Harvest Tasting Experiences & More

Rebecca Germolus on Sep 4, 2018

Wine Road harvest tasting experiences can include more than just sipping wine. With harvest upon us, wineries are offering an array of experiences. How about going behind the scenes on a cellar tour to see the action of harvest first hand, or conduct your very own wine blending trials. Take an in-depth vineyard and cellar tour that concludes with a special tasting, or explore wine possibilities in one of several specialized tastings. Come explore as we meander down the Wine Road.

Gustafson Family Vineyards
The view from Gustafson Family Vineyards on the western slopes of Dry Creek Valley.


Want to be a Winemaker?

Blending trials with a winemaker provide insight into how much skill and experience is required to make really great wine. Here are two current opportunities to try your hand at winemaking.

DeLoach Vineyards, located in Russian River Valley, is currently offering an MFS Blending Experience. DeLoach’s OFS (Our Finest Selection) showcases wines that reflect the skill and passion of their winemaker. In their MFS (My Finest Selection) Blending Experience, you’ll get to create your own version of OFS Russian River Valley Zinfandel. Following the blending session, you will take home a bottle of your very own MFS Zin with your personally designed label. You can even order a case of your MFS to share with friends and family!
Dates:  ongoing
Times: available daily at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. by appointment. Must be booked at least 48 hours in advance
Cost:   $100 per person
$80 for Wine Club Members

Sbragia Family Vineyards, in Dry Creek Valley, is hosting blending with brunch. First you’ll tour the cellar, taste through barrel samples, and discover more about varietal characteristics. Then, winemaker Adam Sbragia will guide you to make your own unique creation as he shares blending tips and techniques. The group will decide on the best blend, with the winning blend being bottled for you to take home. After the toil of winemaking, enjoy a gourmet lunch prepared by Sbragia’s estate chef.
72 hour advance notice required
Contact the Sbragia concierge at (707) 473- 2992 x107 or concierge@sbragia.com for available dates and time.
Cost: $120 for Sonoma Blend; $150 for Napa Blend
Special pricing available to Wine Club Members
Perfect for groups of 2 to 12 people.

Taste the Difference

It’s rare to have the opportunity for a true in-depth sensory experience while wine tasting. The casual tasting room visit focuses on you sipping the new release wines. With luck, you may be able to taste two or more Zinfandels or Pinot Noirs side-by-side to compare and contrast their flavors. Yet, there are many other opportunities in wine tasting to go deeper, and learn more. Here are a couple you might consider:

Dutton-Goldfield, located in Russian River Valley, is offering a Riedel Glassware Seminar on September 22nd. To fully appreciate the personality of different grape varieties and the subtle character of wines, it is essential to have an appropriately finely tuned wine glass. During this seminar, you’ll taste Dutton-Goldfield’s Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah in different shaped Riedel glasses. Experience first hand the difference that a glass makes. Attendees will take home a set of 4 Riedel Veritas glasses (value $100) after the presentation. Susan Durbrow, from Riedel, will conduct the seminar and guide you through the art of selecting the right glass to bring out the best in a wine.
Date:   September 22, 2018
Time:  11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Cost:   $80 per person; $60 for Wine Club Members

Riedel Seminar at Dutton-Goldfield
Learn the value of the correct shaped glass at Dutton-Goldfield’s Riedel Seminar.


Check out Sbragia Family Vineyards ongoing sensory tasting. Described as a workout for your olfactory muscles, this tasting experience teaches you to identify common wine aromas while tasting a flight of Sbragia wines.
Date:  Daily by appointment
Contact the Sbragia concierge at (707) 473- 2992 x107 or concierge@sbragia.com
Time: Between 10:30 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Cost:  $50 per person: $25 for Wine Club Members

DeLoach Vineyards lets you compare their Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with their French counterparts produced by the Boisset family, the owners of DeLoach plus several wineries in France. Learn how varying climates and soil types contribute to nuanced differences in the terroir of France vs. Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. This two-person minimum tasting also includes a cheese plate.
Date: Daily by appointment
Cost: $50 per person; $40 for Wine Club Members

Tour • Taste • Nosh

If you find walking around vineyards and cellars works up your appetite, then the following tour and tasting experiences will spark you interest. Each one includes delicious cuisine.

