For many, autumn is synonymous with fall colors. If you are a wine aficionado, golden yellow, crimson and purple might be amongst your favorites. There’s no need to blush: Many sophisticated travelers have a crush on wine country. Beginning in mid-September, vintners throughout the country harvest the local grapes and transform them into your favorite wines. The experience is nothing short of magical.
So Much Wine, So Little Time
Pursuing any crush requires a strategy, and the autumn wine crush is no exception. The most spectacular wine country events take place in Washington, Oregon and California. At first glance, these destinations may all seem doable in one trip, but warning—destinations on a map are further apart than they seem! Wine is about leisure and relaxation, so the “it’s noon, it must be Napa” strategy defeats the purpose. In fact, trying too many types of wine in one day or even within one trip is like trying too many scents at the perfume counter. It confuses the senses. Plan to take it slow and enjoy one destination to its fullest.
Deciding Where to Go
Every fall harvest has its own set of events, in addition to wine tasting. Some offer concerts, brunches, lunches and special spa days, while others offer unique wine experiences. When planning a wine country trip, you will get more bang for your vacation buck if you choose destinations that are close to other points of interest.
Quincy Balloon and Wine Festival in Quincy Washington, opens their event with a balloon launch at sunrise. Photography buffs will want to see this. Entertainment includes an Elvis Presley tribute concert.
The September Crush Festival in Leavenworth, Washington is worth a visit, if only to see the town. Leavenworth once boasted a thriving economy, until the town closed the local sawmill. The Great Northern Railway Company added insult to injury by abandoning Leavenworth as a station stop. The town was destined to become a typical ghost town, until the 1960s, when someone came up with a wacky yet brilliant idea. They rebuilt the town to simulate a Bavarian Village, making a trip to Leavenworth akin to a cheap trip to the Austrian Alps. The Leavenworth Crush features grape stomping and live jazz.
The Willamette Valley Wine Festival kicks off with a half-marathon, and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville hosts the wine expo and dinner. These two factors alone make the Oregon festival worth a visit, let alone the fact that Oregon does not charge sales tax. A stop in Portland lets you visit Powell’s Books, otherwise known as fantasyland for readers. Just down the street from Powell’s, Penzey’s sells fresh spices in bulk, in case you want a bit of spice with your wine.
More than 150 artists and 20 wineries participate in the Capitola Art & Wine Festival, located in Capitola, a small coastal town on the Monterey Bay. Other events include dance performances and non-stop live music. In the Sonoma Valley, the Wine Country Big Q combines a fall crush celebration with a barbecue competition. Also in the Sonoma Valley, the Sonoma Valley Crush Festival features special dinners, grape picking and winemaking workshops.
Look over your options, make a choice and book your vacation rental. Fall is just around the corner!