SUMMER INTO FALL: We may all be doing our best to get out to a sandy spot -- preferably a sandy spot that's adjacent to a major body of water, say, like an ocean -- and enjoy summertime, but our state's wineries are already looking to the busy harvest season. Autumn is the top top for our grape growers and makers of delicious libations, and the planning for fall to-dos starts when the rest of us are slathering on our SPF creams and doing some light beach reading. And what what comes at the end of harvest? A few big parties, for sure, thrown by individual wineries and wine regions as a whole. One of the most prestigious of all the late autumn wine to-dos doesn't even happen in a wine-growing valley, though we'll argue it is just about the most famous valley in California (and maybe the world). Yep, we speak of Yosemite Valley, which means we're talking about none other than the famous Vintners' Holidays at the Ahwahnee Lodge. It opens on Monday, Nov. 11 for its two-days-at-a-time run.
THE SIPPING SCHEDULE IS LIVE: The six-session meet-the-vintner party is about a number of different things, but tasting really exquisite wines and talking about them with the people who made them is at the top of the syllabus. Winemakers set to show in the fall of 2013 include Bob Linquist of Qupe, George Bursick of Villa Toscano, and David Duncan of Twomey Cellars. If you do have a favorite vineyard, you'll want to make sure you pick the weekend it is represented, since the schedule will rotate speakers and wines.
GETTING OUT INTO WINE COUNTRY: If you have some extra time on either end of your session, there are several wine countries close at hand, and nearly just out of Yosemite National Park, too. The Madera Wine Trail is a short drive away, and the Amador County and Placerville winemakers are a pleasant short-ish road trip to the north. Figure all wineries'll be winding down a little, from harvest, around November and December, making it a fine time to call upon a tasting room or two.