On International Cabernet Day (August 30), there’s only one way to celebrate: with an excellent glass (or two) of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the most celebrated Cabs come from California’s 3,000-plus wineries.
As you ponder the black currant flavors and tobacco notes, consider the king of red's place in our country’s vintner-cultural history. In decades past, American wines were once considered second tier. All that changed after the famous “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 when U.S. vintages were pitted in a blind tasting against the best of France. The winner? A bottle from Stags’ Leap Winery, specifically a 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The celebration doesn’t have to start and end before Labor Day, of course—and there’s no reason to limit yourself to one varietal. September ushers in California Wine Month and with it some incredible celebrations throughout the state. Here are a few of the full-bodied festivities.
September 1: Taste of Sonoma, Rohnert Park
To kick off California Wine Month, more than 200 wineries will head to Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, bringing with them thousands of wines. Taste to your heart’s content while noshing on bites from Sonoma County chefs.
September 1: I.E. Jazz Experience, Rancho Cucamonga
Mountain Vista Winery welcomes lovers of jazz and Chardonnay to its picturesque grounds for a day of live performances and rare tasting opportunities. The Rancho Cucamonga winery has been in business since 1904, harvesting grapes from the Cucamonga Valley.
September 2: Viszlay Vineyards Grape Stomp, Healdsburg
Fuel up with a tasty lunch and delicious wine from Viszlay Vineyards in Healdsburg before trying your luck at the competitive stomp. Teams have 60 seconds to extract as much juice as possible from the grapes underfoot.
September 2: Wildhorse Music Festival, Temecula
Country music pairs with Southern California wine at this lively Temecula celebration of Americana. Enjoy the “Best of Temecula” tasting then grab your cowboy boots for line dancing.
September 7–9: Wine Song, Fort Bragg
Enjoy the bounty of Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties at this two-day Fort Bragg event, which begins with a celebration of Pinot Noir at the Little River Inn and ends with an all-day food and wine event at the lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
September 8: Santa Barbara Polo and Wine Festival, Santa Barbara
Dust off your wide-brimmed hat and tortoiseshell binoculars for this event hosted by the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Watch the ponies, sip Santa Barbara wines, listen to live music from local artists, and dirty your heels at the champagne divot stomp.
September 10: Sabores de Wine Country Latino Food and Wine Festival, Santa Rosa
September 15: V. Sattui Winery: 2018 Harvest Ball, St. Helena
Ring autumn in with style at the 34th annual Harvest Ball in St. Helena. Guests can revel in the beauty of the Tuscan-inspired, Napa Valley grounds before sitting down to dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, accompanied by award-winning wines from V. Sattui.
September 20: Farm-to-Fork Legends of Wine, Sacramento
Internationally known wine experts Darrell Corti and David Berkley select the very best pours from the Sacramento region for guests to enjoy along with local cheeses and other small bites. This outdoor event offers views of the Capitol building and Tower Bridge.
September 22: Robert Mondavi Winery: Autumn Fête, Oakville
Robert Mondavi Winery brings the Provencal tradition of le grand aioli to Napa Valley's Oakville. Honor the harvest with a leisurely outdoor dinner set on long wooden tables, while trying fresh produce and grilled meats alongside garlic sauce and fine wines.
September 22: San Diego Zoo Food, Wine and Brew, San Diego
Enjoy the rare treat of experiencing one of the world’s premier zoos after dark. More than 160 vendors set up shop throughout the San Diego Zoo. Your all-inclusive ticket will get you bites, beer, and some of the finest wines from Southern California.
September 28: Sip ‘n Saunter, San Luis Obispo
September 28–30: Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, Sonoma
A tradition that dates more than 120 years, Valley of the Moon celebrates the hallmarks of the city—wine, art, food, and community—in historic Sonoma Plaza. Guests of all ages can enjoy a weekend full of tasting, dancing, grape stomping, eating, and even running—the Vintage Festival 5K & 12K is held on Sunday.
September 29: San Antonio Winery Harvest Festival, Los Angeles
Celebrate one of California’s oldest urban wineries, which is based in downtown L.A.—a family-owned operation since 1917 that's known for its Stella Rosa Rosso. To finish off Wine Month, the winery’s parking lot will be lined with wine tastings, beer, local foods, live music, and a charity grape stomp.