QUIETER TIMES: Think about every photograph you've seen of wine country ever. We're talking the travel brochure stuff, the postcards, the snapshots that appear on tote bags. Vines are likely pictures a lot of the time, yes? And the leaves on the vines tend to be golden, or red, or maybe, just possibly, a bright green. This is all to say that vineyards tend to reign supreme in our minds in the autumn, when harvest time arrives, and the summer, when everything is fecund and luscious and wine growers prepare for the impending Plucking of the Grapes. But winter? Yeah, frost and snow on vines aren't big visual draws, or at least you almost never see such images in places that promote wine country travel. But a sleeping vineyard is a beautiful thing, truly, though wine smarties would rightly argue that a vine never truly sleeps. Still, winter is a time for respite, for taking a moment, for a lack of rush-rush on our state's various wine trails. Big weekend events are fewer, too, with a few exceptions. And a particularly large-ish one? It's Sonoma County's Winter WINEland, which falls plunk in the middle of January. Well, plunk-adjacent: It happens on Saturday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 19.
SALES AND SIPS: "This is a weekend to save!" says a wine country rep, and we do like when an exclamation point follows the word "save." The swath of region participating includes the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Dry Creek, and "every winery will have something with a special event price for the weekend." Not just wine'll be on the sale shelf, but winery goods, foods, and giftie type stuff. Shop ahead for the next holiday season, maybe? Only if you have a place to hide the wine you buy and not "accidentally" open it in April or May. Whoopsies? A ticket for both days, at the door, is sixty bucks, but you can shave several dollars off that if you buy in advance. Hooray, winter at the wineries! Now that the exclamation points are out in full force, we wanted to jump on that bandwagon, too.