5 Ways to Experience Harvest Season in California Wine Country

By Sonoma County Tourism
September 28, 2023
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Grapes on a vine in Sonoma County, California by Hari Nandakumar - Unsplash

As the days begin to mellow in late summer and early fall, and the pace of life takes on a serene rhythm, harvest season is the time to immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of Sonoma County, California. Embrace the art of slowing down and find solace in the breathtaking landscapes that surround you. Explore sun-soaked vineyards, where the grapevines are heavy with promise. Engage in mindful moments as you savor farm-to-table delights and award-winning wines, all while basking in the warm glow of the summer season's twilight. Here are five ways to enjoy the harvest season this year in California wine country.

Tour studios along the Sonoma County Art Trails

More than 120 artists from all over Sonoma County will be selected by an anonymous jury to open their studios to the public September 30th through October 1st and October 7th through 8th for Sonoma County Art Trails, a signature program of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Utilizing the free collector's guide (available both in print and online), visitors may curate their own art tour as they roam Sonoma County, a place where the thriving artists community, superb cuisine and world renowned wineries intertwine. Blue signage leads the way to individual studios where visitors may view a wide range of art mediums including paintings, collage, drawing, printmaking, glass art, fiber arts, sculpture, jewelry and assemblages.

Sip pinot noir in Santa Rosa

The countryside on Santa Rosa, California by Donghun Shin - Unsplash

The 20th Annual Pinot On the River takes place on Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Santa Rosa on October 7th from 11am to 3pm. Enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs that Sonoma County has to offer as more than 40 small-production artisanal wineries join with guest artisan food vendors. Pinot on the River is a benefit for Sonoma County LGBT Pride, which is dedicated to enhancing the lives and well-being of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) community and allies throughout Sonoma County.

Grape stomp at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair

Handfuls of ripened grapes by Maja Petric - Unsplash

Grape stomping may have originated in ancient Rome, but Sonoma County can claim the World Championship Grape Stomp as our own. As part of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair on October 14th, the annual grape stomp in Santa Rosa invites people of all ages to compete in the winemaking tradition of crushing grapes by foot. “Stompers” crush the grapes while “swabbies” direct the juice into the glass jugs. During the final round, 60 pounds of grapes will be stomped for five minutes. Whichever team fills the jugs with the most juice wins. Costumes are encouraged. Attendees can access the event with a Harvest Fair entry ticket.

Enjoy music in the vineyards

Third Fridays of the month through October Foley Sonoma Winery is offering FoSo Fridays: Music in the Vineyard, special evenings of wine, live music, and inventive food pairings from the Foley estate chef. Gather with friends in reserved lounge areas or bring chairs and blankets to settle in on the FoSo lawn overlooking Foley's estate vineyards.

Get hands-on with Small Vines Winery

Fall colors along Sebastopol, California by Dimitri Jablokov - Unsplash

Immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful and exciting times of the year in Sonoma County. For those who always wanted to work in the vineyard during harvest season, if only for just a day. Get your hands dirty, smell the grapes being pulled from the vines, and experience what goes on in a day during grape harvest at a small production family-owned winery. Experience the heart of winemaking as you join forces with the Small Vines team for guided, hands-on morning harvest activities, enjoy Al-Fresco farm-to-picnic-basket dining, luxurious chauffeured transportation from Farmhouse Inn to Small Vines Winery and return in the epitome of Farmhouse Volvo elegance. Throughout the day, a dedicated driver will be at the ready, ensuring your journey is as stylish as your destination. Seize the opportunity to unwind in luxury as you spend the night at Farmhouse Inn and breakfast for two. This experience is offered through November 17 and subject to availability.

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Get into the Oktoberfest Spirit with These Fun Activities

