To me, summer in California isn't just sand between my toes. It's wine
stains on my teeth. For about three months, the state is buzzing with the
country's best wine events.
These five events are at the top of this summer's agenda for me. They are special for a reason. One takes you through rugged, off-the-beaten wine paths. A few include wow-worthy food. And most involve doing something in addition to drinking amazing wines.
Passport Days to the Santa Cruz Mountains
Date & Place: July 20 at Santa Cruz, South Bay and Peninsula wineries
Details: $45; www.scmwa.com
Lowdown: Four times a year, some 30 wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains and outlying areas open their cellar doors for samples of their handcrafted artisan wines, gourmet food pairings and entertainment. You can take vineyard tours, meet winemakers and grape growers and sample exclusive vintages from wineries generally not open to the public. It's the best way to experience this unassuming yet world-class wine region.
Taste of Terroir
Date & Place: 6 to 9 p.m. July 18, Casa Real, 410 Vineyard Ave., Pleasanton
Details: $85; www.lvwine.org
I've been five times, and I still get excited about Livermore Valley's annual quest for food and wine-pairing excellence. Each year, 20 winemakers partner with local chefs to create signature dishes that complement the local wines -- and win your votes. It's fun to compare your favorite pairings with the picks by the judges, and mingle with winemakers and chefs. Plus, there's a dessert table of epic proportions.
Date & Place: Noon to 4 p.m. July 20 and 21, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma
Details: $65; www.gloriaferrer.com
Lowdown: This is a multisensory experience that transports you to Spain with traditional savory tapas, classical guitar, flamenco dancing and Gloria Ferrer's gorgeous sparking wines. The winery's caves and vineyards are transformed to look like Las Ramblas, the popular main street in Barcelona. Watch a paella cooking demo or join a festive grape stomp while listening to music and entertainment provided by Sol Flamenco and Makru.
Wine Lands at Outside Lands
Date & Place: Aug. 10, 11 and 12 at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Details: $295.50 for three days; www.sfoutsidelands.com
Lowdown: I know, it's expensive. But if you're thinking about splurging to attend the Bay Area's music event of the summer (or if you already have a ticket), consider yourself blessed, because the 2013 Wine Lands lineup reads like a who's who of cult, natural, rare or otherwise hipster, in-the-know wine purveyors. At press time, the 32 wineries included Scholium Project, Envolve Winery, and Summer of Riesling with Paul Grieco. Be prepared to get slapped with a riesling tattoo.
Family Winemakers of California
Date & Place: 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 17, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco
Details: $45-$100; www.familywinemakers.org
Lowdown: A showcase for the state's small (5,000 cases max), family-owned wineries, this epic tasting gives you unlimited access to more than 250 wineries from 20-plus California appellations pouring more than 35 varietals and 800 different wines. Too many numbers? Don't fret. Note-taking isn't necessary because orders may be placed at this tasting, and many wineries will be offering special pricing and "Taste and Take" sales. Try. Buy. Repeat.
Contact Jessica Yadegaran at email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/swirlgirl_jy.
(c)2013 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.contracostatimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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