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Once a year, vineyards across the United States harvest their grapes and some celebrate the occasion.
From August to October, many wine-producing regions across the U.S. celebrate the bounty of the season by hosting harvest festivals with traditional fall activities such as grape stomping, decorating pumpkins and riding on horse-drawn wagons atop bales of hay. Here’s where to enjoy fall wine harvest festivals around the country.
Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend — Paso Robles, California
Home to more than 200 wineries, Paso Robles, California, is a prolific and walkable wine city about 330 kilometers southeast of San Francisco that grows 40 types of wine grapes. Each October, the Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend showcases its local flavor with activities such as grape stomping, wine and food pairings, casual barbecues and winemaker dinners. The festival is so large that it has its own free iPhone app to help visitors keep track of the activities.
Explore Central California’s wines during peak harvest season in Paso Robles.
Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival — Amherst, Virginia
“Eat. Drink. Stink.” is the fitting motto of the Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival, which celebrates these two aromatic specialties in Amherst, Virginia, 265 kilometers southwest of Washington, D.C. Virginia is actually the fifth largest producer of wine in the USA. Pair local chardonnay and sweet white wines from 10 nearby winemakers with garlicky dishes such as cheddar bacon garlic burgers and garlic popcorn from 150 specialty food vendors. Watch locals compete to be crowned that year’s Garlic Queen, a quirky talent show for garlic-related skills such as singing an ode to garlic while wearing a garlic costume. Along with tastings, check out live music, a magician and a children's section featuring a petting zoo.
Wine and garlic are a weird combination that works at the Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival.
Hunt Country Harvest Festival — Branchport, New York
Drink and learn about wine at the Hunt Country Harvest Festival in Branchport, New York, situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes region about 475 kilometers northwest of New York City, New York. Along with fall activities such as stomping grapes, riding hay wagons and decorating pumpkins, the festival features educational workshops and winery tours to learn about sustainable winemaking practices using solar and geothermal power.
Harvest Wine Festival — Las Cruces, New Mexico
Harvest comes early to the Southwest, with three days of festivities in early September at the Harvest Wine Festival in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Enjoy unlimited samplings of local wines with a complimentary commemorative glass, along with live music from blues, rock, funk and world beat artists.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair — Santa Rosa, California
Sample from roughly 100 local wineries in one of California’s well-known wine-producing regions, Sonoma County, at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa, California, north of San Francisco, California). Attendees can take a wine-tasting seminar, shop local arts and crafts, watch chef demonstrations and purchase bottles to bring home. Stop by the World Championship Grape Stomp to watch competitors from as far away as India and Australia compete as two-person teams for a cash prize.
Prepare to see contestants get messy with grapes at the World Championship Grape Stomp.
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