It's in the air: the early morning sound of tractors, the busy rural roads at odd hours, the smell of fresh-picked grapes. It's not only a valley-wide phenomenon, but county-wide, even Northern California and beyond. It's "crush" in Wine Country.
As if on cue, Sonoma's Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival is this weekend, giving Sonomans their traditional party in the Plaza (as if Sonomans need a tradition for that).
But it's not the only party in the neighborhood. In keeping with Sonoma Patch's announced change to a wider geographical region this week, we're duty-bound, and happy, to remind you of the Heart of Sonoma Valley's 2012 Sonoma Valley Crush, coming up this weekend.
The difference? The HOSVA event lets you "experience harvest, hands-on" with activities ranging from tastings off the vine, sugar content analysis, talks with production teams, self-bottling and, of course, wine-tasting.
The event is both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 16 participating wineries, most in the "upper valley" region from Glen Ellen to Kenwood.
Several of the wineries have special insider production tours (ever punched down a pinot?) and lunch with the winemaker, priced separately.
A few wineries in the Glen Ellen area are included, such as Valley of the Moon, Little Vineyards and Imagery, as well as those in the Kenwood area - Loxton, Ledson, Landmark, Enkidu and Mayo too, and many more. A map of the wineries is with this article as a PDF.
To be sure, the VOM Vintage Festival does feature a Grape Stomp with registered teams, and everyone loves the Fireman's Water-fight, but the Heart of Sonoma Valley Crush could introduce you to your next favorite winery.
Tickets are $35, available online, and give you access to harvest activities and tasting rooms along with the usual wristband, wine glass and event program. Pre-registration for your "check-in" winery is required.
Designated drivers get a discount, just $10, and even if they can't taste the wine, they can still taste the grapes.