AN ANNIVERSARY WORTH TOASTING: If you've ever been tasked with organizing a major anniversary party or trip or gathering for your parents or grandparents or some good friends or a school group or class, you know that, above all, you don't break out the pencil and paper and thinking cap the week before. Nope, you're cracking open the guidebooks and roaming web sites the year before, at least, if you're pretty on top of things and want to stay on track as the happening draws near. Such is the way of things in Northern Sonoma County, along the fabled Wine Road, a region that serves as a celebratory collective of dozens of wineries. The Wine Road is toodling towards its 40th anniversary in 2016 -- that's the ruby anniversary, as we're sure you know, being up on your anniversary gemstone traditions -- and the winemakers of the area have already planned a full sip-nice slate of big-deal bashes throughout the year.
"THE ROAD TO RUBY": When nine wineries got together back in 1976 -- well, make that the people who make the wine -- they surely couldn't have seen the big growth that was ahead, nor the fact that over 200 wineries would comprise The Wine Road as of 2015. (And let us also note that a few dozen lodging and hospitality destinations are also part of the group, lending a "come and stay/play" to The Wine Road's libation-centered industry.) It's gotten huge, in short, and the elegant Ruby Affair gala, in May, will reflect the grandness of the group's goals and growth and ability to well-represent the vinos of the region. Other to-dos throughout 2016 include Magical Mystery Tours -- you'll "board a mystery bus" in Healdsburg on June 18 and head out to one of three wineries -- and special winemaker breakfasts in January, March, and November. A cool December raffle, which gathers bottles from many cellars, and more ruby-sparkly soirees are ahead. And, like a parental anniversary, or one for a school group, you don't have to wait on the planning-ahead front: You can start organizing your visit now, before 2016 actually arrives. After all, ruby anniversaries don't come along all the time, and that a few hundred destinations, and thousands of hard-working people, are behind The Wine Road's 40th, makes the whole hullabaloo that much merrier.