Wine Country Personality: Bret LeRolland

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The Wine Carriage - Wine Tasting via Horse & Carriage with Gourmet Lunch
Healdsburg, CA


wcPersonality_WineCarriage_Bret.jpgBret LeRolland is no ordinary tour operator. He's a different kind of guy with a different kind of business. The Wine Carriage is the quintessential off-the-beaten-track winery and tasting tour -- from the conveyance itself, a shade-top carriage drawn by two giant draft horses, to the personalized service, local knowledge and preferred treatment that a tour with Bret guarantees.

Riding with Bret and his matched Percherons, Duke and Pepper, is not only a thrill, it's a real backstage look into the world of California wine. He knows the history of the region and its characters, the lifecycle of the vines, climate, geology, and wine. In addition to a certificate in Biological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz, Bret has experience in farming and logging salvaged redwoods with draft horses, as well as crossing several states on horseback.  As he puts it, "I always knew I wanted to work with horses".  But he had to go pretty far out of his way to do it.

The son of a New York City cop, Bret grew up in the Big Apple, often visiting his grandmother in Harlem.  Growing up with such an urban bias, he decided to try something different.  Relocating to the left coast, Bret worked on ships in Alaska before moving to California to study at UCSC, and later attended the California School of Circus Arts to learn Chinese acrobatics and fire spinning.

wcPersonality_WineCarriage_Bret_Pic2.jpgAfter all of his explorations and pursuit of varied interests, Bret combined his love of horses, knowledge of wine and appreciation of the natural beauty of northern California's wine country and started Flying Horse Wine Tours in the spectacular setting of Alexander Valley. After a few years, the business evolved into The Wine Carriage and this unique tour began getting noticed in publications such as AAA magazine and the Wall St. Journal.

The Wine Carriage tour begins with a visit to the wine cave at Alexander Valley Vineyards.  Clients stroll through gothic vaulted chambers filled with oak casks aging in the unchanging coolness of the earth.  After some barrel sampling they link up with the waiting carriage and meet the horses, polished and shining in their tack.  You then set off on a 3-1/2 hour cross-country adventure to tastings at the award-winning Hanna and Soda Rock wineries and a sumptuous gourmet lunch.  You can reach out and pick grapes from the vines along the narrow lanes without spilling a drop from your wine glass.

Riders are regaled with local history, little known facts and inside stories as they cross creeks and travel over hill and dale while enjoying great wine, a lavish lunch and spectacular vistas.  Bret, Duke, Pepper and Wine Country are a magic formula that keeps clients coming back to treat friends to the unique experience year after year.

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4 Comments

These guys do a great job!

Wooohooo! Loved the ride!

how do you book this trip.

Bret is a great tour guide. This is well worth the time, you will not be sorry. My wife and I spent our 20th anniversary on this tour, great memories and the highlight of our visit to wine country.

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