If you need something to look forward to in March, this is it.
During the month of March, four of my favorite wine & food events are taking place in Sonoma’s Wine Country, which gives you four great excuses to hop in the car for a romantic road trip to the vineyards.
Take a look below, then open your calendar and start planning your March getaways to the beautiful vineyards of Sonoma County. ~ Matthew
THE 39th ANNUAL WINE ROAD BARREL TASTING
At the top of my list of favorite annual events that I always attend in Northern California is the Wine Road Barrel Tasting Weekend in Sonoma County.
Whoever came up with this idea is a genius: Each year in early March more than 100 wineries in Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys—including Rodney Strong, Chalk Hill Estate, Ridge Vineyards, Simi, and dozens more—open the doors to their wine cellars and allow the public to sample their wares straight from the barrel.
In addition, visitors have a rare opportunity to purchase wine “futures”, where you can buy the wine you’re tasting from the barrel before it’s bottled next year.
The Barrel Tasting event will be held over two weekends, March 4-6 and March 11-13, from 11am to 4pm each day. Tickets sell fast, so don’t wait. For more information and to purchase tickets log onto www.wineroad.com.
THE 10th ANNUAL ARTISAN CHEESE FESTIVAL
If you love cheese you’re definitely going to want to put this event on your calendar: the 10th-Annual Artisan Cheese Festival, held Friday through Sunday, March 18-20, in the increasingly hip town of Petaluma that’s only 32 miles north of San Francisco.
More than 8,000 attendees gather at the Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma parking lot to meet more than two dozen international award-winning cheesemakers and learn how to how to taste, buy, serve, and enjoy some of the best artisan cheeses in the country.
You’ll also get to sample locally made jams, jellies, breads, and beer from as many as 75 artisan producers. The educational seminars, cooking classes, wine pairings, and tastings are led by cheesemakers, chefs, and fromagiers (I didn’t even know that was a word) from across the country, and virtually every session involves tastings and/or pairings of artisan cheeses.
Only a limited number of tickets to the festival are available, so I highly recommend buying them far in advance (like, today) at artisancheesefestival.com.
THE 7th ANNUAL SONOMA COUNTY RESTAURANT WEEK
If you like great food at bargain prices, you’re going to love Sonoma County Restaurant Week. Starting on Monday, March 7th and running through Sunday, March 13th, more than 100 Sonoma County restaurants are participating in a seven-day celebration of the county’s finest foods.
Each restaurant will be offering a 2-course prix-fixe lunch option priced at $10 or $15, and/or a 3-course dinner menu at a fixed price of $19, $29, or $39 (or all three depending on the restaurant), which allows you the opportunity to sample some of Sonoma’s finest farm-fresh cuisine at a very steep discount.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about new restaurants, and yet you’ll spend as little as $19 on a 3-course meal (tax, tip, and wine aren’t included of course). So grab a notebook and a pen, log onto www.sonomacountyrestaurantweek.org, and start planning your culinary getaway to Sonoma County. No tickets or passes required, but reservations are strongly recommended.
SAVOR SONOMA VALLEY: A PREMIUM WINE & CULINARY EXPERIENCE
On Saturday & Sunday, March 19-20, join more than 20 wineries throughout Sonoma Valley for a memorable wine and food experience called Savor Sonoma Valley. Each winery will be showcasing their 2015 vintage wines straight from the barrels, sampling new releases, and offering award-winning wines paired perfectly with culinary creations prepared by local chefs and restaurants.
Meet winemakers, mingle with wine lovers behind-the-scenes, peruse art from local artists, and listen to live music. This is a rare opportunity to experience the best that Sonoma Valley has to offer. Log on to www.heartofsonomavalley.com for more information and to purchase tickets.
The events listed above are just a fraction of the fun, romantic, and family-friendly things to do in Sonoma’s Wine Country. For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit SonomaCounty.com or call 800/576-6662.