The Top 5 Things to Do in Wine Country This July


As the days get hotter, we hanker for refreshing sips, indoor escapes and evening saunters. July is a great month in Wine Country to get in some arts and culture while you chill-out and cool down.

Take an exclusive tour of a stunning Wine Country art collection with Kathryn Hall
Kathryn Hall, former ambassador to Austria under two Presidents, is now the ultimate ambassador of Napa Valley food, wine and the arts with this limited series of Art & Wine events at her personal residence high above Rutherford. This intimate tour of world-class contemporary art is seen through the lens of a true collector who lives with, and is inspired daily by, the art surrounding her. Art & Wine includes a visit to Hall Winery’s Austrian brick-laid cave and ends with a sumptuous three-course lunch with wine on the patio overlooking the Napa Valley. July 18, August 15 and September 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; $125 per person, reservations required.

Culture crawls at Festival del Sole
Whether it’s to a cool theatre or a cool jam, there are plenty of diverse live performances to see during the 10-day Festival del Sole in Napa Valley. Check out festival premieres such as the improvisational 24-Hour Plays performed by actors like Chris Noth (of The Good Wife) on Saturday, July 14, or the Dance Gala on July 20 featuring select Bolshoi Ballet dancers performing with the Russian National Orchestra and whiz kid Conrad Tao on the keys. Festival del Sole supports up-and-coming artists, like local Indie group Alma Desnuda, performing their California acoustic soul at Long Meadow Ranch & Farmstead on July 21. Lavish lunches and dinners abound during the festival to sate the soul and the senses. July 13 – 22; Lincoln Theater and other locations in the Napa Valley, prices vary.

Image Courtesy of Gloria Ferrer Caves and Winery

Stroll down Las Ramblas at the Catalan Fest at Gloria Ferrer
What’s more refreshing than a chilled glass of local sparkling wine? Spanish Cava! At the 20th Annual Catalan Festival in Sonoma, the Ferrer family of Freixenet, the single largest producer of traditional sparkling wine in the world, waves the flag with a foot-stomping weekend of traditional Catalan food, dance, classical guitar and sparkling Cava. July 21 – 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; $50 per person in advanced, $55 per person at the door.

Head to the coast for the season’s best Pinot noir tastings
The Sonoma Coast and Russian River produce some of the lightest and most elegant Pinot noir wines in California. Don’t miss these two Sonoma tastings that feature the most exclusive of the lot. At the 8th Annual Pinot Family Reunion at Vintners Inn, more than 40 wineries will be pouring wines served with the tasty bites that John Ash & Co. is famous for. Do not miss Kosta Browne, producer of Wine Spectator’s #1 wine in 2011, since they’re not open to the public and rarely participate in public tastings. July 22, 1 to 4 p.m.; $50 per person in advanced, $60 per person at the door.

A wine event worth planning ahead for, the 2nd Annual West of West Wine Festival comes to us from August 3 – 5 in cool, coastal Occidental. The event is hands-down the best chardonnay and Pinot noir weekend of the year. The three-day love fest begins Friday night with vintners dinners, followed by a full day of seminars, a Grand Tasting and the Whole Hog Feast. As last year’s Grand Tasting event sold out early, sponsor West Sonoma Coast Vintners have generously added a second tasting this year. Do not miss Flowers, Freeman, Freestone, Littorai, Martinelli and Paul Hobbs. Most events take place at 4008 Bohemian Highway, Occidental; prices vary from $125 to $200 per person.

Summer concert season continues
Chill-out as the sun sets and breezes kick-in during wine country’s classic outdoor summer concerts. Settling in at a Robert Mondavi concert is like slipping into an old glove, but the music is as modern as ever with Natasha Bedingfield, Five for Fighting and Josh Groban on the slate for July.  

For a more soulful and nostalgic vibe, don’t miss Al Green at Rodney Strong on July 15.

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