10 California Summer Wine Events
Summer is a wine-drinking marathon in California, and up and down the coast, each weekend brings pleasant opportunities to imbibe outside. The diversity of events reflects the state's varied wine-growing regions. Those on hotel grounds come with a room night package -- a smart way to go.
Paso Robles Wine Festival Paso Robles Wine Festival
Because it's a relatively slow time at wineries, winemakers tend to have some downtime before harvest to get out and pour their wares. And that's half the fun, meeting the folks behind the wine labels. Seminars and panels add an educational element, but the best way to learn more about wine is to try more. Here are 10 upcoming events, from Paso Robles to Newport Beach to downtown L.A.'s Union Station, at which to do just that. These are organized by date, with the events that are upcoming -- starting this weekend with No. 10 -- listed first. Turn the page.
10. Paso Robles Wine Country Festival, May 18-20, Paso Robles: The 30th annual festival has it all: A reserve and wine futures auction, a reserve tasting Friday afternoon (tickets must be purchased in advance) and the massive tasting on Saturday, which promises 60 wineries and food trucks in a downtown park (tickets available in advance or at the door). On Sunday, the entire wine region hosts an open house and those wineries typically open by appointment only throw open their caves.
Paso Robles Wine Festival Harmony Cellars' Chuck Mulligan and festgoers
9. Santa Lucia Highlands Gala, May 19: Off the beaten track, overlooking the well-tended Salinas Valley, the sixth Santa Lucia Highlands Gala is the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association's only public event of the year. Held at the Mer Soleil Vineyard, which will be pouring its Silver Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel and concrete tanks, this is a rare chance to sample limited releases from more than 30 wineries, including Belle Gos, Bernardus, Poppy and Mer Soleil.
Santa Lucia Highlands Vintners Santa Lucia Highlands Gala
8. Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Solvang, Crawfish Boil (May 19) and Red, White & Blues (June 30): On the grounds of this Santa Ynez Valley winery and working farm in Solvang, pair Louisiana crawfish with Buttonwood's Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah rosé at a crawfish boil. In late June, in partnership with Longoria Wines, there's a blues band for entertainment at the 16th annual Red, White & Blues afternoon. Bring a picnic, as both Longoria and Buttonwood will offer wines. A pastoral bonus: Dancing under the cottonwoods.
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard Crawfish boil paired with wine
7. Newport Beach Wine Festival, Newport Beach, May 25-27: The setting is picture perfect for this weekendlong wine and food extravaganza overlooking Newport Harbor on the grounds of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort. Seven events range from a five-course wine dinner on Friday night to Sunday afternoon barbecue. Cheese, sushi and more than 200 wines will be found at the Memorial Day weekend Saturday afternoon grand tasting ($125 per person).
Newport Beach Wine Festival Newport Harbor as backdrop