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Harvest festivals: A celebration of life

The grape harvest is the culmination of a year’s work and historically has been recognized with festivals and celebrations.

The Vendimia Festival, in Jerez, Spain starts with the Queen of Sherry Parade and includes bullfighting and flamenco dancing.

Bordeaux celebrates with the Medoc Marathon, with 8,000 costumed runners jogging through the vineyards, stopping only long enough to consume oysters, steak, cheese and wine.



The medieval village of St Emilion in Bordeaux has celebrated the Jurade de St Emilion since 1199 when winemakers open their cellar doors to mark the start of harvest.

Italy’s Festa dell’Uva in Tuscany celebrates Chianti in true Italian style.




Worldwide, harvest festivals feature food, wine, music, fun, and, a day off from work in the vineyards. It should be no different in Nevada County. Even if you don’t work in the fields, time spent celebrating with friends, wine, food, and music is time well spent.

• Smith Vineyards, Saturday, October 2, 1-5 p.m. http://www.smithvineyards.com.

Live music with Ragged But Right, food, wine tasting, and the hands-on chance to participate in winery activities like punch downs. Advance tickets sales only, $20. Wine Club members $15.

• Nevada City Winery, Basketful Of Gold Harvest Party, Saturday-Sunday, October 16 and 17, 12-5 p.m. http://www.ncwinery.com.

Watch crush from the deck during this weekend of wine tasting including current Gold Medal winning wines, barrel samples, older Library wines, gourmet finger food, and live music with Inner Outlook. $5 tasting fee.

• Lucchesi Vineyards & Winery, Harvest Party, Saturday, October 16, 8-5 p.m. http://www.lucchesivineyards.com.

Watch harvest, including crushing or pressing grapes with wine tasting and educational tours.

• Lucchesi, Harvest Picnic, Saturday, October 30, 11-4 p.m.

Bring a picnic lunch, listen to music, enjoy wine and celebrate the end of harvest.

• Montoliva Vineyard & Winery, Invitation To Pick Grapes http://www.monoliva.com.

Interested in a hands-on experience? Be part of their picking crew. Winemaker Mark Henry explained, “We send out an e-mail about a week before harvest letting potential volunteers know the date.” It’s usually a Sunday, starting very early, but with a break for a champagne brunch and the Sunday New York Times.

• Montoliva Harvest Party, Saturday, October 16, 2-4 p.m.

Participate in crushing, pressing, and punch downs plus special wine tasting and food treats.

• Double Oak Vineyards & Winery, Harvest Open House, Saturday, November 13, 1-5 p.m. http://www.doubleoakwinery.com.

Celebrate harvest with tours, wine tasting, including reserve wines and barrel samples, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, fine arts and crafts with the artists, and live music. A $5 tasting charge includes the wine glass.

Please remember, this is a very strange year. Perhaps Jacques Mercier of Solune Winegrowers expressed it best, “harvest is mega-late this year making it difficult to schedule harvest related events, since for such events, you actually want to have something going on, crush, fermentation, pressing, something.” If the weather holds, expect harvest, and more events, to last into November.

Finally, the smell of fermentation is starting to fill the air. The bounty of harvest is all around us. Get out there and celebrate!

Rod Byers is a certified wine educator and wine writer, teaches wine classes at Sierra College, and is a California State Certified Wine Judge. Go to http://www.pinehillwineworks.com to see the Kaleidoscope wine classes offered locally this fall, or by phone at (530) 913-3703.


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