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Pinot on the River Festival 2009: October 23-25, Healdsburg, CA

Now is a wonderful, if slightly manic time to be wandering around wine country. Harvest is, for some, complete, and wines are bubbling and burbling their way through fermentations. For others, any day now they will be making mad dashes into the vineyards to get the fruit in before the first major rains. Either way, it's the time of year that wine country really becomes wine country. As the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around this time of year we are treated to the opportunity to attend The Pinot on The River Festival , one of the more placid and enjoyable wine events held all year.

Now in its sixth year of providing an intimate and casual way to enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs from Sonoma pinot.festival.logo.jpgcounty and around the state, this festival is a great way to spend a weekend or even just a Sunday afternoon.

Held at Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, the festival begins with a dinner on Friday, October 23rd, and continues for three days of seminars, field trips, and tastings during the day, followed by wine dinners at night. It concludes on Sunday with the walk-around Grand Tasting, where for four hours you can sample a wide variety of small production Pinot Noirs and chat with the winemakers and winery owners in a relaxed setting.

If you're interested in the wines that are poured at the event, here's the list of wineries scheduled to attend.

Pinot on The River Festival 2009
Friday Oct. 23th - Sunday Oct. 25th
Rodney Strong Vineyards
11455 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Tickets for the dinners and seminars can be purchased on an a-la-carte basis here. Tickets to the Sunday tasting are $69 and should be bought at this site.

The last couple of years the weather has been absolutely beautiful for the tasting, which meant walking around in shirtsleeves, but it has the potential to be chilly, so if you're going, make sure to bring something to keep you warm if the fog sets in. Dress for the event is casual, and my usual tips for public tastings apply: wear dark clothes, come with a full stomach, drink lots of water, and spit if you really want to enjoy the tasting.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud