Barrel Tastings Weekends
March 3-5, March 10-12
Wine Road–Northern Sonoma County welcomes you to its annual Barrel Tastings for an opportunity to sample wines, talk to winemakers and explore the beautiful Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys in early spring. Many wineries offer “futures” on their barrel samples, giving you a chance to purchase wine on-site, often at a discount, then come back to the winery when the wine is bottled, typically 12 to 18 months later. Many wines are so limited that buying futures is your only chance to purchase them. More than 100 wineries are participating. Pack a picnic basket before you hit the road, as most wineries will not offer food during this wine-focused event. wineroad.com.

California Artisan Cheese Festival
March 24-26
Three days of cheese tasting, education and celebration—what more could a cheese lover ask for? The California Artisan Cheese Festival brings together cheesemakers, farmers, educators, authors, chefs, brewers and winemakers from all over the state. New this year are educational sessions and tastings with Friday tours; a Friday night Ultimate Best Bite featuring local cheesemongers, chefs and cheesemakers; a Saturday night Cheese and Cocktail Party; and two high-end Cheesemaker Dinners. “We are very proud of California’s artisan cheesemaking community which has grown exponentially over the last 11 years… and we love offering fun, delicious and interactive ways for attendees to experience the food they love,” said Festival Founder/President Tom Birdsall. artisancheesefestival.com

Occidental Fools Day Parade
April 1
The Occidental Fools Parade will be held on April Fool’s Day this spring—and that’s no joke. Organized by the Occidental Center for the Arts (OCA), the parade begins at 1 p.m. at the Occidental Community Center and ends at OCA, which is hosting an open house with live performances and activities for children. As the parade of fools winds its way through town, the all-volunteer Hubbub Club, dressed in their signature red band “uniforms,” will be making New Orleans street-band-style music. Fools of all ages will be frolicking about, wearing colorful clothes, silly hats, feathers, flowers, capes and frills. They may be blowing bubbles, skipping, skating, laughing and parading about with kin, pals and four-legged friends—whatever they feel like doing. Don’t miss the crowning of the King and Queen of Fools! occidentalcenterforthearts.org, 707-874-9392

71st Annual Apple Blossom Fest & Parade
April 22-23 (reception April 21)
The Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is taking the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival to a place it has never gone before—into outer space, said Chamber Executive Director Teresa Ramondo. While the popularity of this hometown event has been out of this world since it originated in 1947, most themes have hovered on nostalgia and tradition. An Apple Blossom Odyssey combines the past with the future. “We’ve never done a space theme before—it will be fun, and we’re also tying history into it so people will understand why we do this event every year,” Ramondo said. “It’s all about the apple—to bring more attention to why we celebrate it, why it is a part of our heritage and why we want to save it… On Friday night we are going to bring back a reception to celebrate the apple farmer. We are going to be honoring the people who are old-timers in the apple industry, who have stuck it out for many years,” Ramondo added. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Friday on Main Street; the festival follows at Ives Park. appleblossomfest.com, sebastopol.org, 707-823-3032

28th Annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley
Prelude: April 28, Passport: April 29-30
The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley host their signature event during the last weekend in April, drawing thousands of people from around the country. “Passport is the original and gold standard of passport-style events, and each winery provides a unique destination that has a very strong food and wine pairing element,” said Ann Petersen, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley executive director. Wineries are throwing elaborate themed parties, with chefs, music and newly released and limited-edition wines. Several VIP ticket add-ons are new, such as “vineyard designate” tasting experiences, meals with winemakers, and vineyard tours. The vineyard designate experiences enable consumers to talk with growers and vintners about winemaking style, wine production and terroir. Sunday-only tickets are available for locals, but they sell out fast. “Most of our wineries are selling direct to consumer (DTC), so they really want to make connections with the consumers,” Petersen said. drycreekvalley.org