California Restaurant Month in January Kicks Off the Season of Lower Hotel Rates, Fewer Visitors and Fun Events/Tours

Great Winter Wine Escapes in California Wine Country

SAN FRANCISCO — Many wine lovers know that winter can be a surprisingly good time to visit California wine country. Visitors can take advantage of lower hotel rates of up to 20-30 percent savings, great events/tours and a better chance at meeting winemakers at favorite wineries. They can also still enjoy the California sun in the state’s dozens of wine regions. And visitors who come in January can enjoy great savings and specials at leading eateries throughout the state during California Restaurant Month.

For more information on California’s wine regions, wineries and wines, go to For more information on California Restaurant Month, visit


If you’re short on time, make a California wines road trip in one stop at a winter wine festival. Or take advantage of winter discount passport programs, where you can visit wineries within a short distance of each other—some of which are not ordinarily open to the public.


Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend
Travel between 40 Lodi Wine Country wineries Feb. 7-8 for a weekend of wine and chocolate delights. Each winery hosts activities including barrel tastings, blending classes, live entertainment and more! Be the lucky one to unwrap the “Golden Ticket” and win a Wine Country Getaway or one of over 100 other prizes. Admission includes commemorative wine glass, chocolate and entrance to participating wineries all weekend long.

Madera Wine Trail’s February Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Madera County
This Valentine’s Day weekend take your sweetheart on a wine and chocolate journey to the Madera Wine Trail’s Wine and Chocolate Weekend, Feb. 14-15, in Madera County—one of California’s gateways to Yosemite National Park. Sample a wide variety of local wines, paired with gourmet chocolate treats, live music, local art and delicious cuisine.


Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, Mendocino County
Mendocino offers a variety of fun and delicious wine and crab events during the Crab, Wine and Beer Festival Jan. 16-25, with savings at participating hotels. Highlights include the 16th Annual Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition, where you can taste wonderful local wines with delicious crab Jan. 24, and vote for your favorite chef and winery. Or roll up Highway 101 for the annual Barrel Tasting 101 Jan. 24-25, where you can taste soon-to-be-released wines straight from the barrel, and delectable crab-inspired food pairings at wineries such as BARRA of Mendocino, McNab Ridge Winery, Nelson Family Vineyards, RIVINO, Saracina, and Seebass Vineyards. The Crab Feed at Goldeneye Winery takes place Jan. 17, featuring a special feast of local Dungeness crab prepared by Chef Shannon Hughes, paired with special wines carefully curated by Winemaker Michael Fay and Assistant Winemaker Michael Accurso. If you prefer that someone else do the driving, travel in style on the Skunk Train’s “Crab & Wine Express” Jan. 17 and Jan. 24. As your train snakes deep into the heart of Mendocino County, traveling along the forest floor, you will be treated to local Mendocino County wines and a delicious Crab Louie Salad at Camp Mendocino.

23rd Annual Winter WINEland, Northern Sonoma County
Check out dozens of wineries in Northern Sonoma County’s “Wine Road,” spanning the beautiful Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, at WINEland Jan. 17-18. Participating wineries will offer great tastings, tours and special sales.

Calistoga’s 6th Annual Winter in the Wineries Passport, Napa Valley
Now through Feb. 8, take a relaxed tour of this northern Napa Valley town with a Calistoga
Winter in Wineries Passport
. Taste wine and meet winemakers at 14 wineries. For $50 ($260 value) wine lovers can enjoy one tasting per winery per passport, and get discounts at several restaurants, lodging properties and downtown shops. Participating wineries include: Castello di Amorosa, Chateau Montelena, Laura Michael Wines/Zahtila Vineyards and Twomey Cellars.

37th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, Northern Sonoma County
Choose from up to 130 wineries the weekends of March 6-8 and March 13-15 during Northern Sonoma County’s 37th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. Pack a picnic lunch and head over to participating wineries in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, where you can taste and talk to winemakers about current and future samples.


