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Venture off the hill for a change of taste

Janice JonesFood & Wine

As we approach the end of another great year, it is time to plan some wine country trips for January, which is generally a very quiet and relaxing time to check out some old favorite wineries and to discover some new ones. If staying on the hill during snowy January is in your plans, almost all the wine shops have special tastings scheduled for this month. The Pour House in Truckee, Earthly Delights at Northstar, Time For Wine in Tahoe City and Florians Fine Wines and Food have some interesting wines to sample this month.

If youd like to get away for a holiday, Napa Valley has some interesting events scheduled that you may want to take part in. On Jan. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m., Back Room Wines in Napa will hold its fifth annual sparkling wines tasting, where for $15 you can try six sparkling wines. Call (707) 226-1378 for more information. On Jan. 6 at Wineries of Napa Valley, located at 1285 Napa Town Center, from 4 to 6 p.m. for $10 you can sample new releases from five boutique Napa family wineries, and enjoy some tasty appetizers. Call (707) 253-9450. On Jan. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, there will be an artisan wine, food and art festival, with pairings of boutique wines and specialty foods, while some top Bay Area artists will be showing and selling their work. Call (888) 51C-OPIA for information. Also, on Jan. 20 and again on Jan. 27, at St. Supry Winery gardens in Rutherford, you can learn about rose pruning and grapevine pruning techniques while sampling appetizers prepared by winery chef Ron Barber and sipping St. Suprys estate wines. The events start at 11 a.m. for $30 per person, and the winery is located at 8440 St. Helena Highway. For more information, call (800) 942-0809. Jan. 27 Copia will be hosting quality wines and foods from Mexico from noon to 3 p.m. for $25. Beringer Vineyards will be hosting historic tours of their property daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for $20. On this tour you will be able to explore many of the winerys historic buildings, including the wine-aging tunnels and the gravity-flow winery. The tour ends with samples of four wines. This event is for those 21 or older. The winery is located at 2000 Main St, St. Helena, and can be reached at (707) 963-8989, ext. 2222. Beringer also conducts daily tours to introduce participants to the history of this 128-year-old winery; included is a voucher to sample three wines in their Old Winery Tasting Room. Those under 21 are free when accompanying an adult.

In Sonoma this month, at Stonestreet Vineyards and Winery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be tastings of wines that are produced in small lots and only available at the winery. Call (707) 473-3333.Each day of the month, by appointment only, Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, located at 389 Fourth St. in Sonoma, will offer wine and artisan cheese pairings. Call (800) 888-5532 ext. 3203 for reservations and pricing.On the first weekend of each month in the Alexander Valley, different wineries will host different fun-filled wine tastings with different themes, all for free. These events are held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. Call (888) 289-4637 to find out whats happening this month. Another ongoing event is held on the second Saturday of each month at different Russian River Wine Road wineries. Check out their Web site at http://www.wineroad.com. Byington Vineyard & Winery, located at 21850 Bear Creek Road in Los Gatos, will host live cave music in the winerys cave. This event starts at 2 p.m and costs $40. To find out more, call (707) 224-4222. Then on Jan. 20, wineries in the region will host their winter wine passport event, featuring many area wineries which are generally not open to the public. This event will run from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (831) 685-8463. Then on the following day, the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association will host its annual Wine & Crab Taste-off. You can help choose the best by testing two of the four restaurants in the competition. The cost is $45 for the two samplings, and $15 for any additional restaurant, all accompanied by wine, of course. This event will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Call (831) 685-8463. A little further south in the Monterey region, from Jan. 13 through 27, the Monterey-area wineries will participate in the ninth annual Wine & Food Festival. There will be wine makers dinners, and special wine tastings held at various locations and various times. Call (831) 775-4721.Visiting any of the wine regions in our state provides an opportunity to find new wineries, meet people passionate about the grape, and to see up close and personal how your favorite style of wine is made.Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at sierrafinewines@yahoo.com.


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