THE MEMORABLE SIGHTS... of a weekend in wine country are very often of the delicate type. Think of the perfect grape, hanging from its vine, or a golden oak leave, lit by the sun, or a beautiful, thin-of-rim wine glass, the kind that makes the perfect "thwink" when tapped by a fingernail. But it isn't all fabulously fragile fanciness, though; the tools of making wine, and tending to fields and vines, are on the robust side. Stainless steel vats and de-stemmers and crushers are common components of a winery, and tractors lend power to the vineyard process. You can see the important relationship between the tractor and the growing of grapes at a number wine country happenings, like annual tractor pulls and shows and fairs.
WINE COUNTRY WHIMSY: But few tractor-centered to-dos are as widely beloved as the colorful and quirky Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade, which is celebrating its 20th year in 2015. Dozens of tractors and other farm implements, of all shapes, sizes, and makes, will purr down Lincoln Avenue, in downtown Calistoga, on Saturday, Dec. 5, and they'll be covered in lights and ornaments and the cheerful baubles of the season. Will the driver be rocking a Santa hat? It's likely. Will there be much waving? Absolutely. Will the parade pay homage to both the yuletide and Calistoga's mondo agricultural cred? It will do double duty on that front, yes.
IS IT FREE TO WATCH? So free, but be sure to arrive on the early-ish side, to stake some curb between Cedar and Stevenson (the lark unfolds, as mentioned, on Lincoln). Restaurants'll keep busy, and shops, too, and if you're worried you won't spy some construction equipment in the mix, and perhaps a float or two, worry not: The tractors share the road. This two-decade-along tradition, let us note, is not alone in its particular brand of seasonal big-vehicle sweetness; decorated 18-wheelers'll roll through Eureka, in Humboldt County, on Saturday, Dec. 12.