Passport Days, Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries
Throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, guests are welcomed into 50-plus wineries, each offering artisan wines, gourmet food and entertainment on Passport Day. Take a vineyard tour, meet winemakers and sample exclusive vintages Jan. 17, 2015.

2015 Zinfandel Experience, San Francisco
Savor wines Jan. 29-31 at the Zinfandel Experience, billed as the largest single varietal tasting of its kind. The event gives wine lovers the chance to taste from over 100 wineries at various events—such as winemakers dinners and VIP tastings—and chat with wine producers at the historic Presidio overlooking San Francisco Bay.

2015 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting, San Francisco
This Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, meet fellow wine lovers at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting. Now in its 14th year, the event features the largest competition of American wines in the world, offering tastings from 5,500 entries appraised by top professional wine judges. Since California produces 90 percent of America’s wine, Golden State wineries will have a huge showing.

Livermore Valley’s 7th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend
Taste wines right out of the barrel, meet winemakers and more March 21-22. Each winery will host a unique experience during barrel tasting weekend including at least one barrel sample for each ticket holder. This is your chance to pre-purchase wines before they have even bottled (aka “futures”)! Thirty-five participating wineries.


4th Annual Winter Wine Classic, Santa Barbara County
California’s winemaking masters will gather Jan. 24 for the 4th Annual Winter Wine Classic in Santa Barbara County. Wine lovers can enjoy fine vintage wines,delicious gourmet foods and lively music while chatting with the state’s leading wine experts.

10th Annual Wine Fantasy in February, Santa Barbara County
Fans of Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley will enjoy this lively four-day passport weekend Feb. 13-16. Participants can visit 16 tasting rooms to taste reserve, estate and library wines and rub elbows with winemakers and winery owners.

Paso Robles BlendFest, San Luis Obispo County
The first annual Paso BlendFest takes place Feb. 21 in the seaside towns of Cambria and San Simeon—the latter of which is home to the world-famous Hearst Castle. Guests who stay at a hotel in these two cities will get discounted tickets to the event and a Paso Wine bottle holder—and enjoy already low winter overnight rates. Nearly 30 Paso Robles wineries—each featuring two distinct blends—will offer an afternoon and sunset tasting, paired with appetizers from local Eateries and live music, overlooking the ocean at the Best Western Cavalier Lodge in San Simeon.

World of Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
Fans of Pinot Noir won’t want to miss the World of Pinot Noir March 6-7. The event brings Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional regions of California and the U.S.—including Santa Barbara—together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education.

Vintage Paso, San Luis Obispo County
Zinfandel lovers can find out why Wine Enthusiast named Paso Robles its 2013 Wine Region of the Year at Vintage Paso March 20-22. Create your own zinful itinerary to smell, sip and savor the heritage of Paso Robles with events at more than 120 wineries, from wine and chocolate pairings and winemaker dinners to vineyard tours, laid-back barbecues, barrel tastings and more.


34th Annual Wine Classic, Los Angeles County
Meet vintners from over 45 California wineries Jan. 25, where guests can taste up to 150 wines paired with delectable bites. Enter a silent auction for specialty wines, wine country packages and products with proceeds benefiting Loyola Marymount University student scholarships. World of Wine Barrel Tasting, Temecula Valley Wineries of the Temecula Valley—located about 90 minutes from San Diego, Palm Springs and Los Angeles—open their cellar doors March 7-8 for guests to enjoy a bevy of wines at this annual two-day event, hosted by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers
Association. Guests can enjoy a self-guided wine country tour that takes them to wineries offering a diverse variety of wines from the barrel, tank and bottle, paired with scrumptious bites. Save $10 on tickets purchased by Feb. 6.


Behind the Cellar Door, Amador County
Hitting the slopes in South Lake Tahoe this March? Check out the Sierra Foothills wine region of Amador during the Behind the Cellar Door weekend March 7-8. Wine lovers can enjoy distinctive wine and food pairings, a variety of musical talent and educational seminars and demonstrations by local winemakers.


