Harvest Wine Celebration continues today

Winegrowers association fundraiser offers tastings, food, music

Local wineries are celebrating the 35th annual Harvest Wine Celebration today in the Livermore Valley.

Each participating winery is offering entertainment for wine aficionados and non-drinkers alike, including arts-and-crafts vendors, informational displays and activities, food for sale and music performed by bands and artists from all over the Bay Area.

"Like a fine wine, the Harvest Wine Celebration has evolved over time, but everyone's favorite parts -- great local wine, music, food and arts and craft vendors at the wineries -- have endured," said Chris Chandler, executive director of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, which organizes the event.

"It's the perfect way to kick off California Wine Month in Livermore Valley," Chandler added.

The celebration spotlights the warm nature of the Livermore wine industry, and it is one of the first events to mark the start of the harvest season, according to Chandler.

"We have a long, fun history here. It's authentic and people have made it a tradition to visit their favorite wineries," Chandler said.

The grapes plucked from Livermore Valley vines during the harvest were blessed by local clergy during a centuries-old ceremony, a prelude to the wine celebration, practiced by many religions to honor the vineyards, grapes and the people who make the annual harvest come to fruition.

Area wineries have a range of attractions planned at their venues, in addition to wine tastings.

For example, Wood Family Vineyards will have live music from The Mundaze today. Smokin Hot Meats N Treats has food available for purchase, and vendors include Twisted Family Jewels by Matt, Tie Dye by Esther and Patty with her French Garlic Graters.

Most of the 30 participating wineries are offering discounts, and nearly half have special activities ready for guests to enjoy, organizers said.

Non-drinkers also have other opportunities for fun at stops like Caddis Winery, Charles R Vineyards, Eckert Estate Winery, Rodrigue Molyneaux Estate Winery and Vineyard and Wente Vineyards, which all have educational activities planned.

Each participating winery is hosting guests at their own location; there are no "hubs" as in past years, according to Tamara Kelly, of the winegrowers association.

The festivities run from 12-5 p.m. Monday at participating wineries.

Tickets are $55, and $5 for nNon-drinkers. There is a 10% discount for tickets purchased in groups of 10 or more.

Tickets include three to four wines from each of the participating wineries, a commemorative Livermore Valley Wine Country glass and an official event program.

The wine glass and wristband, which entitles attendees to wine-tastings, are given to each guest 21 and older during check-in at the winery of their choice.

Association officials encourage guests to drink responsibly and select a designated driver or arrange for transportation. There are a number of transportation services available, including town cars and limousines for small groups, taxis for individuals and chartered buses for larger groups.

Ticket sale proceeds benefit the association, a nonprofit organization which supports the wineries and growers in the Livermore Valley American Viticultural Area.

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