Perched on the hillside on the western edge of Dry Creek Valley, Gustafson Family Vineyards offers guided tours of their mountain vineyard and winery. As you sip through a flight of their estate-grown wines, you learn about their history, viticultural practices, and winemaking techniques. The tour concludes in their picnic area where you enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Sonoma and the Dry Creek Valley. Select your favorite wine to sip as you enjoy a boxed lunch and the spectacular view.
Dates: Friday – Monday by appointment; 707-433-2371
24 hour notice required
Time:  11 a.m.
Cost:   $45 per person; $30 for Wine Club Members

Gustafson Family Vineyards picnic area in Dry Creek Valley
Savor the wines, picnic lunch, and panoramic views from the Gustafson picnic area.


At HANNA Winery’s Russian River Valley Home Ranch, enjoy a behind the scenes tour this harvest season. Join winemaker Jeff Hinchcliffe for a personalized tour of the winery, and learn techniques garnered from his 20 years of winemaking at HANNA. Explore the vineyards and rose gardens before taking part in a beautiful picnic lunch and wine tasting on the property.
Dates: September 15th & 29th
Time:  9 .m. – 1 p.m.
Cost:  $55 for Wine Club Members; $70 for Guests
RSVP: 707-431-4310 x124 or wine@hannawinery.com

Journey beyond the walls of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, located in Alexander Valley, for a guided tour of their breathtaking vineyards, scenic vistas, lakes, chef’s garden, apiary, and more. Begin with a toast of Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble, then learn more about the history of Jordan, and their commitment to continuously innovate and elevate their wines. Next, ride in style to remote destinations where you’ll explore Sonoma County wine and food in the countryside where they’re grown, enjoying al fresco wine tastings of their current release Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, plus two library selections, their estate extra virgin olive oil, and an array of food pairing delicacies from their chef.
Dates: Monday – Thursday by appointment; Friday – Sunday reservations not required
Time:  11 a.m. & 1 p.m.
Cost: $125 per person

Jordan Vineyard & Winery tour and tasting
Jordan Vineyard & Winery offers an extensive tour of their grounds, including tastings along the way.

Kokomo Winery’s Harvest Tour starts out with an intimate brunch at the Timber Crest Farms picnic area, overlooking the awe-inspiring Dry Creek Valley. Owner and winemaker Erik Miller leads this educational, informative, and fun tour that explores the journey from grape to glass. A walk through the Timber Crest Vineyards concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at fermentation and winemaking in Kokomo’s cellar.
Dates: September 22nd & 29th
Time:  10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cost:  $50 per person: $40 for Wine Club Members

DeLoach Vineyards by-appointment tastings
Enjoy one of many specialized tastings and tours at DeLoach Vineyards.


DeLoach Vineyards’ Estate Tour & Tasting gives you the inside track on their history, philosophy, winemaking techniques, and commitment to organic and biodynamic farming on their 20-acre estate in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Savor estate vineyard wines paired with a cheese plate.
Dates: Thursday – Monday by appointment
Cost:  $50 per person: $40 for Wine Club Members

Only During Harvest

The next experiences can only happen in the fall, as these boutique wineries open their doors to give you a close-up view of harvest.

Merriam Vineyards, located in Russian River Valley, will offer harvest crush tours every day during September, while winemaking activities are underway. This small production facility gives visitors a chance to see up close what it means to sort, crush, or ferment grapes. If you call (707-433-4032) the morning you plan to visit, you can find what grapes will be arriving that day.
Dates: September 1st – 30th
Time:  10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost:  Complimentary

Rickards Winery in the Alexander Valley invites you to come by during harvest for an educational tour of their estate vineyards, production facility, and barrel storage caves. Learn how farming techniques have changed since grapes were first planted in the area over a century ago. Get a first hand look at the crush and fermentation process, and taste samples out of the tanks. Walk through the caves and learn about barrel management and how different barrel programs influence the finished wine. Plan on a minimum of 90 minutes for the tour, plus time for tasting.
Dates: Monday – Saturday during harvest
Time:  11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost:   Included in the $15 tasting fee. Fee waived with wine purchase.
RSVP: 707-758-3441 or info@jrwinery.com.

J. Rickards vineyard vista during harvest picking.
Vineyard workers picking grapes at J. Rickards Vineyard adjacent to the winery and barrel storage caves.


Harvest Tour & Tasting

If you’re seeking a comprehensive tour of vineyards and a cellar during harvest, consider visiting Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards, located in Russian River Valley. The Essence of Cutrer tour starts in the vineyards, showing you firsthand where their grapes are grown. Next you’ll explore their Grand Cru cellar and fermenting rooms. The tour wraps up in the tasting room, where you’ll sip a carefully chosen selection of wines. Allow 1½ – 2 hours for the tour and tasting.
Dates: Daily
Time:  10:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.
Cost:   $50 per person
For groups of seven or more, please call in advance for reservations (707-237-3489).

