Sonoma County Pairing: Giant Pumpkins & Fine Wines

Admire the mega gourds at the Kunde Family Estate in Kenwood.

VINES AND VINES: There are vines, as in Red Vines, as in the snacky licorice you snack up on in the theater, ahead of a blockbuster. There are Vines, as in short, very short, videos, many of which deal with a dogs chasing their tails or kittens playing the piano. There are vines, as in grapevines, as in channels for sharing and spreading gossip and the dish. And then there are vines, as in nature, and they very often grow things we rather like a lot, like pumpkins and grapes for making wine. But pumpkin vines and grape vines are very rarely neighbors, and they'd never appear in the same snug plot, lest the larger, seedier orbs crush the smaller, juicier orbs in spectacular, grape-ending fashion. The two round fruits of varying bigness and tinyness do appear together, though, sometimes, especially when a fall festival is held at a winery. Nope, the pumpkins seen during the day aren't grown among the wine-making grapes, but they are brought in by revelers, people who hope to score the crown for most colossal pumpkin. So where can one get their vine time on? Why Kunde Family Estate, in Sonoma County, is just such the viney spot.

OCT. 11 AND 12: That's the weekend of the big weigh-off, but it isn't just about the plumpest pumpkins. Face painting and pumpkin decorating are around for the kiddo set, and food trucks for all, and, yep, wine tasting for the grown-ups. Call it the harvest fall festival spirit imbuing an elegant winery, a twosome that should truly meet up more. The weigh-off itself, note, is on Saturday, Oct. 11, but the convivialities will go on all weekend at the Kenwood-based estate.

MORE WEIGHING OFF... And if you happen to be in Half Moon Bay on Monday, Oct. 13, that's where and when the thousand-pounders -- make that thousand-pounder-plus -- hit the pumpkin scales during the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. 'Tis the week for humongous squashery and autumn delights, truly.

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