Now is the time, wine friends. The Bay Area's best wine events take place throughout summer and into early fall to welcome the harvest. These five are particularly attendable.
One features spectacular cool, refreshing weather. Another allows you to discover wine minutes from home. It doesn't get better than that.
1. Wine Fest!
This inaugural Monterey wine event features 100 wines, 10 craft beers, and six food trucks. It's the brainchild of Monterey Beer Festival founder Jeff Moses, who wanted to create a wine festival for the average wine drinker, who isn't an expert when it comes to varietals, styles, or brands. Cheers to that! Festivities take place from noon to 5 p.m. July 27, Monterey County Fair & Event Center, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. Tickets start at $40. www.winefestmonterey.com.
2. Urban Wine Experience
Hard to believe it's been eight years since the East Bay Vintners Alliance started this summer event encompassing the wineries of the their urban wine trail. This year, 18 wineries in Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville will pour their wines and partner with a local restaurant to offer a perfect food pairing for their local wines. Did we mention the sunshine, free entertainment and proximity to downtown Oakland? 1 to 5 p.m. Jack London Pavilion, 98 Broadway, Oakland. $45. www.eastbayvintners.com.
3. Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival
More than 45 wineries and craft breweries will help cleanse your palate as you feast on octopus souvlaki, key lime calamari, and other mouthwatering dishes made with local seafood. There's a reason this festival has been going on for 19 years. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 24 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug 25, Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Highway, Bodega. $12. www.winecountryfestivals.com.
4. Savor the Central Coast
Yes, it's worth the drive. San Luis Obispo is easily one of the most spectacular wine regions in California and this four-day extravaganza organized by Sunset magazine is a veritable backstage pass to some of the area's most magnificent wine experiences. Sip rare vintages while strolling Hearst Castle's majestic gardens. Enjoy dinner on the sands of Pismo Beach. Or relish in the spectacle of thousands of wines to sample at the grand tasting event on Sunday. Sept. 26 to 29 at various locations throughout the county. $85-$150.
5. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Three days, 200 wineries and chefs -- and one incredible weekend of dinner parties, tastings and barbecues galore. The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is broken down into three events: Sonoma Starlight, a poolside dinner at the legendary Francis Ford Coppola winery; Taste of Sonoma, the grand tasting at MacMurray Ranch, and Sunday's Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at various locations throughout the county. Prices vary. www.sonomawinecountryweekend.com.