This video gives you a preview of what you might see on the Essence of Cutrer tour.

Ridge Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley offers two options for tours and tastings. The first is the Lytton Springs Estate Tour and Tasting. This personalized tour walks you through century-old vines as you explore the historic Lytton Springs property and hear of its rich history. Then you’ll tour their eco-sustainable winemaking facility built of straw bales and vineyard clay. The tour concludes with a seated tasting in a private tasting room, consisting of side-by-side comparisons of their most limited single-vineyard estate wines, including their legendary Monte Bello. Allow at least 90 minutes for this tour and tasting.
Dates: Daily, Reservations are required
Time:  11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Cost:   $35 per person; limited to 10 adults per tour

Ridge Vineyards tour vehicle.
Ride in style during your tour of Ridge Vineyards.


The Century Tour and Library Tasting is Ridge’s second offering. This unique tour provides a rare opportunity to explore their century-old estate and learn, first hand, about one of the most historic vineyards in all of California. Following the tour, you will relax in the comfort of a private tasting room and enjoy multiple older vintages from their library and the current vintage counterparts. The tasting includes a selection of artisan cheeses.
Dates: Daily, Reservations are required
Time:  11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Cost:   $45 per person; limited to 4 adults minimum (or fee equivalent) – maximum 10 adults.

Older vintages of Monte Bello can be added to the tasting for an additional $25 per person.

Barrel Tasting

If you can’t wait for the Wine Road’s annual Barrel Tasting weekends, you have a couple of opportunities to enjoy barrel samples now.

DeLoach Vineyards offers a Royal Barrel Tasting, and even lets you buy futures of the barrel samples you’ve tried.
Dates: Daily, Reservations suggested.
Time:  1:30 & 3 p.m.
Cost:  $40 per person; $32 for Wine Club Members
2 guest minimum required

Sbragia Family Vineyards has a new guided walking tour that give you the vine to wine perspective. Start in their La Promessa Estate Vineyard to learn about a grape’s life cycle and how climate and soil influence the growing season. Then tour the crush pad and cellar. While in the cellar, you’ll taste wine samples from the barrel. Finish off your experience with a tasting of their current release wines on the terrace with a panoramic view of the Dry Creek Valley.
Dates: Daily, by appointment.
Contact the Sbragia concierge at (707) 473- 2992 x107 or concierge@sbragia.com
Time:  10 a.m.
Cost:  $50 per person; $30 for Wine Club Members

Sbragia Family Vineyards tasting and cheese plateAn Anniversary Celebration & A Harvest Dinner

On September 8th & 9th, Dutton-Goldfield will celebrate their 20th Harvest in Russian River Valley by hosting a library and large format wine weekend. With your Dutton-Goldfield ‘library card’ in hand, enjoy a splash of six wines, some old and some new from their single vineyard sites.
Dates: September 8th & 9th
Times: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost:    $30 per person
Complimentary for Wine Club Members


HANNA Winery's Alexander Valley tasting room
A welcoming entry into HANNA Winery’s Alexander Valley tasting room.

On Saturday evening, September 22nd, enjoy the HANNA Winemaker’s Harvest Dinner hosted by owner Christine Hanna and winemaker Jeff Hinchliffe in their Alexander Valley location. The evening will begin with an estate vineyard and garden tour. Experience farm-to-table cuisine prepared by Chef Heidi West and paired with limited production HANNA wines. Enjoy the gorgeous fall sunset from the tasting room veranda, and toast to the 2018 vintage.
Dates: September 22nd
Times: 5 – 9 p.m.
Cost:  $120 per person; $90 for Wine Club Members
Reservations required
RSVP to 707.431.4310 x124 or wine@hannawinery.com

Want More Options?

If your favorite Wine Road winery isn’t listed above, give them a call and find out what experiences they are offering during harvest. This is a magical time of year along the Wine Road, so don’t miss your chance to have a wonderful wine experience or two in the coming weeks and months.

Happy Sipping!

@TheWineRoad #AlongTheWineRoad #Harvest2018 #HarvestMagic #WineExperiences

Posted by Rebecca Germolus

Rebecca Germolus, co-owner of Maximum Value Marketing, loves Sonoma County and playing along the Wine Road. Rebecca daily immerses herself in wine country by providing cost-effective marketing and writing solutions to wineries and restaurants.

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