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Something for Everyone at the New Wine Country Winter Fest


Something for Everyone at the New Wine Country Winter Fest

By Janet Ciel, festival producer

This December, a brand new event comes to life in Sonoma County. The Wine Country Winter Festival on December 3rd and 4th will be held at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. Produced by the creator of the Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival, it promises to be unique among Bay Area holiday shows. Combining excellent quality arts, foods, entertainment and libations, and lots of seasonal magic, this is an event to warm the hearts of those who love this time of year, and also to win over those in a “bah humbug” state of mind. 

Grace Pavilion will be filled with beautiful art and fine craft. The quality of the arts rivals San Francisco and other Bay Area festivals. Well juried, this show guarantees no imports or mass manufactured goods. There will be plenty of gifts and goodies, glass, wearables, wall art, sculpture, food product, wood, and jewelry. It is so much better to buy from the artists that make the work, rather than shopping at the mall.

The Hall of Flowers will be home to an expansive Wine/Microbrew/Spirits and Ciders Tasting. Over fifty companies will pour during the weekend. The cost of the Tasting is $25 for a commemorative wine or beer glass and 6 tastes (a taste is 1/3 of a glass). Festival attendees can also enjoy just a glass of beer or wine at the By-the-Glass Wine/Beer Booth in Grace Pavilion. 

The Bottled Sales Market is in the Hall of Flowers as well. Not only can people enjoy great libations at the festival, they can buy product to take home with them; another great gift-buying aspect of the show.

Outside in Shade Park, behind Grace Pavilion, is where all the food will be located. The menu is varied and perfect for this time of year. Gourmet Hofbrau-style sandwiches and Christmas tamales and other Mexican yummies from Big Boys BBQ, Fresh cracked crab, crab cakes and chowders from Anello’s, Bourbon Street Kitchen will offer up BBQ ribs, Louisiana Gumbo and Fried Chicken and Waffles, The Wurst’s sausages and burgers, Indian from Raj, Greek from Spiro’s, Thai from Thaitime, and lots of sweet treats will excite all palates. 

Three stages of entertainment will fill the halls with music and laughter. The Main Stage, inside Grace Pavilion, will have a big dance floor, and great music for dancing and rocking out all weekend, including David Luning, Frobeck, Lost Dog Found, Gator Nation and more. The Wine Stage, adjacent to the Tasting in the Hall of Flowers, features more folk, country and world music, such as the Bootleg Honeys, Dgiin, the Easy Leaves and others. And the Showcase Building, aka “Holiday Hall”, will house the Entertainment Stage, where jugglers and comedians Owen Baker Flynn, Mark & Dre, and Karen Quest, with her unusual Cowgirl Tricks will have the whole family in stitches. 

“Holiday Hall” will also be home to Santa and his elves, our magical face-painting team, and craft workshops throughout the weekend. There will be sing-along caroling, a Gingerbread House Competition, Kid’s Baking and Cookie Decorating, and other holiday-inspired surprises are in the works.

A portion of the festival proceeds benefits the Sonoma County Fair Foundation. This new building at the Fairgrounds is the legacy of Saralee Kunde: an agricultural mentor in this county. The nearly 12,000 square foot facility will serve as the cornerstone for year-round agricultural education. 

The hours are 10-6 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday. Tickets are $12/advance and $15 at the gate. Discounts for seniors over 60, military, teens 12-18. 12 and under are free. For more information go to, or call 707 824-8717.