Holidays in the Hills is a festive December tradition for many wine enthusiasts on the Placer Wine Trail. The annual event is held the first weekend of December and combines winter wine specials, wineries decorated for the holidays, a toy drive, and wine tasting with treats along the way.

The wine tastings are included in the price of the ticket, and many wineries provide food samples, food for purchase, or have a food truck on site so you won’t go hungry. The vendor shopping opportunities lead to some unique and thoughtful holiday gifts, with plenty of time to wrap and ship presents off to family and friends.

One way the wineries and attendees of Holidays in the Hills are able to give back to the local community is through a Toys for Tots toy drive with the Salvation Army. Each participating winery has a collection box and you get a bottle price discount when you bring a new toy. Judging by some of the boxes, there were some really exciting electronics, large stuffed animals, and something for every kid who will be getting an item from the generosity of others.



Top Stops

The Placer Wine Trail has a new member! A new family winery called Dora Dain Wines was open and pouring two of their current wines. They are centrally located in Lincoln, near Ciotti and Wise Villa. It was raining on Saturday, which was a first in the event’s history, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time. Their tasting area was set up outside and had a fire pit going, snacks were offered, and they decorated a darling old truck which was a perfect backdrop for holiday photos.

Ciotti not only had a delicious homemade Tuscan soup on hand, but Santa made an appearance too. The wines are big and bold, with plenty available to taste and enjoy. We went home with several “mystery” bottles that were hand-signed by the owner too with a holiday message.

Bonitata is located where the historic Bernhard Winery was founded in 1874. The building and museum is in Downtown Auburn, near the Gold Country Fairgrounds. With the location right off the freeway, it makes for a good starting or stopping point. The owner, Mark Bonitata, was on hand to pour from a vast list of wines. Every person was able to choose their own tasting list from 5 wines and sample them while enjoying egg rolls he had catered for the event. Being able to pick the wines to taste allowed for a tasting customized to your likes and style preference.


One of the longer established wineries on the Trail, Lone Buffalo always has a vast array of vendors on hand to help with your holiday shopping. Ternero Olive Oil had balsamic vinegars, family-grown olives in a variety of infused olive oils. This was a fascinating stop besides just to enjoy the wine, but a Placer Land Trust representative was on hand to pour a special wine named Dogface Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is a jbrand collaboration with the Placer Land Trust and a portion of the proceeds goes to protecting the habitation of the California’s state insect, the California Dogface Butterfly.


PaZa always has some of the best views and Saturday was no different. Being ouside in The Shed led to a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The heaters made it feel like it was a sunny day, and their homemade roasted squash soup warmed you from the inside. The owners are on hand at all their events to ask questions, explain the wine, and educate you on what’s going on in the vineyards below. This time of year, the vines go dormant so they can get ready for production in the springtime.


Coming Up in the Spring

A few of the next upcoming wine events for in the area include Sip into Spring in March on the Placer Wine Trail, and the Lincoln Wine Fest held annually the last Saturday in April. If you missed Holidays in the Hills, these events also showcase the wines of Placer County and always promise a great time!


Written By:  Rebecca Wilkie, Sip Savor Smile

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