The drought notwithstanding, September traditionally is deemed California Wine Month. It's a time to check out what a grape harvest is all about, taste some new wines you've never had or discover a wine country you've never visited.
Here are five events that would make for a great weekend getaway from Southern California.
Lompoc Wine Ghetto: You heard right, Lompoc, to the north of that other Santa Barbara wine country, features about 20 tasting rooms in a walkable area. Look for organic Pinor Noir and Rhone varietals at Ampelos Cellars and handcrafted Pinots and sparkling wines at Flying Goat Cellars. Harvest in the Ghetto from Sept. 26 to 27 will feature open houses at the vineyards, barrel tastings, a grape stomp and Farm-to-Ghetto food trucks. Barrel tastings for $40 include flights at two wineries; weekend pass to more events costs $160.
Sonoma Valley Crush: At this festival, you can sample grapes right off the vine, take a crush pad tour and taste wine before its time (while it's still fermenting). This crush fest Sept. 25 to 27 takes visitors behind the scenes to learn what happens during harvest time. Thirteen wineries will participate, including Deerfield Ranch Winery, Loxton Cellars and Paradise Ridge Winery. Tickets cost $10 to $35.
Trefethen Harvest Boot Camp: Work out at this boot camp Sept. 26 that aims to introduce you to what harvesting is all about. Trefethen Family Vineyards in Napa organizes this experience for you to learn what it's like to be part of the harvest crew. After working in the vineyard, kick back for an outdoor picnic lunch. It costs $125 per person; e-mail email@example.com or call (800) 556-4847.
Temecula Valley Crush: More than 30 wineries will be pouring Saturday at the crush event in the wine area east of San Diego. If you go the VIP route, you can be among 100 or so guests who get to schmooze with local winemakers like Steve Andrews of Oak Mountain Winery and Julie Holme of Ponte Family Estate Winery. VIP tickets cost $110; general admission, $85.
Sip Savor Lodi: The little town of Lodi is best known for its Zinfandels and being the home of famed winemaker Robert Mondavi. The Sept. 25 to 27 wine festival features cellar tours of more than a dozen local vineyards, including Acquiesce, the only white wine maker in the city. Barrel tastings as well as food pairings are planned. Visitors pay $20 to $25 for individual tours.