Winemakers, Fall Breezes, and El Capitan

People who know their grapes gab it up at the Ahwahnee.

LIBATIONS IN THE LODGE: California offers many pleasures that could easily be set to a lilting piano solo, then projected in slo-mo. Otters playing in the foamy waves of Monterey Bay (humorous piano solo). Snow falling atop Mount Shasta (deep piano solo). And sitting inside The Ahwahnee, staring out at the golden trees and evergreens dotting the grounds of the Yosemite National Park landmark hotel (autumnal piano solo). Many a fan of the hotel feels that autumnal piano solo of the soul call to them each fall, and it doesn't hurt a bit if they love to drink excellent wine and get to know the people who make it. For fall is the time when the Vintners' Holidays Sessions set up swanky shop at The Ahwahnee. What are the sessions? Yes, for sure, they're about people drinking and learning about wine, but there's a social spirit to the three-day gatherings, a wish to learn from the people behind the labels, and some straight-up fine dining, too.

NOV. 4-6... is the first of seven 2014 sessions, and the professionals who make grapes do that singing thing will be chatting and pouring with fans (look for people from Simi, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Wild Horse Winery, and Hartford Family Winery). "Executive Chef Percy Whatley and The Ahwahnee Culinary Team" is behind a "five-course gala dinner" that is served during each session. And wine tastings and seminars? They set the pulse of the event. There are seven different sessions in all, stretching through early December, with smarties like sommelier and writer Ellen Landis at the helm. To find your favorite vineyard or wine wiz, or to score a seat alongside the winery you want to get better acquainted with, scroll. And to spend a couple of nights at The Ahwahnee, the better to be near all of that wine action? There are ways.

AUTUMNAL CALL: Just make time, between tastings and talks, to wander the valley and soak in El Capitan and Glacier Point and the handful of glorious trees that do change color. Nope, you won't be accompanied by an autumnal piano solo, unless it is the one on your MP3 player (or the one inside your head).

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