Foxen Canyon: Christmas on the Trail

Toot about wine country and find some sparkling, season-perfect sips.

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DESCRIBING A PRETTY WINE COUNTRY VISTA... in December might inspire the describer to say things like "bare branches" and "the occasional golden leaf" and "crisp sunsets" and such. For while it is still autumn, at least for much of the month, the busyness of a wine country fall, at least in terms of harvest and crush time, is now in the rear-view mirror. Leaf-free vines and colder temperatures reign, giving the vineyards a quieter "winter is ahead" feel. But wait: It turns out there are more bustling moments to come, and they're focused on a particularly festive happening: the holidays. This is the moment when wineries put up their over-sized door wreaths, and break out the luscious ports and sparkling wines and deeper reds, and ask carol-playing string trios to sit in on the weekends. If this extra-December-y feel is just to your liking, and the final weeks of the year are the ultimate weeks to be in wine country (in your excellent opinion), best hop to Foxen Canyon Wine Trail over the second weekend of December for...

CHRISTMAS ON THE TRAIL: The two-dayer (Dec. 10 and 11 in 2016) connects a host of Santa Maria-, Los Alamos-adjacent wineries for a convivial to-do. Fess Parker Winery, Zaca Mesa Winery, and several other regional favorites will offer "small bites" along the 30-mile route, as well as other holiday-ready details (hello, cookies) and the all-important commemorative glass. It's a passport-type weekend, so if you want to try all 20 single-ounce pours (from a total of 13 destinations), best look into hopping onto a shuttle while savoring the celebration. Or find your designated driver, someone who also loves the sights/smells/wintery wonder of wine country when fall is saying its final adieu.

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