MERRY MACHINERY: While fancy wheels are often pictured in wine advertisements, the people who make wine aren't driving convertible, low-to-the-ground sports cars out among the vines. It's tractors all the way, and trucks, and ATVs, and other large-wheeled, track-tough vehicles, vehicles that can get the growers through the mud and the muck. That doesn't mean wine isn't the glamorous sip it is said to be; it, of course, is quite chic, but peek behind the chic and you find some serious machinery helping transport winemakers. These vehicles receive their delightful, holiday-ready due each year in wine country, when the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade rolls through the heart of the wine-making, mud-burbling town. Year number nineteen is coming up, meaning this mirthful and photo-snappable parade is now drawing locals and many out-of-towners, too, people eager to see a rumble-y twist on the classic Christmas parade.
SATURDAY, DEC. 6: The tractors and trucks and construction equipment don the bulbs and bows on the first Saturday of the last month of the year, and then make for Calistoga's Lincoln Avenue. A few vintage vehicles make a cameo, in addition to modern wheels, but all have some sort of yuletide-cute adornment (from many lights to drivers dressed for the occasion). And does Santa show up? Of course. You just know Kris Kringle has some sort of ski-laden ATV up at the North Pole, the better to get from workshop building to workshop building on an especially snowy night.
THE VILLAGE... is doing it up over that weekend -- Dec. 6 and 7 -- with carolers and cookie decorating and an art market and more. Wait, scratch that -- it isn't merely cookie decorating going down at the Bella Baker but tractor cookie decorating. Say no more. We're fully and happily sold, so hand us the icing squeezie thingamabob, please.