Every fall, towns across the country feature Oktoberfest-inspired festivals and events showcasing great brews, as well as German cuisine, autumn-inspired activities, and more. If you're excited about these beer-centric events and looking for a more unique way to celebrate, check out one of the activities below to get into the Oktoberfest spirit. Ride on down to Biketoberfest (Daytona Beach, Florida) Daytona Beach Biketoberfest - courtesy of Daytona Beach Area CVB Sure, Oktoberfest is fun... but have you heard of Biketoberfest? Motorcycling enthusiasts will descend upon the Daytona Beach area by the thousands on October 19-22 for the 31st annual Biketoberfest®, regarded by many as one of the top motorcycle rallies in the southeastern United States. The popular, four-day rally attracts motorcycle enthusiasts to the Daytona Beach area and neighboring communities throughout Volusia County with beautiful Florida weather, live music, the industry's top vendors, bike shows, motorcycle racing at Daytona International Speedway, and miles of scenic rides along famous A1A, historic Main Street and the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop. As motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages and riding all types of bikes explore the area, they will discover plenty of new additions. New restaurants include Stroud's BBQ located in Daytona Lagoon, Harry's Famous Pizza at the Ocean Walk Shoppes, Millie's second seafood restaurant location in Ormond Beach named Millie's North and Café Con Leche Granada, an Ormond Beach establishment that serves authentic Cuban, Mexican and Puerto Rican food. For those posting their journeys on social, the Daytona Beach Mural Trail offers visitors some colorful and creative new photo ops as well as the Riverfront Esplanade located in Downtown Daytona Beach. In addition, the recently renovated Daytona Beach Pier and Racing's North Turn Beach Bar and Grille in Ponce Inlet have reopened to guests. Attend an adults-only "beer camp" (Sonoma County, California) Who didn't love summer camp as a kid? Time outdoors with friends, late night slumber parties, and all the treats you couldn't have at home. What if we told you that we have something even better than that? Fogbelt Beer Camp at Wildhaven is designed for our rad beer lovers who's happy place is with nature. This two-night adult camp features amazing Fogbelt beers, live music, wood-fired cooking and so much more, all at the popular Wildhaven glamping experience located along the Russian River in Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County. Featured activities include wood fire cooking, coffee roasting, yoga, astronomy, live music, barrel aged beers, falconry, wilderness first aid, and brewing techniques. This year's camp takes place October 20th through 22nd. Head to this Smoky Mountain fall festival (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) Fall decor in Gatlinburg, Tennessee by Sean Foster - Unsplash From now through the end of October, the Smoky Mountain vacation town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is celebrating with Anakeesta's Bear-Varian Fall Festival. Anakeesta is decked out with pumpkins, seasonal décor, beer tasting, haunted rides on the Rail Runner, nighttime zip line rides, live music and movie nights on weekends in October. This year, guests can purchase an additional add-on Beer Tasting Experience to general admission tickets for $21.99. With each pass, guests will be allowed to taste six 8 oz. pours of beer from multiple locations around the park. Anakeesta has partnered with four prestigious local breweries to bring a one-of-a-kind beer sampling experience to the Smoky Mountains including Gypsy Circus, Blackhorse Brewing, Tailgate Brewery, Highland Brewing, and Blackberry Farms. In addition to great brews, specialty seasonal food offerings are available throughout the park. For German-themed treats, there's pork schnitzel with brussels and smashed potatoes at Cliff Top Restaurant, bratwurst and kraut at Kephart Café, and German chocolate cake funnel fries at the Snack Shack. Explore Chicago with the new Brew Pass (Chicago, Illinois) A bartender pours beer on tap by Louis Hansel - Unsplash Choose Chicago recently launched the Chicago Brew Pass, a new initiative to promote exploration of Chicago’s award-winning craft brewery scene. Through the Brew Pass, the first-ever digital pass of its kind in Chicago, locals and visitors can check in at breweries across the city and earn points that can be redeemed for fun, limited-edition prizes. Participants can use the Brew Pass to explore over 20 participating craft breweries at their own pace and start earning rewards one pint at a time!“Chicago’s craft beer scene is integral to our local hospitality industry,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of Choose Chicago. “I am so excited to work with our partners to launch the Chicago Brew Pass and I encourage residents and visitors alike to use it as a tool to discover new local businesses and explore parts of the city they may not have been familiar with before.” Participating breweries and taprooms include Begyle Brewing, Casa Humilde Cerveceria, DryHop Brewers, Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery, Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Maplewood Brewery & Distillery, Midwest Coast Brewing Company, Twisted Hippo, and many more. Points can be redeemed for limited-edition prizes including a variety of gear and sweepstakes entry for the ultimate Chicago weekend experience for two, which includes a two-night hotel stay for two in downtown Chicago, $100 restaurant gift card, two theater tickets, and two CityPASS tickets. Prizes will remain available while supplies last.


