The Wine Country Online

September through December, 2000

    The on-line magazine is an outgrowth of and continuing update to the recently published Sonoma Picnic, a California Wine Country Travel Companion. Scroll on for highlights excerpted and updated from this handy little book!

Iron Horse Vineyards in Fall

The Grapes and Harvest Edition

    Fall can be a wistful time of year. For me the first morning of frost on the garden is loaded with portent and memories. It's a time to take stock of summer's bounty and make plans for winter and spring. It's a great time to be in the Wine Country as we pass from the excitement of harvest to the more contemplative season of winemaking. We look forward to the release of new wines from the vintage of 1998 and 1999 and take time to enjoy some of the best weather of the year. Expect crisp mornings and evenings, a slight chance of showers, and a sublime Mediterranean illumination on the vineyards and golden hills.

Tour Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley searching for Syrah and Petite Sirah

Learn more about these delicious varietals in an article by Eric Cullen

Shore Report

    The windswept autumn gold of the coastal rangelands is reason enough to head over to the coast before the big winter storms start to roll in. Reason enough, but the bonus is generally great weather and a wonderful color to the water with good visibility for diving and poking around the tidepools. (Note: Even though our lovely Pacific may seem calm and placid, never turn your back to her when you're out on the rocks!)

    Check out our friends at the Tides Wharf Fish Shop or call them for current information on locally landed fish.

    The Tides Wharf
    835 Hwy 1
    Bodega Bay

    For up-to-date information on fall ocean fishing or bird- and whale-watching trips, you might give our friends at Bodega Bay Sport Fishing Center a call at 707-875-3344.

    Call the good folks at our local surf shack for up-to-date shore conditions.

Hot links to Local Events:

Select! Sonoma County
Sonoma County Wineries Association
Russian River Wine Road
Consorzio Cal-Italia

Pinot Noir at Iron Horse Vineyards

Starlings gathering . . .
Their clouds of tiny chevrons
Darken the harvest

Grape pickers' chorus
turns the last few green bunches
deep shades of ruby

Weather turns sultry
Days grow short, leaves curl
grapes color, sweetly

Heavy with dark fruit
the fecund earth offers us
nature's alchemy.

Starting with champagne,
chard, merlot and cabernet,
zinfandel still hangs.

Trucks rumble past
Gondolas overflowing
Heading for the press.

Fruit fly paradise
Swarming over the crush pad
first to taste the wine.

"Fall Haiku" by Penelope La Montagne
(Morning Haiku, 5:58 a.m. on
KRCB 91.1 FM)

Anderson Valley in Mendocino County

Fall Events by Month:
Please call the phone numbers listed for details


    From late August to early October, experience the full-tilt excitement of the harvest. Norteño, Mariachi or Tejano music blasts from the boom boxes according to each crew's tastes. The pickers race with lugs of fruit held overhead to the bins where the foreman records the tally. Everyone's on the run. It's the focal point of our year.

    Silver salmon season begins for offshore fishing and on the Russian River.

    Harbor Seal Watch
    At the mouth of the Russian River
    Jenner, 707-875-3422

    Russian River Jazz Festival
    Gurneville, 707-869-9000

    Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival
    Downtown Sonoma, 707-996-2109
    Blessing of the grapes in Sonoma Plaza.

    Women's Weekend #2
    Gurneville, 707-869-9000

Harvest is celebrated with music. Iron Horse garden foreman Jose Puga (second from left) with the Harvest Fiesta band


    Gorgeous colors adorn the hills, roses bloom everywhere and the first frost hits.

    "The Subject is Lunch"
    Geyserville, Oct. 15, 2-5 pm.
    Talk and book signing by chef Jacques Pépin, readings by local Healdsburg writers, and a two-man Chekhov play with Doug Stout and Simon Jeremiah. Intermission hosted by Restaurant Charcuterie. Presented by the Literary Arts Committee of the Healdsburg Arts Council.
    Tickets at Toyon Books and Levin & Co. in Healdsburg.

    Sonoma County Harvest Fair
    Santa Rosa, 707-545-4203

    ARTrails of Sonoma County
    15th annual Open Studio Tour of 130 Sonoma County artists' studios. October 14-15 & October 21-22. Tours free; color catalog on sale all around the county.
    Sonoma County Arts Council: 707-579-ARTS (2787)

    "Dead Hollywood"
    Tuesday, October 31 at Restaurant Santi in beautiful downtown Geyserville
    "Come As They Were" fundraising costume party and dance for the Healdsburg Food Pantry.
    707-433-6495 for tickets and info. And we'll all be looking at you, Kid...

Chilis drying at Preston Vineyards


    Rain and sleep for the vines, olive harvest begins, and everyone joins in thanksgiving for the fruits of the season.

    Steelhead season begins for the Russian River.

    North Bay Veterans Day Parade
    Downtown Petaluma, 707-762-0591
    The real deal   a day for those who answered the call.

Pressing apples at Iron Horse Vineyards


    Olive harvest continues. The vines sleep while the field crews prune away the summer's canes.

    Healdsburg Antique Dealers Open House

    Historic Tree Walk
    Downtown Healdsburg, 707-431-3301

    Christmas at the Sonoma Mission

    Gray whale migration reaches its southbound peak in mid-month

Ready for winter at Preston Vineyards