Check out dozens of fabulous individual winter winery events, from wine blending and salt and wine pairings to winter barrel tasting parties and sustainable wine tours/tastings here. A great way to experience wine country is to let someone else do the driving/guiding and give insider tips. Many regions offer wine tours such as:

Breakaway Tours of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties Taste in style with the Paso Robles In‐Depth Winter Wine Experience Tour, which includes a vineyard walk and progressive wine tasting with a vintner/grower and certified sommelier, and a catered lunch in a beautifully restored barn. Since California boasts the largest Sustainable Winegrowing Program in the world, many green wine fans would love the Sustainable Side of Wine Tasting Tours of Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara wine regions, including door-to-door service and in-depth experiences at three sustainable or organic wineries/vineyards. Participating wineries/vineyards teach guests about sustainable practices ranging from solar farms and water reclamation to creek enhancement, followed by a delicious sustainable lunch with wines.


Wine lovers looking for a truly immersive experience this winter can check out a variety of hotel packages, including stays at a winery/vineyard or a wine country property offering wine activities:

SummerWood Inn, Paso Robles
Paso Robles fans will love the Discover SummerWood package, starting at $300. Save 10 percent on the starting rate on Sunday through Thursday stays, with rooms overlooking their vineyards and gardens, in January and February. Get a complimentary bottle of wine, a seasonally inspired breakfast, wine and appetizers, evening dessert and a wine tasting experience at the adjacent SummerWood Winery. Mention California Wine Institute upon booking.

Zenaida Cellars, Paso Robles
Join Zenaida Cellars in Paso Robles for a weekend in the vineyards enjoying one of two lodging options at the property. Starting at $250 a night, stay in the Cellarmaster’s Studio or starting at $350 a night in the Winemaker’s Loft. Package includes a luxurious accommodation and VIP tour and tasting by winemaker and owner, Eric Ogorsolka.

Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse and Navarro Winery, Mendocino County
Folks heading up to the Crab, Wine and Beer Festival the weekend of Jan. 23-24 can stay at Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse starting at $179 a night. Guests get festival goodies and Navarro wine, as well as full gourmet breakfast with crab—all delivered to their room. On Jan. 24, Navarro Winery will be pouring their exceptional wines paired with crab hors d’oeuvres.

Hilton Garden Inn and V. Sattui, Napa Valley
Check out some upcoming events at V. Sattui, such as their Annual Barrel Tasting party on Jan. 24, and receive a 20 percent discount for an overnight stay at Hilton Garden Inn. To get the deal, bookings must be made through the winery’s website.

Auberge on the Vineyard, Sonoma County
Take “The Grape Escape” winter package, which starts at $439 through March 31 and enjoy two nights’ accommodations in a vineyard view room, French-inspired breakfast, wine passport and escorted winery tour of Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys with stops at wineries such as Stryker Sonoma Winery & Vineyards, Alexander Valley Vineyards and Kokomo Wines. Book online and enter promo code: SCTWeekday/SCTWeekend.

Fern Grove Cottages, Sonoma County
Through Feb. 28 book a stay within 48 hours of check-in and get 25 percent off of a two-night stay (Sunday through Thursday only). Offer includes extended continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi and a wine tasting passport for two for 25 of the Russian River’s finest wineries.

Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza, Sonoma County
Book the Healdsburg Fine Wine & Foodie Walking Tour Package with the hotel, located on the historic plaza, and get a 25 percent discount off the tour. Features a one night’s stay, signature Four Sisters Inns breakfast, complimentary local wine and hors d’oeuvres and a local expert-led wine and food walk: new Flavors of Healdsburg (discounted rates from $66.75 per person), which includes stops at local wineries such as Cartograph Wines.

EDITORS: For photos visit

# # #