Spooky Destinations to Visit This Halloween

If you're looking for ghost towns, haunted houses, and creepy attractions to visit this fall, look no further than these destinations below. From dark local histories to paranormal investigative hot spots, there's something for every Halloween enthusiast looking for a perfectly frightful October getaway. Hear witchy stories in New England An autumn day in Salem, Massachusetts by Laura Michalski - Unsplash One of the most quintessentially "Halloween" towns is Salem, Massachusetts, thanks to its unique history. New England, in general, offers a great destination for fall getaways, too. Along with the autumn colors and fantastically crisp weather, this part of the country has some of the oldest buildings as well as key historic sites from early American military conflicts (a perfect combination for hauntings!). For a classic Halloween activity, Better Than Fiction's Salem Walking Tours offers tours around witchcraft as well as dark local tales beyond the infamous trials. Step back into the Old West at this ghost town A boarded up building in Kirwin, Wyoming - courtesy of Wyoming Office of Tourism Along the Wood River near Meeteetse and situated on U.S. Forest Service land is Kirwin, one of the most intriguing abandoned places in Wyoming. During the 1890s, Kirwin had 38 buildings and approximately 200 residents, many of whom journeyed to the settlement during its gold and silver boom. In the winter of 1907, a massive snowstorm caused an avalanche, taking lives and thus beginning the slow deterioration of the town itself. In the 1930s, the land became part of the Double Dee Guest Ranch, visited by Amelia Earhart and her husband, George Putnam. A cabin was under construction for Earhart when she disappeared during her around-the-world flight in 1937 that was never completed.If you wish to explore the ghost town and its potential haunting, you want to make sure you have four-wheel drive. You can book private tours or snag an ATV for an off-road adventure. View the remnants of her cabin, which are visible about a mile from Kirwin, as well as an old hotel, small log structures, and mining machinery at this old West ghost town. After visiting Kirwin, be sure to stop the Irma Hotel in nearby Cody, Wyoming. In 1902, Buffalo Bill opened the Irma Hotel, naming it after his daughter. Stay a night in Room 35 if you're brave—known as the Paul Stock room, it is one of the original 15 rooms in the hotel and has been the scene of the most ghost stories in the hotel. Elsewhere, down the hall in Room 16, many guests have reported seeing an apparition of Irma Cody Garlow sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room. She died of influenza and pneumonia in the hotel when she was 35, and just a few days after her husband and hotel manager Fred Garlow died of pneumonia. Employees of the hotel have even said they've seen Buffalo Bill wandering the hallways at night, or have heard the jangle of spurs in the bar when it's closed for the evening. Uncover Civil War haunts and more in Tennessee The sun on the horizon over Franklin, Tennessee by Josh Withers - Unsplash Just outside of Nashville, in Franklin, Tennessee, is the Lotz House. It is considered one of the most haunted places in the country, and with its history, one can easily see why. The house, which has been on the National Historic Register since 1976 is located at “ground zero” of the Civil War's Battle of Franklin. Historians describe the fighting that took place at the Battle of Franklin and in the Lotz front yard “some of the most severe hand to hand fighting during the four year long war.” Ten thousand Americans were killed, wounded or missing. The Lotz House served as a hospital for the wounded soldiers on both sides until the following summer. Book a special evening ghost tour and take a chance to experience the spirits and other unexplained phenomenon that are said to haunt the historic home. Tennessee is home to several other great spooky attractions that visitors can add to their itinerary. Nearby, in Nashville on October 27th, visitors can also plan a trip to experience The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, an interactive one-man play about the classic horror tale at The Hermitage with showings at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. In Manchester, the Manchester Zombie Walk and Halloween Faire takes place on Friday, Oct. 13 at Fred Deadman Park will feature vendors, face-painting, axe throwing, food trucks, live bands and a spooky good time. Head to New Orleans for pirates and voodoo Crescent City is full of creepy sites. This city offers the highest number of haunted hotels and ghost tours, and ranked number 5 overall in the best cities for paranormal activities. Used as a hospital during the Civil War, Hotel Provincial allegedly houses a few ghostly guests. Spirits spotted at the Old Absinthe House include infamous pirate Jean Lafitte, Andrew Jackson, and Louisiana Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. Visit sites iconic to “The Vampire Chronicles” author on the Unofficial Anne Rice Tour. Encounter the paranormal along the Pacific Coast A graveyard in Yountville, California by Melissa Mullin - Unsplash This, Los Angeles, California was ranked the #1 city to visit for paranormal activity by LawnLove. Their metrics show that the City of Angels has the most paranormal conventions and events, the 5th most ghost tours, and the most haunted sites; interestingly, it is also the second best city to visit for witches and 4th best for vampires, according to additional LawnLove studies. California also comes in as the best state to look for UFOs. Ghosts seem to haunt the City of Angels with a dramatic flair at performance venues The Comedy Store and Pantages Theatre. Book a night at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for potential encounters with the star-studded spirits of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. In nearby Burbank, find oddities and interactive exhibits for paranormal activity lovers and horror fans at the Mystic Museum. Nearby, San Diego took 4th place in the best paranormal cities rankings. Book your own paranormal investigation at the Whaley House, the self-proclaimed “America’s Most Haunted House.” A short drive from Downtown San Diego, a ghost reportedly haunts the beachside Hotel del Coronado. Learn more about the phantoms haunting Downtown San Diego at the Ghosts of the Gaslamp weekly walking tour. Also in California is Willow Creek, the so-called Bigfoot Capital of the World. Learn more about the Pacific Coast Bigfoot at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, or search for it yourself in the Redwoods.


