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Napa Valley Wine Train
Photograph: Courtesy Napa Valley Wine Train

The best Christmas events and holiday things to do in Wine Country

An escape to Wine Country offers wine-fueled Christmas festivities you just can’t find in the city

By Shoshi Parks
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There’s plenty to do in San Francisco over the holiday season, but an escape to Wine Country offers some festivities you just can’t find in the city. Revel in a wine-fueled celebration at Napa or Sonoma vineyards and restaurants or sign-up for a quaint family tradition like the Santa Train or Christmas Bird Count for Kids.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Napa

Christmas in Wine Country

1. Spoonbar’s Crab Feed Dinner

Restaurants Contemporary American Healdsburg

In Northern California, the holidays are synonymous with Dungeness crab season. Head to Spoonbar for their first festive, family-style crab feed to celebrate the beloved crustacean alongside side dishes like crispy Brussels sprouts, truffled mac-and-cheese, and winter chicory salad, as well as wine from Cartograph Wines. 20 percent of all proceeds will be donated to the North Valley Community Foundation’s fire relief fund for those affected by the Camp Fire.

Dec 5 at 6:30pm; $65

Napa Valley Wine Train
Photograph: Courtesy Napa Valley Wine Train

2. Santa Train on the Napa Valley Wine Train

All aboard the Santa Train, a 75-min interactive adventure for the whole family. Sip hot cocoa and nibble freshly-baked cookies alongside a cast of singing characters (including Santa himself!) as the train winds its way through the valley on a mission to save Jolly the Bear at the North Pole.

Various dates, 5pm and 7:15pm; $39-$69. 

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SHED
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Markus Spiering

3. Holidays in Healdsburg Tour

This popular annual event takes guests on a deep dive into Healdsburg’s wine and food scene. On the morning tour, the group winds its way among five boutique wine tasting rooms and food purveyors for four hours of holiday flavors and shopping. The evening tour is a two-hour stroll through wine, spirits and hors d'oeuvres in the central plaza’s best-loved restaurants.

Daily through Dec 31, 11am and 5pm; $59-$99

ice skating
Photograph: Credit Michael Bentley

4. Napa on Ice

Every day this December you can glide your way toward the holidays at Napa’s 6,300-square-foot outdoor rink. Skaters get unlimited skate time for $14 (including skate rental), but if you’re saving your holiday dough for gifts, head to the rink on December 11 for a free community skate day.

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5. Seasonal Celebration at Long Meadow Ranch

Restaurants American St. Helena

Long Meadow Ranch’s quaint yet chic Farmstead property comes alive for the holidays on December 7 with a free event for the whole family. Sip complimentary hot chocolate or cider, roast marshmallows at the outdoor fire pit, and join in with Christmas carols and live music. Santa Claus will be posing for photos under the pergola and BBQ bites and adult beverages will be available for purchase.

Dec 7, 4:30-6:30pm; free but reservations required

Santa with pets, dog

6. Holidays on the Northern Frontier

On December 8, downtown Sonoma dresses up for a holiday festival of historic proportions. Watch living history demonstrations, indulge in free refreshments and meet Santa Claus at the oldest buildings in town, including the Toscano Hotel & Kitchen, the Blue Wing Inn, and the Sonoma Barracks. A holiday sing-along in the chapel of the Sonoma Mission will welcome a new audience at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm (this portion of the evening is ticketed).

Dec 8, 4-8pm; $2.50 donation requested

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The Girl & the Fig
Photograph: Megan Steffen

7. Holiday Dinner in the Cask Room at Merryvale Vineyards

Dress to dazzle for this intimate dinner in Merryvale Vineyards's elegant Cask Room. The meal will be catered by The Girl & the Fig and features Merryvale’s finest large format and library wines, including the remaining drops of a 1983 vintage to honor the winery's 35th anniversary. Live music by Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers will keep things festive all night long.

Dec 8 at 6:30pm; $225

ugly sweater
Photograph: Courtesy Asos

8. Ugly Sweater Holiday Party at Provenance Vineyards

Dust off your best ugly sweater and head to Provenance Vineyards for an afternoon of wine, eats, holiday music and a carousing best dressed contest. Provenance is partnering with Cal Fire to donate gifts to underprivileged kids so bring along a new, unwrapped toy to the event.

Dec 8, 1-3pm; $20

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Pine Ridge Vineyards
Photograph: Erin Kuschner

9. Pine Ridge Vineyards

Bars Wineries

Pine Ridge Vineyards lights up on December 8 with a festive, holiday-themed open house. Stroll the property and investigate the wine caves with the voices of carolers to guide your way. In the tasting room, Pine Ridge will be pouring their current releases and serving up small bites.

Dec 8, 10:30am-4pm; $45

Bill Graham Menorah Day, one of the best Hanukkah events in San Francisco
Photograph: Natalie Schrik

10. Judd’s Hill Annual Hanukkah Hootenanny

On the last day of Hanukkah, Judd’s Hill winery is hosting a lively celebration full of Jewish holiday delicacies—brisket sliders, latke, sufganiyot (traditional jelly donuts) and plenty of wine from current and library vintages. Alongside the festivities, Judd’s Hill will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food for local Napa charities. Get your tickets early, the hootenanny sells out quickly every year.

Dec 10, 12-2:30pm; $55

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Pastries at La Victoria
Photograph: Yelp/ Joanna L

11. Virgin of Guadalupe Procession

Not a lot of people are aware of this religious holiday tradition that brings worshipers to the streets to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. A parade of 1,000 people carrying candlesm religious figures, incense and flowers travels nine miles between the St. Rose Catholic Church to Windsor’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at midnight. In past years, Aztec dancers and horseback riders have joined the march. At their destination, the group shares hot chocolate, coffee and Mexican pastries and are welcomed to an early Mass at the cathedral.

connolly ranch
Photograph: Visit Napa

12. Christmas Bird Count for Kids

Connolly Ranch has teamed up with the Napa-Solano Audubon Society to host this year’s Christmas Bird Count for Kids. The century old tradition of citizen science will help to provide the Audubon Society with much need information about our changing environment. A great way to get kids involved in recognizing the value of all living things.

Dec 16, 8:30am-12:30pm; free but advance registration required

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ABBA

13. ABBA-solutely Christmas Show

Join in on the holiday fun at the Lincoln Theater’s ABBA tribute show. The nationally touring ABBA tribute band, The ABBA Show, will be belting out Swedish pop favorites interspersed with toe-tapping Christmas music. A feel-good experience that will have you dancing ‘til Christmas day.

Dec 22 at 7:30pm; $35-$65

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Pool at Calistoga Ranch
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