Wine is as much a part of the California lifestyle as catching a wave, communing with ancient redwoods, and top-down cruising along the Golden State’s majestic coastline. As the home of 620,000 acres of vineyards and 4,200 wineries, California produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s wine. That’s no small achievement, and it calls for a big celebration. Throughout the month of September—officially designated as California Wine Month—wineries across California are hosting behind-the-scenes harvest tours, festivals, grape stomps, and lots more.
Whether you’re strolling the urban wineries along the Mid-Peninsula Wine Trail in San Carlos, learning how to harvest grapes in Napa Valley, or enjoying a private tasting in the Anderson Valley in the North Coast region, there are dozens of events and experiences planned all over the state. To get you started on your California Wine Month adventure, here are 10 awesome ways to celebrate—along with tips for bringing the excitement of harvest straight to your home. (To view the full calendar of California Wine Month events and activities, go to Discover California Wines.)
1. Bring the Harvest Home with Classic California Recipes
California Grown has teamed up with California Wines and Visit California to create a free recipe e-book. Iconic California Dishes to Celebrate California Wine Month features classic California creations like Chinese Chicken Salad, Cioppino Pasta, and even a spin on “animal-style” fries from In-N-Out.
2. Take A Behind-the-Scenes Crushpad Tour
Head to Dutton Estate Winery in Sebastopol on Fridays and Saturdays from Sept. 2 to Oct. 1 for free Crushpad Tours and watch behind-the-scenes harvest action from vine to tank. The Dutton family has farmed in Sonoma County for six generations, and you can taste that proud legacy in their celebrated Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
3. Take a Deep Dive into Sustainability
Robert Hall Winery in Paso Robles hosts Sunday Sustainability Tours Sept. 4–25. Dive into regenerative viticulture practices like cover-cropping and drone-enabled pest management, then sample the results with a tasting of Robert Hall’s Cavern Select lineup—including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Carignan.
4. Raise a Glass to the Grape
Bring the family along to Grape Day Park in Escondido Sept. 10 for the Escondido Grape Day Festival. The free festival in San Diego County dates back to 1908 and includes grape stomping, local wine tasting, food vendors, antique farm machinery, children’s games, and live music.
5. Mix Up a California Wine Cocktail
Toast California Wine Month wherever you happen to live with a California 75 cocktail from the Iconic California Dishes recipe e-book. A take on the classic French 75, this lemony refresher combines California sparkling wine, dry vermouth, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
6. Get Your Hands Dirty
Captain Vineyards in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area town of Moraga offers would-be winemakers a chance to get down and dirty at the Harvest & Crush Experience. On select dates between Sept. 10 and Oct. 11, participants pick and crush grapes, then refuel with a harvest lunch featuring Captain’s low-intervention red blends.
7. Raise a Paddle for a Charity
The Sonoma County Wine Auction weekend is back Sept. 15–17 with intimate winemaker dinners, a Roaring `20s party at Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery, and plenty of auction action at Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg—all to benefit Sonoma County nonprofits. Up for bid this year is the 300-bottle Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.) dream collection of wines from Sonoma County’s most legendary producers, including Williams Selyem, Ridge, Joseph Swan, Kosta Browne, and Cobb Wines.
8. Cultivate a New Crush
Meet and mingle with winemakers at Temecula Valley Crush on Sept. 17, hosted by Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula. The walk-around tasting showcases wines from more than 30 award-winning producers from this Inland Empire hub, along with tasty bites from local caterers. The winery lineup includes Baily Vineyard & Winery, Miramonte Winery, Robert Renzoni, and South Coast Winery, among many others.
9. Say Namaste
Join Rombauer Vineyards in the Amador County town of Plymouth for a morning vinyasa yoga session Sept. 21. Afterward, rejuvenate with a curated brunch box and a glass of Rombauer’s famously buttery Chardonnay.
10. Take a Virtual Wine Country Tour
From Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, join California Grown for a virtual agri-tour of Monterey County, joined by wine and food influencers including Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life and Amanda McCrossin of SommVivant. Follow @california.wines and @cagrownofficial on Instagram and the California Wines Facebook page to get inspired for your next California wine adventure.