4 Scariest Halloween Celebrations in the Northeast

Fair warning: These Halloween celebrations are not for everyone. With screams, (fake) blood, and surprises worthy of a Hollywood thriller, these haunted attractions are perfect for those who like to be scared out of their wits at least once each October. 1. Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA Delirium at Halloween Nights - Courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary A weekend or overnight to Philadelphia this time of year may offer the most terrifying Halloween thrill in America. Eastern State Penitentiary was closed long ago for its horrific treatment of inmates, and the fright fest they put on each fall is even scarier the that. With 5 different hauntings from Creepy clowns to vampires and even a 3D haunting - be prepared for a sleepless night! 2. 13th Hour Haunted House, Wharton, NJ 13 Hour Haunted House - Courtesy of 13thhour.com This haunted house in New Jersey gets high marks for re-creating the feel of an actual run-down old house. You don’t feel as if you are visiting a theme park attraction, and that makes the ghosts, ghouls, and zombies all the more terrifying. 13th Hour offers a variety of experiences, including one in which you throw hatchets in the dark with glow in the dark hatchets and targets. And, 13th hour is also famous for its “escape room” experience. 3. Blood Manor, Tribeca, NYC Blood Manor - Courtesy of BloodManor/Photo Credit BPS Productions You don’t have to leave NYC to experience a haunted house. Blood Manor, in TriBeCa, is one of the hottest tickets in town. Some of the ghouls and zombies have a decidedly "downtown" goth vibe and look as if they shop at the iconic Trash & Vaudeville punk/both boutique in the East Village to be honest. Be sure to check out Lights Out, where you explore the manor in complete darkness with nothing but a glow stick to light your path. This is only offered on 2 nights so be sure to book tickets. Other attractions are a wake for a character named Baby Face, and a Killer Clown room that I, for one, will not be entering. 5. Reapers Revenge, Blakely, PA The Lost Carnival at Reapers Revenge - Courtesy of Reapers Revenge This haunted house will torture you with five intense attractions featuring clowns, cannibalistic mutants, and hayrides that will have you sweating with fear as you venture deeper into the realm of Reaper’s Forest. Consistently voted one of the top 10 haunted attractions in the US every year. After experiencing these nightmares you will want to sleep with the lights on for a long time!


This Hawaiian Cruise Benefits Rebuilding Efforts in Maui

Pioneers in small ship adventure cruising, UnCruise Adventures, recently unveiled their latest 'Aloha Days' Hawaii deals, where every booking is a step towards supporting Maui recovery. For every new booking made during 'Aloha Days' until September 28th, a portion of each deposit will directly contribute to Maui Strong, an initiative to rebuild and rejuvenate Maui and Lahaina town. UnCruise Adventures itineraries are deeply woven with the communities and lands they touch. This is especially true for Hawaiian adventures. The real essence of Hawaii lies not just in its breathtaking landscapes but in its people, traditions, and the stories they share. With the recent events affecting Maui and Lahaina town, this is a reminder of the profound interconnectedness of our adventures with the wellbeing of these communities and the importance of supporting them. The sun shines on the horizon in Kona, Hawaii by Peter Luo - Unsplash “Aloha Days' is not just about offering unbeatable seasonal offers to our guests. It's about embodying the true spirit of Aloha. By supporting a return to travel we can also contribute to the recovery and discovery of the very essence that makes Hawaii so special,” commented UnCruise Adventures, Owner and Captain Dan Blanchard. “Come, join us, and let's make a difference together. This itinerary comes from my heart and each time I visit I'm reminded of why I created this adventure.” The current campaign offers deals on cruises including: Waived Single Supplement: Solo adventurers come aboard. No single supplement on select dates for all Hawaii 2023 sailings and early 2024 sailings. Group Incentives: For every group of 12 paid guests, one sails free. Combine with other savings for even more benefits. Some restrictions apply. Valid for all Hawaii 2023 sailings and early 2024 sailings. Unbeatable Cabin Savings: Get $1,500 off per couple or $750 off per person. Stack this offer with other select savings. Some restrictions apply. Valid for all Hawaii 2023 sailings and early 2024 sailings. Double Kids in Nature Savings: Receive $1,000 off per child, with two paying adults. Normally $500 per child. Can be combined with selected offers. Some restrictions apply. Valid for all Hawaii 2023 sailings and early 2024 sailings. Jellyfish near Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands by Jake Houglum - Unsplash These seasonal offers apply to the 7-night Hawaiian Seascapes Adventure that explores from Kona to Molokai or reverse, Molokai to Kona. The 2023-2024 season runs from Nov 18th, 2023, to May 4th, 2024. This includes Hawaii's breathtaking landscapes, volcanic wonders, and rich culture. Guests embark on multi-activity adventures daily, from hiking volcanoes to swimming with manta rays. The all-inclusive week-long itinerary embarks on the Safari Explorer, a 36-passenger vessel built for adventure. Enjoy fresh cuisine, no extra onboard costs, no lines, no crowds, and plenty of adventure.