JANUARY THROUGH APRIL
Whale Watching: In January, migrating gray whales head south from their feeding grounds in the frigid waters near Alaska to the subtropical waters of the lagoons and bays of Baja California. On weekends, whale fans gather at Bodega Head for a chance to see the majestic sea mammals. Once they arrive in the south, the whales mate and nurse their young. By April, pairs of cows and calves, which tend to travel closer to shore, can be spotted heading back north again.
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, 707-869-9177, stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org
Three Kings Day: Celebrate the arrival of the wise men after the birth of Christ, in keeping with the Spanish tradition of “El Día de los Reyes Magos,” with an Epiphany performance from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Gloria Ferrer Winery cave. Sip sparkling wine and sample Spanish holiday treats. $15; children under 12 free.
23555 Highway 121, Sonoma, 707-933-1917, gloriaferrer.com
Martini Madness: Sonoma Valley celebrates olive season throughout January and February with a dozen events, including this popular cocktail contest, with bartenders from Sonoma Valley restaurants, bars and pubs competing to create the best new martini. Visitors get to sample the creations and vote for their favorites. The party, at MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, runs from 5 to 7 p.m.
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, 29 E. MacArthur St., Sonoma, 707-938-2929, macarthurplace.com
Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, 866-996-1090, olivefestival.com
Audra McDonald: Audiences love this singer, who made her Broadway debut in 1992 while still studying at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She has since won a record-tying five Tony Awards. After four seasons on the ABC television series “Private Practice,” she continues her concert career, making her first appearance in Weill Hall. McDonald will perform show tunes, songs from classic movies and original pieces. $45-$95.
Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu
Winter WINEland: Wine Road Northern Sonoma County stages its 22nd annual winter celebration with a long list of wineries participating. Meet winemakers and taste limited-production wines, new releases and library wines. All of the wineries will have something on sale, some will offer food pairings and others will give tours. $35-$45 in advance; $45-$60 at the door; $5-$10 for designated drivers.
Feast of the Olive Dinner: Another olive season high point is this event at Ramekins Culinary School, Special Events & Inn in Sonoma, with local chefs, winemakers and olive oil producers collaborating on the five-course menu and wine pairings. 6 p.m. $150.
450 West Spain St., Sonoma, 707-996-1090, olivefestival.com
Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest: There are great crab feeds throughout Sonoma this time of year, and one of the most beloved is the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s annual bash, now in its 25th year. The feasting begins at 6:30 p.m. in Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. $75.
1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, 707-544-5575, sonomafb.org
International Alsace Varietals Festival: The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association hosts a tasting of wines from around the globe, with wineries from France, Germany and New Zealand pouring samples alongside those from Michigan, New York, Oregon and California. And, of course, there will be Anderson Valley wines. The event includes pairings with local cheeses, Tomales Bay oysters and more, an educational session and winemaker dinners. $65 for the Grand Tasting.
Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14400 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-895-9463, avwines.com
Cloverdale Citrus Fair: California’s first fair of the year is also one of the longest-running. Founded in 1893, it’s held every February, rain or shine. The featured exhibits are made of citrus fruits, primarily oranges, and are filled in with other food products, such as coffee, nuts and raisins. Entertainment, rides and fair food are among the other activities. $7 general admission; $5 for children 6-12; 5 and under free.
Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds, 1 Citrus Fair Drive, Cloverdale, 707-894-3992, cloverdalecitrusfair.org
“Wild Jungle Love”: Celebrate the day after Valentine’s Day at the Safari West wild animal preserve northeast of Santa Rosa, where even water buffalo and wildebeest can find romance. The package includes chocolates and wine at 2:30 p.m., followed by a look at love in the wild on a “Safari Sex Tour” of the 400-acre property by truck. Finish with dinner and dancing from 5:30 to 11 p.m. $140. Private tours are available by reservation for Feb. 14 and 16, at $800 for up to 10 guests.
3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, 707-579-2551, safariwest.com
Kathleen Madigan: Lewis Black called her “the funniest woman in America.” With her latest TV special, “Madigan Again,” out on CD, the winner of several “best female comedian” honors is on the road again, and returning to Santa Rosa’s Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. 8 p.m. $32.
50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-3600, wellsfargocenterarts.org
Jazz on the Menu: One of the more inventive music events of the season is the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s winter fundraiser for music education. Dine at one of 15 participating restaurants in Healdsburg and Geyserville, with each restaurant featuring live jazz 6-9 p.m. Restaurants donate 25 percent of their evening’s receipts to school music programs. There’s also an “after party” 7:30-10:30 p.m. at Costeaux French Bakery ($15).
Looking for great Sonoma Magazine content in your inbox? Subscribe here