Crush: See You in Wine Country this October!

By Emily Shartin, Epicuring

It may have been delayed a couple weeks this year, but this year’s grape harvest (“crush” as it’s known locally) is now in full swing. Having just moved to Napa from the east coast, I’m enjoying my first up-close-and-personal look at this bustling season — the beautiful rows of leafy green vines, the workers in the vineyards, the trucks full of fruit on the roads, and the pervasive aroma of fresh grapes.

As you can imagine, this is a great time to visit the Napa and Sonoma Valleys and see for yourself how the place comes alive. You can also check out some unique events at local wineries, some of which only happen at this time of year. I hope to see you there!

Events in Napa County

Schweiger Vineyards Old-Fashioned Harvest Stomp
You pick it, you stomp it! You’re invited to day of Brix testing, grape picking and stomping followed by a catered lunch. The Schweiger lug box is yours to keep. Stomps begin at 10 am the first two Thursdays in October. The cost is $125 for members, $150 for guests. Reservations are required. For more information, email 4015 Spring Mountain Rd., St. Helena, 877-963-4882.

Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Robert Mondavi
Taste treats from St. Helena’s Woodhouse Chocolate alongside both red and white wines from Robert Mondavi. Learn about different forms of chocolate throughout history, from the unique drink of Montezuma to Switzerland’s renowned milk chocolate blends. Tastings are held at 3 pm Saturdays, and the cost is $50. Reservations are required. Hwy 29, 1 mile north of Oakville, 888-766-6328.

Gourmet Napa Walking Tour
Explore revitalized downtown Napa with fellow foodies on these walking tours held Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. We’ll share the fascinating history of this beautiful riverfront town where celebrity chefs intermingle with organic farmers and boutique winemakers. Tours begin at 11 am at the Oxbow Market, 644 First Street. The cost is $68. Reservations are required. 415-312-1119.

Tasting Like A Pro at the Culinary Institute of America
Visit the CIA’s Greystone campus in the heart of California wine country to improve your wine tasting abilities. The school offers several two-hour classes designed to raise your wine IQ. Most classes are held Saturdays and cost $95. For more information or to register, click here. 2555 Main Street, St. Helena, 707-967-2320.

Events in Sonoma County

Harvest Crush Camps at Crushpad
Working a harvest “crush” is incredibly exciting, educational and extremely dirty. Make no mistake: winemaking is anything but glamorous. However, if you don’t mind purple fingers, wine-splashed clothing and truly want to learn how top quality wines are produced, this experience will remove the veil to winemaking Oz. You’ll work alongside cellar hands and winemakers on wines currently in production. Learn by doing as you sort, de-stem and crush grapes, punch down fermentation bins, see wines being pressed and participate in the sensory analysis of different grape varietals. Crush Camps begin at 10 am and are held throughout October. The cost is $50. Reservations are required. 389 Fourth Street East, Sonoma, 707-637-8821.

Lambert Bridge Winery Berry Sorting Tour and Tasting
Visit the winery for a guided tour and tasting showcasing the winemaking process, from field to fermentation tank. You’ll have the opportunity to taste fresh grapes during sorting, and sample freshly-pressed juice. Tours are available on select days during the harvest and are part of the winery’s regular tastings. Please call 707-431-9600 ext. 210 to confirm times and make reservations. 4085 West Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg.

Ravenswood Wine Blending Seminar
Wine novices and seasoned wine drinkers alike are invited to learn the art of winemaking. Create your own blend of Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Carignane, then take your masterpiece home in a 375-ml bottle to impress your friends and family. Seminars are held at 11 am Fridays and Saturdays. The cost is $50. Reservations are required by calling 707-933-2349. 18701 Gehricke Road, Sonoma.

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