A Great Crop of Good Times

As the weather cools and the leaves change color, here are a few things to do to bring the new season in.

The National Heirloom Exposition at the Sonoma Fairgrounds. (photo by John Burgess)
The National Heirloom Exposition at the Sonoma Fairgrounds. (photo by John Burgess)

September 9-11
National Heirloom Exposition: More than 18,000 people showed up in 2013 for this celebration of pure food and heirloom vegetables. This year, the event includes 100 speakers and 300 natural-food vendors, sure to delight farmers, home growers, foodies and anyone who takes eating seriously. $10 for one day, $25 for all three; free for children under 17.
Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma, theheirloomexpo.com

September 13
Ben Harper: Green Music Center’s Weill Hall has established itself as a world-class venue for classical music, but it’s also a great spot for this singer-songwriter’s special blend of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock. The back wall of the hall will be opened up so that the crowd can spill out onto the lawn and listen to Harper — fresh from his Grammy Award for Best Blues Album (with local Charlie Musselwhite) — perform an acoustic show at 7:30 p.m. $12.50 to $88.
Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu

September 17-21
Wine Country Film Festival: Sonoma County’s 28th annual celebration of cinema, also known as the Santa Rosa International Film Festival, showcases films from around the world, screened at various locations throughout the region. $25 weekday pass; $45 weekend day pass; $100 festival pass. Check the website for the screening schedule.
wcff.us

September 19-20
Sonoma Plein Air Gala: Sonoma’s celebration of outdoor painting informally begins Sept. 15, with artists at work at locations all over Sonoma Valley, and builds to a gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 19 at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. The festival concludes Sept. 20 with the week’s artwork on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Sonoma Plaza.
sonomapleinair.com

Melissa Etheridge is one of the headliners at this year's B.R. Cohn Fall Music Festival. (photo: melissaetheridge.com)
Melissa Etheridge is one of the headliners at this year’s B.R. Cohn Fall Music Festival. (photo: melissaetheridge.com)

September 19-22
B.R. Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival: One of Sonoma Valley’s most popular annual events opens Sept. 19 with a gala charity auction dinner ($175) prepared by chef Mark Stark. Two days of live music follow with Peter Frampton, Melissa Etheridge, Huey Lewis and The News, the Wallflowers, Los Lonely Boys and more set to perform. The B.R. Cohn Celebrity Golf Classic follows the festival on Sept. 22. Festival admission is $79; a two-day pass is $129; VIP tickets are $300-$1,000. Greens fees at Sonoma Golf Club: $275.
B. R. Cohn Winery, 15000 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, 855-235-2867, brcohnfallfestival.org

September 20
St. Regis Polo Cup: Polo enthusiasts can get their fix at the St. Regis Polo Cup match at Wild Oak Saddle Club in Santa Rosa. Benefitting the nonprofit Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Petaluma, the noon to 4 p.m. match includes food and drink, with chef Olivier Belliard of the St. Regis Hotel San Francisco creating culinary treats, and Hamel Family Wines of Sonoma providing the wine tasting. St. Regis’ signature Bloody Mary cocktail will also be in the mix. $350 per person.
Wild Oak Saddle Club, 550 White Oak Drive, Santa Rosa, stregissanfrancisco.com/polo-cup

September 20-21
Wings Over Wine Country: The Pacific Coast Air Museum hosts this two-day air show featuring vintage planes, war birds, aerobatics and more, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. This perennial crowd-pleaser draws 20,000 people each year. $18 in advance, $20 at the gate for adults; seniors and child discounts available, as well as VIP packages.
Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, 200 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa, 707-566-8380, wingsoverwinecountry.org

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty

September 21-22
Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival: Gary Clark Jr., Boney James, Ana Popovic, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, and Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings are among the acts lined up for this two-day blowout on the Russian River, with jazz on the first day and blues on the second. $50 per day; $80 for a two-day pass. Camping is available for those who don’t want to miss a note.
Johnson’s Beach, 16241 First St., Guerneville, 949-360-7800, russianriverfestivals.com

