WINEland in Northern Sonoma County. All participating wineries will highlight a vintage, varietal, or vertical tasting for the weekend, so it’ll be a great time to meet winemakers and taste limited production wines, new releases, or library wines.