On Sale: Sonoma Valley Crush

Autumn's on the grape-scented wind and wineries are ready to party.

CRUSH ON THE RUSH: If you were to track the sort of words that start popping up online, and in various print publications, around the very end of July and start of August, what terms might you see peak during that period? "Pencils" and "backpacks" and "lunchboxes" most likely, and "tuition" and "university" and "dorm life," too. "Humidity" gets some play, and "El Niño," too, at least around the weather pages. As for travel sections? You're going to "autumn" and "foliage" start popping up as well as the word that very much accompanies both ideas, "crush," as in harvest and wine time and the busy doings of a vineyard come August and September. Wineries tend to be beyond bustling come the eighth and ninth months of the year, but they don't shut their doors to visitors, or not always, at least. Some vine-growers open the gates wide and even invite fans to join in the crush spirit, either by helping in the the wine-making process or at least enjoying the flavor and fun of what is essentially wine country's annual Big Time, capital B, capital T. The Heart of Sonoma Valley gets into the swing with its yearly CRUSH, which will be stomping- and sipping- and sightseeing-up the end of September throughout Northern Sonoma Valley. CRUSH doings will encompass...

THIRTEEN WINERIES: And each will bring its own special flavor and vibe to the three-day happening. Those three days are Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27, and grape sampling -- often taking place right in the vineyard -- and crush pad tours are on the to-do menu. "Guests will even taste a wine while it's fermenting!" vow organizers. You'll see "hands-on" a lot with this particular event, because the wineries aren't looking for people to simply come and try wine (though, trust, that's part of the party). Knowing how the wine gets from vine to glass is an essential part of the CRUSH experience. If you'll want to espouse more this holiday season about how the wine you're gifting was made, spend a day or two in late September learning, on the ground, in a lively and passionate way. Tickets here.

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