September 23
Diana Ross: The pop and soul diva, winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, brings her signature vocal style and wardrobe to Weill Hall at Green Music Center and its spacious back lawn at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices run from $12.50 to $225.00. Food and drink are available.
Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu

September 26-28
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival: It’s up there with the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena as the two longest-running festivals in California. Since 1897, Sonoma Valley has staged the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, which began as a celebration of the wine grape harvest and has grown into so much more. Held on and around the Sonoma Plaza, the event offers plenty of wine to taste, of course, and also a beer garden, food vendors, music, kids’ fun zone, arts and crafts, grape stomp and a parade. See the website for the many options and ticket prices.
707-996-2109, valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com

September 27
Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival: The 18th annual event celebrates the delicious flavors of more than 175 heritage varieties of tomatoes grown in Kendall-Jackson Winery’s estate culinary gardens. Taste though them all, enjoy tomato-based bites prepared by local chefs and caterers, and pair them with K-J wines. Music, garden tours, wine and gardening seminars and a Chef’s Challenge competition are also part of the day. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. $95; VIP all-access $150.
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, 707-433-6000, kj.com

September 28
Sonoma County Harvest Fair Awards Dinner: The annual Harvest Fair itself runs Oct. 3-5 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, but it’s preceded by one of the region’s most prestigious events, a gala dinner announcing the fair’s awards for the best in Sonoma food and wine. The doors open at 4:30 p.m. for a reception with appetizers; the awards ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner is at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person.
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-545-4200, harvestfair.org

September 28
Michael Feinstein, The Sinatra Project: It’s all about the black ties and blue eyes. When Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center opens its 2014-15 Mastercard Performance Series with singer Michael Feinstein at Weill Hall, the entertainer will tip his fedora to legendary crooner Frank Sinatra. Donors can enjoy a gala cocktail party, dinner and dancing after the 3 p.m. concert. Ticket prices start at $65.
Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu.

October 4-5
Historic Car Racing: Some of the most gorgeous cars of yore grace the Sonoma Raceway track, showing they may be old but haven’t lost their charisma or speed. Those with a taste for automotive eye candy can watch classic Maseratis, Ferraris and Porsches take their turns around the track, joined by an array of Formula, Trans-Am and special cars from the golden era of U.S. sports and production racing cars. Tickets are $25 at the gate, $40 for a two-day pass.
Sonoma Raceway, 29355 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-938-8448, racesonoma.com

October 11
Sonoma Bar Battle: Sonoma Valley’s best bartenders go head to head in an “Iron Chef”-inspired competition of cocktail concocting. Attendees can sample food and cocktails from the participants while enjoying live music and a silent auction. The event, which begins at 6 p.m., is hosted by and benefits Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor No. 111 and American Legion Post No. 489. $35 in advance, $40 at the door, with tickets available at Steiner’s Tavern, Eraldi’s Menswear & Shoes and the Town Square.
Sonoma Veterans Building, 126 First St. West, Sonoma, 707- 337-1402, sonomabarbattle.com

October 11-12, 18-19
Sonoma County Art Trails: The Sebastopol Center for the Arts has revived this longtime event for art lovers who appreciate getting closer to the source. More than 160 artists in all corners of the county, from painters to printmakers, and jewelers to sculptors, welcome visitors to drop by their studios to learn about their creative processes. The website has a catalog to chart your course.
707-829-4797, sonomacountyarttrails.org

October 24
Joshua Bell and Alessio Bax: Violinist Joshua Bell won fans for his contributions to the soundtrack of the 1998 film, “The Red Violin.” Experience his artistry in person as Bell is accompanied by pianist Alessio Bax in this recital at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. The 8 p.m. concert is a fundraiser for the Santa Rosa Symphony. Tickets are $50 to $200; those paying $500 get an invitation to a cocktail reception, dinner in the Carston Cabaret, and the opportunity to meet the musicians.
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-8742, santarosasymphony.com

October 26
Pinot on the River: Love Pinot Noir? Get ready for a full day of tasting, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the charming downtown Healdsburg Plaza, with more than 100 wineries and a wide array of artisan food vendors. Ticket prices range from $75 to $150.
800-678-4763, pinotfestival.com

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