Ahwahnee Autumn: Vintners’ Holidays

Golden State vineyards gather in Yosemite to talk tannins, fruit, and soil.

Yosemite National Park

A DRY YOSEMITE FALLS... is one of the most visual ways to tell that autumn is on its way to Yosemite National Park. August into November can bring a different vibe for the park's legendary waterfalls, which crash and sparkle and flow in the springtime with drama and flair. The autumn is quieter on the waterfall front, but that doesn't mean there isn't a show below. The oaks dotting the valley are starting to take on that honeyed hue, at least around the leaves, and the Pacific dogwoods are greeting the season with their own crimson touches. But one of the liveliest signs of the season doesn't arrive before November, and it takes place not in the out-of-doors, or under the sky, but rather inside The Ahwahnee. The historic and stately lodge does not have a grove of oaks dotting its capacious lobby; rather, November and December are the months when the Vintners' Holidays settle in for a long and learn-happy and supremely sippable sojourn. For sure, you guessed it, you're right on the money: Wine is the theme, but not just any wine gets to star. California labels are the front-and-center reasons for the holidays, and the people who make them and know a lot about them, and, of course...

THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE WINE: As any vino-ist can own up to, adoring all of the good that comes from the grape in the beverage realm is an ongoing education, one that can always be deepen and enhanced. That's what happens over the six sessions, which run in spurts of two or three days at a time from Nov. 8 through Dec. 3. Could you do them all? Well, gosh, that's a dream, isn't, but finding a favorite vineyard on the list, or a winemaker or expert you'd like to meet, is key when planning your dates. Also key? Looking at the packages offered (you can stay at The Ahwahnee or a few other nearby choices, like Curry Village). Inman Family Wines, Silver Oak Cellars, Justin Winery, and Benziger Family Winery will all be presenting and talking and swirling the beautiful reds and whites in 2015. It's a luxe learning experience that also doubles as a true signal that autumn has placed its golden cloak upon Yosemite Valley. And we do so like those tasty, tony events that also serve as a sign of the seasons.

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