By: Shawn Nesaw
If one of your New Year’s goals is to visit Sonoma, then this list of “must do’s” is for you. Call your travel agent, book your flights and mark your calendars for these quintessential Sonoma events.
Barrel Tasting Weekend
March 2-4 and March 9-11, 2018
Over 100 wineries gather around Wine Road in Northern Sonoma County the first two weekends in March for a straight-from-the-barrel tasting experience. Enjoy opportunities to not only taste wines “of the future” but to speak with the winemakers and explore the region.
Attendees can even purchase features of their favorite wines that day before returning 12-18 months later for the bottled product. Some wines are very limited, buying futures is a great way to ensure you have first pick.
“Participating wineries include SIMI Winery, Clos du Bois Winery and Alexander Valley Vineyards, among others. A full list of participants can be found in the above link. Registration information can be found at the above link, with more details added in the coming weeks.
Sonoma International Film Festival
March 21-25, 2018
The 21st annual event returns to Sonoma and promises fun for all ages. International cinemas, documentaries, features and short films aim to inspire the independent filmmaking community while providing academic and cultural enrichment for young students in Sonoma Valley.
Over 90 different films were showcased during the 2017 event and this year’s rendition around the Sonoma Plaza also features food and wine.
Since 2002, the Sonoma International Film Festival has raised over $200,000 for youth education in Sonoma. Volunteers and donations are welcomed and encouraged.
Signature Sonoma Valley
April 6-8, 2018
After featuring three-sold out events in 2017, the inaugural, and highly successful, Signature Sonoma Valley returns in early April. With a diverse community serving as the backdrop, the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance returns as the headlining sponsor.
Celebrate Sonoma Valley’s history, wine, scenery, cuisine and heritage as winemakers and vintners share in this rare wine experience. The three-day package reaches its peak Saturday night with a VIP reception and “Legends” dinner at Don and Nancy Sebastiani’s private residence, a sure treat for those versed in wine history.
Tickets are available as packages or by session, and suggested lodging and transportation are also available.
Passport to Dry Creek Valley
April 28-29, 2018
The 2018 Passport to Dry Creek Valley marks the nationally-acclaimed wine and food festival’s 29th year. With over 40 wineries already committed for the event, including West Wines, Lambert Bridge Winery and Comstock Wines, this two-day event is a can’t-miss for wine lovers.
Tickets go on sale beginning February 1.
Country Summer Music Festival
June 15-17, 2018
Voted the best music festival in Sonoma County, Country Summer returns this summer with star-studded headlining acts including the legendary Toby Keith and Florida Georgia Line. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds set the perfect stage for the heavy-hitting event, which brought in over 30,000 fans last year.
With more artists set to be announced later in the year, you won’t miss out. Ticket packages start at $239.
Toyota/Save Mart 350
June 22-24, 2018
Motorheads of the west enjoy the annual NASCAR event at Sonoma Raceway as star drivers Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano return to the 12-turn road course.
Approaching nearly 50 years of racing, the winner of the venue’s event gets to enjoy a bit of Sonoma flair in Sunoco Victory Lane by sipping from the famed Champion’s Goblet.
Sonoma Valley Crush
Experience harvest up close and personal with this behind-the-scenes event that features crush site tours, meetings with winemakers, grape sampling and learning about the fermentation process. This event is perfect for those looking for an affordable experience, with tickets ranging from $35-$55.
Specific dates in September have yet to be released.
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival
September 28-30, 2018
2017 marked the 120th annual Vintage Festival, making it the longest-running festival in California’s history. Since 1897, community members have gathered and celebrated the cultural arts, gourmet cuisine, fine wine and history of Sonoma Valley.
The festival also features a longstanding tradition of philanthropy, donating up to 100 percent of the proceeds to local community organizations (around $25,000 annually).