MUCH OF THE PLEASURE... to be found in wine isn't built around the taste or the fragrance or the potency or the hue. Rather, a glass of wine, slowly quaffed, has a way of slowing time down for the quaffee, at least in the sense that nothing too urgent needs to happen in the window the wine is enjoyed. Many an oenophile purposefully makes that window on the large side, the better to draw out the not-rushed feeling, the sit-back-and-talk vibe. Calistoga's yearly December-to-early-February festivity, Winter in the Wineries, is all about the larger window, too, a window constructed for easy, at-your-own-pace vino enjoyment. For rather than offering passport situation begins on one day and expires the next, Winter in the Wineries boasts a passport that's good for several weeks. That means you can drop in on Clos Pegase or Fairwinds Estate for a tasting on one Friday, and then call upon August Briggs or Tank Garage a couple of weeks later, when your schedule and/or fancy allows. That's right, it's an at-your-own-pace kind of thing, much like a drawn-out glass of cabernet.
15 WINERIES... in all are participating, and you only need complete your passport by Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 (or, if not complete, then at least call upon all the wineries you wanted to see). The passport is fifty bucks, and a number of local lodgings and businesses are tied into the savings, so with 10 percent or 20 percent (or more) off a room or spa treatment, depending on a couple of asterisks like length of stay or the day of the week. Is a multi-month passport a solid reason for visiting a pretty part of wine country a few times to stave off the winter ho-hum-ery? That's up to you, but if you're the kind of person who does like to make a glass of wine last for the better part of an evening, you just might get into stretching a winery-winter passport out for a few weeks.