While wine tasting in the US may appear to be a spring-summer-fall adventure, true wine lovers know that winter is actually the best season. Winemakers and vintners can relax during this slower season when the vines are dormant, and the wines are maturing in barrels. This is impossible to achieve during harvest. Winter wine festivals are held in the cooler months. The pace is slower and the accommodation costs less. Parking in wine tasting areas can also be easier. Insiders use this method to visit wine country and taste wines. You can now enjoy wine festivals in the winter.

Please be aware of the fact that COVID-19’s new rules and guidelines may have an impact on the following events. Before making any travel arrangements, check each website.

Winter Wine Country Festivals and Events

With age, I’ve become more selective about the events I attend, the parties I go to, and what I do. No more do I tolerate long lines or crowds. I want to be my own VIP every day, so attending wine events in cooler weather is perfect for me. I’ve got a coat, a hat and gloves to match. This is a partial listing of winter events in different wine regions.

At one of many winter wine festivals, the author drinks a glass of red wine while overlooking the wine country. Photo by Barbara Barrielle

Western US Winter Wine Country Festivals

Western US is the first place that comes to mind when people think about wine country in North America. California and Oregon have wine festivals in the winter to celebrate their wines.

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Winter Wineland And Barrel Tasting Weekends, Sonoma County

Due to the pandemic of wine tasting, it has become a more organized event, with reservations. Some may find it inconvenient but I’ve found that it has led to some amazing experiences and educational benefits.

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Wine Road promotes wineries from three sub-appellations, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley. Visitors can experience the latest releases in a relaxed atmosphere at this event, which takes place late January. The number of wineries that a guest may visit each day is still limited. This is good for both wineries and guests.

Enjoy the Sonoma Wine Road in the off-season. Photo by Susan Lanier Graham

Barrel Tasting Weekends are held the first and second weekends in March. You can try wines before they’re bottled at great discounts, or even buy them.

Winter White Wine Weekend, Anderson Valley

Contrary to popular belief, White Wine Weekend is not just for Chardonnay lovers. This event is centered around aromatic varieties that are popular in the Anderson Valley. The valley runs from Boonville to Mendocino County’s coast. You’ll find Gewurztraminer here, as well as Reisling and Pinot Blanc. This festival is a great opportunity to discover the delicious aromas of these food-friendly wine.

Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley is home to grape vines that winter. Denice Breaux, via iStock. Getty Images

Oregon and Sonoma Film Festivals

Sometimes, the festival isn’t all about the wine. The wine can be a supporting actor. This is the case with the McMinnville film festival in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

McMinnville’s film festival focuses on short films. Throughout the festival, there are wine tastings and other events at local wineries.

View of Mount Hood, snow-capped, from above the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Photo by Leslie Brienza, iStock via Getty Images

Sonoma International Film Festival, in Sonoma CA is even bigger. It features feature and short movies over this three-day event of film watching, wine tasting and food. This Sonoma Festival is so popular that it has events all year round to support restaurants, filmmaking, and wine.

Blendfest on the Coast, Cambria and Cayucos CA

Blendfest at the Coast “blends”, two of my favorites: the California Central Coast, and blended wines. Paso Robles, the region’s wine region, is famous for Bordeaux and Rhone varieties. Paso Robles is known for its wineries that blend wines in an old-world style.

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The Paso Blend is the result of these experiments. It allows winemakers to create uniqueness through the blending of traditional and nontraditional varieties, resulting in some of the finest wines of the region. Adelaida Winery’s 2320 is a blend which changes each harvest, but represents the finest lots at this high altitude winery located 2320 feet above sea-level.

Views from Adelaida Winery at high altitude. Barbara Barrielle’s photo

Other US Winter Wine Country Festivals

The West coast of the United States does not have all the best wine. Now, there are excellent wine options in nearly every state. You can also find fun wine festivals across the US in the winter. Here are some of my favorite festivals.

Taos Winter Wine Fest, Taos, NM

My daughter was living in Albuquerque when I first discovered how good New Mexico wine is and how many wineries produce wines. The Taos Winter Wine Fest attracts wine lovers as well as skiers. There are many local and national wines available, including Gruet sparkling wines, which were rated as the best value bubbles in the US.

Gruet 2014 Cuvee Danielle Grand Rose, and Gruet Gilbert Gruet Grand Reserve were tasted at a Santa Fe tasting. Photo by Susan Lanier Graham

Tastings and dinners are held in the picturesque Village of Taos Ski Valley.

New York Ice Wine And Culinary Festival

In the overlooked Finger Lakes, the New York Ice Wine and Culinary Festival celebrates the rare headiness and ice wine. Enjoy the wines that are made when the grapes freeze. This one-day event celebrates the intensely aromatic wines that are only made in a few areas of the US and Canada. They’re often infused with ice-wine.

South Beach Wine And Food Festival, Miami Beach, FL

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival offers a “flight from winter” with its food and wine. SBWFF, sponsored by The Food Network and Cooking Channel is more than wine. Over five days, there are a variety of events for all tastes. Chef-led dinners and wine tastings as well as star-studded demonstrations by chefs.

Miami hosts the South Beach Wine & Food Festival every February. Photo by Susan Lanier Graham

Both collectible and common wines are available. Looking for great food experiences? Enjoy elevated culinary experiences alongside street food. This event is held annually and attracts thousands of people. It supports the Chaplin School of Hospitality.

Canadian Winter Wine Country Festivals

Canada’s wine industry is growing in popularity. These are my favourite winter wine festivals in Canada, whether you go to Niagara or Vancouver.

Niagara Ice Wine Festival, Ontario, Canada

The Niagara Ice Wine Festival is for ice wine fans as well, but it requires crossing the border to Canada. Canada’s harsh seasons have forced cider and wine makers to become more creative. They’ve done so. You can find ice wines made from white varieties that are different than those found in the US or Europe. You can also sample ice and fire ciders, which are only found in cold climates.

Photo by JHVEPhoto via iStock by Getty Images. Photo by JHVEPhoto, via iStock. Getty Images

Vancouver International Wine Festival, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is the ideal opportunity to visit British Columbia and taste the amazing wines of the Okanagan Valley. The Vancouver International Wine Festival offers a wide range of wines from all over the world, including some local favorites.

Vancouver Festival is usually held in mid-May to avoid the worst of the winter weather. The festival is known for its amazing and creative cuisine created with the abundance of Canada.

Winter Wine Country Festivals

Winter wine festivals are a great way to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and sample some of the best wines. Some festivals offer wine tasting weekends, while others pair the best of North America with food. I hope you have as much fun discovering these wines as I do. Wander has a lot of great ideas for wineries that you may discover, as well as our favorite wines.