Napa Valley

When you think of vineyards and wineries, you probably think of Napa Valley. Visiting vineyards in this world-renowned wine destination, which is located northeast of San Francisco, is like attending a constant celebration. There's always something going on at one of the hundreds of wineries, vineyards and estates in the area.

One notable festival, which combines two fabulous things - films and wine - is the Napa Valley Film Festival, held every year for five days in mid-November. The events take place in the scenic towns of Calistoga, Yountville, St. Helena and Napa. Buy passes or individual tickets and take your pick from more than 100 wines and 100 film screenings in 12 different locations. You can attend Q & A sessions with directors, actors and producers. Attend a festival kick-off party, taste local foods and wines in a special pavilion and head to the Awards Ceremony at Napa’s swanky Uptown Theater. Keep your eyes open for celebrities!


Sonoma Valley

The second most famous U.S. wine region just happens to be located northwest of Napa. There are two festivals to check out in Sonoma County. The first is the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, which kicks off the fall season during the first weekend in September. You might see some high-profile people at this event to benefit charity. It features three days of food and events, including an elegant dinner and wine tasting at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in the tiny town of Geyserville. There are also winemaker lunches and dinners at several swanky vineyards in the area, including Muscardini Cellars in Kenwood, Arista Vineyards in Healdsburg, Linked Vineyards in Santa Rosa and the Keller Estate in Petaluma. The event is capped off with an auction for charity.

For a more homey experience, check out the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. It features three days of tastings from more than 150 wineries, a hilarious and fun World Championship Grape Stomp that you can enter with a partner, demonstrations and educational seminars, and a focus on all local and artisanal products. Admission is free at this fabulous adult event in Santa Rosa, though tastings and other events require tickets.


Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country is becoming the newest recognized wine destination. Head to Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest, held in late October, for a taste of Texas wines and hospitality. Nearly 30 local wineries and over 40 local food specialty shops will be in attendance. Listen to live music, take part in the Great Grape Toss and take classes from experts at the Grape Expectations Cooking School.

Don’t miss trying Nature Nate’s Honey and paying homage to the area’s German heritage with a sample from German Roasted Nuts. The event is located in Marktplatz, or the Market Square - the center of local life in Fredericksburg, which is about an hour and a half drive west of Austin and an hour north of San Antonio.


Southern Oregon Wine Region

Oregon’s wine country is a well-kept secret. Check out the World of Wine Festival in mid-August each year. This festival is highly educational, offering a series of sessions for the expert and the wine beginner including how to pair wine with your meals and which wine glasses work for each variety. The four-day event culminates in a grand tasting, in which awards are given to the best Southern California wines, a silent auction and live music.

The World of Wine Festival features nearly 50 local winemakers and vineyards, including Grizzly Peak Winery, Henry Estate Winery, Agate Ridge Vineyards and Slagle Creek Vineyard. The festival is held in historic Jacksonville, about a 3-hour drive south from Eugene and not far from the border with Northern California..


Finger Lakes Region

New York’s placid Finger Lakes Region is home to some of the best US wine festivals, period! Head to the Finger Lakes Cork & Fork Festival, held every year during one weekend in September in historic Seneca Falls, New York. This food and wine combination festival hosts several pairing events, in which a local chef will partner with a local winemaker for a cooking demonstration and wine pairing. There’s also an after dinner dance, live entertainment and seminars on several topics related to local food, gardening and canning. Some of the notable names are Black Bear Winery, Arbor Hill and Heron Hill Winery. Don’t miss out on sweet treat samples from Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream, Lucienne’s Chocolate and Cayuga Lake Creamery.