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Travel Tip: Off Season in Wine Country

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Believe it or not, wine country doesn’t shut down once the grapes are grown and harvested.  In fact, the off season is exactly when wine regions around the country gear up with some offbeat experiences.

In Sonoma County, of course there are grape stomps and wine-blending classes during its peak harvest season. But in February, when things have quieted down, they actually host a pruning contest–consider it like the opposite of grape harvest.  And in March, more than 100 Sonoma wineries come together for a barrel tasting weekend, where you can sample wines straight from the barrel before anyone else.

On Long Island’s North Fork, springtime is the season for wine camp. This is a real boot camp for wine-lovers, with two sessions spread over four days that include hands-on classes wine tastings, farm-to-table dining, and your own case of wine to bring home.

You should also look for something called passport weekends in spring, where you pay a fee to get access to special events and offers at wineries.

In early April, it’s passport weekend at the Columbia River Gorge region of Washington and Oregon, and the wine-growing region of Woodinville, Washington, hosts its passport weekend in mid April.

For more offbeat food and wine experiences, visit our Culinary Travel section.

And check out the rest of our Daily Travel Tips here.

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