Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

November 30, 2013

Lighting of the Snowmen at Cornerstone SonomaOne of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in true style.

Here are some selected family-friendly events and happenings, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. There's nothing quite like taking in the Wine Country scenery (and maybe a glass of Pinot Noir) on a crisp and clear December day!

Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley & Sonoma County

Cornerstone Sonoma Lighting of the Snowmen

Cornerstone Sonoma presents its 9th annual Lighting of the Snowmen on Sunday, December 8. The festivities begin at 3 pm. This traditional holiday kick-off event is free and open to the public. Parking is $5 (free overflow parking and shuttle from nearby Jacuzzi Winery). Enjoy live music, photos with Santa in the Big Blue Chair, a dance performance, classic holiday films, a German beer garden, and a carnival fundraiser with treats and activities for everyone. Cornerstone Sonoma is located at 23667 Highway 121 in Sonoma. More information

Photos with Santa at Larson Family Winery

Larson Family Winery near Sonoma, is a great family-friendly winery. Kids can get their photo taken with Santa at the winery on Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, from 11 am to 2 pm. Photos cost $10 (or free with any wine purchase!) and will be emailed to you for use in Christmas cards or whatever you please. Larson Family Winery is located at 23355 Millerick Road in Sonoma. More infomation

Buena Vista Winery Holiday Open House

Historic Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma holds its Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 7, from 10 am to 4 pm. This family-friendly event features local artisan vendors, gourmet hors d'ouevres by winery chef Michel Cornu, and a visit from Santa himself. Admissioin is $15 for adults and free for kids. 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma. More information

Santa's Brunch at Ramekins Cooking School

Celebrate the season in style at this holiday family brunch on December 8 from 10 am to 2 pm at Ramekins in Sonoma. This brunch features tasty treats, a photos with Santa, and cookie and ornament decorating for the kids. Mimosas, holiday cocktails, and wine will be available for purchase. Adults $50, kids 11–16 $25, kids under 10 free. More information

Sonoma Holiday Tree Lighting

Kick off the holidays at Sonoma's historic Plaza with Santa's arrival, a tree lighting, and more. It all takes place on Friday, December 6 at 5:30 pm. More information at (707) 996-1033.

Holiday Crafts at Francis Coppola Winery

Francis Coppola Winery on Geyserville offers festive holiday crafts for the family from December 7–22 from noon–3 pm. Make snowflakes, create snow globes, decorate cookies, and more. $5 per person. Location: 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville. More information

Three Kings Day at Gloria Ferrer

Gloria Ferrer winery celebrates Three Kings Day on January 5 in traditional Spanish style! The performance starts at 4 pm. Enjoy a glass of bubbly, Spanish rosca bread, and hot cocoa. Cost is $15 per person; children under 12 are free. Gloria Ferrer is located at 23555 Highway 121 in Sonoma. More information

Other Places to Visit for Family Fun

While you're in Sonoma Valley, check out some of our favorite family destinations, including Cline Cellars (where you can feed the fish) and the Missions Museum, Larson Family Winery, which offers outdoor games and even ride-on toys for kids, Sonoma Train Town (open Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm), Jack London State Historic Park, and of course the Sonoma Plaza with its historic sites.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Trains

Napa Valley Wine Trains' Santa Express Trains are a magical experience for the whole family. Trains run December 2–5, 9–12 from 3–5:30 pm and December 16–19 from 9–11:30 am and 3–5:30 pm. Santa and some special friends will be on board, of course. Tickets do sell out very early, so check for availablity at (800) 427-4124. Tickets range from $20–$35 per person. Refreshments available for purchase on board. More information

"Twas the Night Before Christmas" Parade in Downtown Napa

Napa's annual holiday parade takes place Saturday, November 30 from 5–8 pm. This evening parade features a spectacular array of lights. Santa will lead everyone to the Town Center Rotunda following the parade. More information

3rd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Celebration at Robert Mondavi Winery

Welcome the holiday season at Robert Mondavi Winery's annual holiday party on Saturday, November 30 from 3–5 pm, which includes a tree lighting, horse-and-buggy rides through the vineyards, wine tasting, hot cider, carolers, Italian cookies, and food. Admission is $25 per person; free for children under 12 and for those who bring a food donation for Napa Valley Food Bank. 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville. More information

Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade and Holiday Village

This small town holiday celebration, now in its 18th year, features vintage and modern tractors and other vehicles decked out in dazzling lights on Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga's charming main street. It takes place on Saturday, December 7, from 7–8 pm. Santa will make a special appearance, of course. Earlier in the day, from 9 am–4 pm, Santa's Workshop will be set up at the Napa County Fairgrounds (1435 North Oak Street) where kids 2–12 can create ornaments, gingerbread houses, and Christmas gifts. Admission is free. More information