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Great Ways to Experience California Wine Country in Summer 2017: Winery Concerts, Festivals, Picnics and More


photo of California wine grapes

Summer in California is great for surfing, hiking and visiting theme parks with the family, but wine lovers know it’s also the perfect time to visit the dozens of distinct wine regions across the Golden State. Throughout the summer, wineries host concerts, festivals and experiences that range from scenic picnics and pool parties to unique pairing experiences and movie nights.

To help wine-focused travelers plan their summers, California’s Wine Institute has compiled dozens of a list winery experiences that’s a starting point for exploring activities and events around the state.

1) Winery Concerts

Free Summer Concert Series at Halter Ranch Vineyard, Paso Robles (June-Aug.) Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles kicks off its first-annual complimentary Summer Concert Series, where guests can pair award-winning wines with an impressive range of local music and vineyard views. The concert lineup includes Rewined (June 16), Kenny Taylor Band (July 14), Bear Market Riot (August 25) and more.

Robert Mondavi Winery Concert Series, Napa Valley (July)
Robert Mondavi Winery’s annual Summer Concert Series benefit the Napa Valley Unified School District Music Program. Artists include Andrew McMahon (July 1), Patti LaBelle (July 8), Michael Franti & Spearhead (July 22) and more.

Summer Sundays at Edna Valley Vineyard (July-Aug.)
Enjoy live music at the newly renovated Edna Valley Vineyard tasting room and deck with views of Islay Peak. Lineup includes: Bear Market Riot, Black Market Trio, Dan Curcio and more. Food and wine are available for purchase. Bring a blanket or low-back lawn chair.

Rodney Strong Vineyard’s Annual Summer Concert Series, Healdsburg (July-Sept.) Every summer, fans of this series look forward to intimate performances by headliners in a stunning vineyard setting. Attendees can bring a picnic meal or purchase food from local purveyors and listen to Chris Isaak, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti and Kool & The Gang.

Vina Robles Concert Series, Paso Robles (Ongoing)
This boutique amphitheater offers a variety of outdoor concerts this summer, from Dustin Lynch (June 15) and Trevor Noah (June 24) to REO Speedwagon, Styx & Don Felder (June 25), Michael MacDonald & Boz Scaggs (Aug. 16), Doobie Brothers (Aug. 22) and Idina Menzel (Aug. 27) and Chicago (Sept. 2).

Wente Vineyards Concert Series, Livermore (July – Sept.)
For more than 30 years, The Concerts at Wente Vineyards have showcased world-renowned entertainers in the winery’s picturesque natural amphitheater. Guests enjoy pre-concert sunset dinners outdoors or in The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. This year’s headliners range from Alanis Morissette and Diana Krall to Seal, Smokey Robinson, Dwight Yoakam and Collective Soul.

2) Wine Events, Festivals and Passports

Wine Showcase Day, Madera Wine Trail (July 1 & Aug. 5)
Wine lovers can go off the beaten path on Madera’s Showcase days, which take place July 1 and August 5 from 12 to 4 p.m. Each day features a different wine varietal and special tasting.

14th Annual California Wine Festival, Santa Barbara County (July 13-15) Enjoy wine, food and a seaside setting at this festival, touted as one of the largest and best outdoor wine festivals in the state, featuring hundreds of wines complemented by dozens of top regional chefs and specialty food purveyors.

Mammoth Food & Wine Experience, Mammoth Lakes (July 14-15)
The event offers tastings from more than 20 wineries, food, beer and dessert tasting from local establishments, a wine walk, auctions and more—and it all takes place in Mammoth Lakes, the gateway to Yosemite. For more information, visit www.mammothfoodandwine.org.

2nd Annual Blind Barrel Event, El Dorado (July 15)
Put on your suspenders, bow ties, hats, flapper dresses, pearl necklaces, and dancing shoes and step into the Roaring Twenties for El Dorado Winery Association’s 2nd annual Blind Barrel event, which features food trucks, a live swing band and fine wine.

Santa Cruz Mountains Passport Celebration Day (July 15)
“Passport” holders can choose among 50+ wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, each offering a unique winery experience and various specials, such as discounts on wine purchases, live music, food and other extras.

Taste Our Terroir, Livermore Valley (July 20-23)
Livermore Valley’s premier food and wine affair returns for four days to educate visitors about its unique “taste of the land.” Livermore Valley wineries will offer 13 different events, including the popular food and wine pairing competition, a progressive dinner, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and vineyard tours.

Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival, Salinas (Aug. 12)
Stroll charming Oldtown Salinas while tasting the bounty of Monterey County, from its wines and craft brews to culinary delights straight from “The Salad Bowl of the World,” paired with live music.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sonoma County (Sept. 1-3)
Guests can sample wares from wineries across the county's 17 diverse wine regions, engage in conversation with Sonoma County's winemakers and winegrowers, and nibble locally sourced food from the county's premier chefs.

3) Winery Experiences

Tours

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen (Year-round)
Eco-conscious wine enthusiasts can take a behind-the-scenes look at Benziger’s Biodynamic estate vineyard and wine caves, finishing with an exclusive tasting of estate wines. The educational tram tour, pulled by tractors, lets visitors enjoy the scenery – shown in the Keanu Reeves film “A Walk in the Clouds” – filled with long-haired Scottish Highland cattle.

Korbel Winery Bubbles & Bags Event (June 24); Garden Tour, (Now-Oct. 11) Guerneville Compete in Korbel’s 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament paired with BBQ and DJ music on June 24. Take an in-depth tour of Korbel’s historic California champagne cellars and the elaborate rose garden now through Oct. 11 – ending with a tasting. Enjoy lunch at the Korbel Delicatessen and Market with patio seating amid the redwoods.

Trefethen Re-opening & 50th Anniversary, Napa (Year-round)
The historic Trefethen winery has re-opened after a 6.0 Earthquake in 2014. Enjoy a Classic or Reserve tasting or a vineyard/winery tour to learn about the architecture and recent restoration of the winery and guided walk through a teaching vineyard.

 

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