Wine Events at the Heart of Russian River Winters

Before we were blessed with children, we identified as wineauxs. Our domestic and international travel generally revolved around tasting wine in some exciting new wine region. Then kids. Over the years we have developed a few strategies keep the children entertained while we wine taste and we have found some great kid-friendly wineries. But alas, the kids just tolerate our wine tasting adventures and we are generally limited to one or two tasting rooms depending on the kids mood. So one of our favorite things to do is pack the kids off to the grandparents and spend the weekend wine tasting at Winter Wineland!

The Wine Road Podcast yesterday reminded me that Winter Wineland is coming in only one week and inspired me to get a post up highlighting all the great fall and winter wine events in the Russian River area. Most of these wine events are adults only but at the end of the post I highlight a few great kid-friendly holiday wine events that we discovered this year.

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Six Best Winter Activities Along the Russian River with Kids

The Russian River area can be enjoyed by kids and adults all year round, even in the wintertime. You just have to know what to look for and that is why we decided to come up with a list of the six best kid friendly winter activities along the Russian River.

The winter around here is generally mild and it doesn’t snow but it rains a fair amount and has a tendency to be soggy at times. But if you are prepared with some hiking boots or rain boots and some warm layers then you are good to go! However sometimes folks just don’t want to venture out into the muck so I have also included some unique indoor activities you and your family can also enjoy.

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Fresh Dungeness Crab in Bodega, A Holiday Meal to Remember

Turkey, ham, and prime rib may be the meal that comes to mind around the holidays but San Franciscan’s and Northern California chefs know that the easiest way to have an amazingly memorable holiday feast is with dungeness crabs fresh off the boat. Dungeness crab season varies each year but generally runs from  November to June; just in time for Thanksgiving! While I have been scheming for a few years to get a crab pot and try my luck at kayak crab fishing, it just hasn’t worked out. That however, is to my kids benefit because our family traditon has evolved to making a family excursion out to the crab boats where the kids can pick out the fiestiest crabs right from the fishermen.

This year we turned our annual crab feast into a local food holiday get together. We headed up to Guerneville and invited the extended family to stay with us at the Lucky Bend Lookout vacation rental overlooking the Russian River. Between the Russian River Valley wineries, the western Sonoma bakeries, and Bodega commercial fishery we had fresh everything at our table. Read on for our guide on where to get every thing you need including our recipe for reliable steaming. Continue reading “Fresh Dungeness Crab in Bodega, A Holiday Meal to Remember”

Jenner Headlands Preserve Kids Loop

Thanks to very active nonprofits like The Wildlands Conservancy and the Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County is constantly opening new public open space with robust trail systems and fantastic recreational opportunities. The newest park in the county can also lay claim to the best views. Overlooking the Rusaian River estuary and the rugged Sonoma Coast seastacks, Jenner Headlands Preserve just opened providing a range of trails suitable for the little ones all the way up to trail runners headed to the top of adjoining Pole Mountain Preserve. Dean, 5 years old, and Raylah, 7 years old, had a great time hiking thanks to a wide variety of activities that kept them entertained while mom and dad reveled in the panoramic views. Continue reading “Jenner Headlands Preserve Kids Loop”

Relive the Lazy Life Floating the Russian River with Kids, a Complete Guide

Remember those carefree days when you could spend a whole day lazily floating on the water with your friends, drinking beer, and debating the topics of the day. It seems like ages ago that our kids came along and ended that kind of carefee tranquility. But finally, at ages 5 and 7, we have regained some of that spirit (but in much shorter doses)! The Russian River near Guerneville is a perfect place to rekindle those relaxing tube floats on the river. Here is how to pull it off! Continue reading “Relive the Lazy Life Floating the Russian River with Kids, a Complete Guide”

Fishing with Kids on the Russian River

We recently took the kids on a coho salmon hike organized by the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) at Samuel P Taylor State Park. Seeing those huge red and white fish in such a small creek got us that got us thinking about the steelhead run in the Russian River right now. Our vacation rental, Lucky Bend Lookout, is actually named after the famous fishing hole the “Lucky Bend” just west of Guerneville just down river from old Summer Crossing Road. Last week we were delighted to chat with several anglers in hip-waders casting through the light fog into the brisk waters right behind our house. One fellow had landed a 18″ steelhead. The kids were mesmerized and amazed that they spent the summers swimming in the same waters from which this huge fish had come.

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What’s Up with the Seasonal Dams?

So whats the deal with seasonal dams on the Russian river anyway? All summer the water levels are perfect for swimming but on those lovely warm indian summer weekends sometimes the water levels are too shallow for even paddle boarding. Here’s how to predict the water levels.

Normally the Russian River during the summer months is only ankle to knee deep which would make for some uncomfortable cannon balls off the local rope swings. Fortunately for all of us vacationers, the seasonal dams raise the water levels by about 10′, making our swimming, floating, and boating adventures possible. Continue reading “What’s Up with the Seasonal Dams?”