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Wine Tasting Itinerary - Sonoma Wine Education

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For most people, a visit to a Sonoma County winery is a unique experience in itself. Not only will you experience the standard wine tasting, you will tour the facilities, get in the vineyard, soak in the views and taste wine right out of a barrel.

Benziger Family Winery
, 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (707) 935-3000
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  • Tasting Fee: $80 Per Couple - Benziger Partners Estate Vineyard Tour & Exclusive Wine Tasting
  • Time: 11:15 AM - Allow 1.5 Hours with tour. Arrive by 11 AM to access tour
  • Experience: Tour is a close-up look at the bio-dynamic and organic practices, as well as the wildlife sanctuary on site. Get in the vineyards and caves! This is a behind-the-scenes tour. Limited to groups of 10.
  • Reservations:  Required for the tour
  • Directions to Next Stop: (Allow 4 minutes for travel)  Drive E (Left) .4 mi. on London Ranch Road, turn L on Arnold for 1.9 miles, L into Glen Ellen Inn & Restaurant

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Northern Trail through Sonoma County

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Be ready for this adventure headed north through Sonoma County. It's a fast paced day to seek out the wonderful flavors of Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and much more!  You can see the winemaking equipment at Arrowood when you drive up to the house. Drink in the artwork at Imagery, as well as their wine. The drive north to Sonoma-Cutrer and Hartford Family Winery is as beautiful as the view from their porches.

Arrowood Vineyard & Winery, 14347 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (707) 935-2600
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  • Tasting Fee: $30 Per Couple - Reserve Tasting
  • Time: 10 AM - Allow One Hour
  • Reservations: Not Required
  • Experience: Incredible view from the wrap-around porch of the winery.  This is one of the few tasting rooms where you can buy wines by the glass and relax on the porch. Ask about tasting their small-production Malbec. It is very hard to find.
  • Directions to Next Stop: .2 miles west on Babb Lane toward CA 12. Imagery Estate Winery is at the base of the driveway to Arrowood Winery

Imagery Estate Winery
, 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (7807) 935-4515
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  • Tasting Fee: $20 Per Couple - Taste 5 of their many wines
  • Time: 11 AM - Allow One Hour
  • Experience: Imagery has a true artist feel to it. Each wine label is different and dons a piece of artwork from different artists. The wines are bodies of art as well. Imagery produces lesser known, but fabulous, varietals. Have you ever had a Cinsault or Barbera? You will! There always seems to be a lot of energy in the tasting room. If you have time, play a game of bocce on the gorgeous lawn.
  • Reservations: Not Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: (Allow 6 minutes for travel) R on CA 12 for 5.1 miles, CafĂ© Citti on your L

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Healdsburg Stars

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $15 Per Couple. 
To keep these kinds of offers, buy a couple of bottles that you enjoy! (*Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com)

On your way to Healdsburg, stop off at:

Korbel Champagne Cellars
, 13250 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446, (707) 824.7000
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  • Complimentary tastings - 20% off wine purchases!
  • 10AM- Allow One Hour or relax a while longer
  • No Reservation Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: SE on River Rd for 2.3 mi., L on Westside and stay on Westside (R at Fork) for 12.2 mi., R on Kinley Dr, 1st R on Magnolia

Alderbrook Winery, 2306 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433.5987
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  • 10 Per Couple - Basic Tasting
  • 12PM - Allow 45 minutes
  • No Reservations Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: L on Kinley Dr for 1.6 mi., L on Dry Creek Rd for 3.2 mi., L on Lambert Bridge Rd

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Napa Valley Floor

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $156 per Couple
To keep these kind of offers, buy a bottle or three! (*Please let wine tasting staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com)

Black Stallion Winery, 4089 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558 , (707) 227.3250
  • $30 Per Couple - Mixed Tasting
  • 10AM - Allow 45 minutes
  • No Reservations Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: Turn L on Silverado Trail and drive 2.4 mi. to Chimney Rock on your R

Chimney Rock Winery, 5350 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 257.2641
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  • $40 Per Couple, Terlato Family Vineyards Owner's Selection Tasting
  • 11:15AM  - Allow One Hour
  • No Reservation Required
  • Directions to Next Stop: R on Silverado Trail for 3.1 mi., turn L on Yountville Crossing Rd for 1.9 mi., L on Yount St, R on Humboldt St and L on Washington St, Bakery on your L

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Pinot Day in Russian River

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $69 Per Couple. To keep these kinds of offers, buy a bottle or three! (*Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com.)

Inman Family Wines
, 3900 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 293-9576
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  • $10.00 - Waived with purchase
  • 10:00 AM - Allow One Hour
  • No Reservation Required Thursday - Monday
  • Directions to Next Stop: R on Olivet for 1 mi., R on Guernerville Rd for 2.8 mi., R on Hwy 116W for 3 mi., R on Martinelli Rd

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Rutherford Dust

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $220 Per Couple! Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com and be sure to take advantage of our FREE WineCountry.com Mobile App to locate each stop and to see more itineraries. Want a more personalized and custom trip curated for you and your wine tasting party? Contact our Guest Services Department at 707.260.0721.

The AVA (American Viticulture Area) of Rutherford is known for the well drained soil on the valley floor that produces some amazing cabernet sauvignon with a "dusty" finish, hence the phrase "Rutherford Dust". Experience the flavors of the Rutherford AVA at each of the wineries on this Napa Valley wine tasting itinerary. Though it is famous for Cabernet, many other varietals of wine are grown in this region. Taste them all!


St. Supery, 8440 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 944.2945

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  • Rutherford Dust: A family owned winery in the heart of the Napa Valley, producing award winning Merlot and Cabernet from Rutherford vines.
  • $70 Per Couple - Dollarhide Library Tasting - Complimentary with purchase
  • 10AM - Allow One Hour
  • Reservation Required
  • Directions to Next Stop:  Turn right on Hwy 29 for .5 mile, turn R on Rutherford Rd, BV on R


Wine Tasting Itinerary: Bubbles, Pinot and Zins, Oh My!

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $75 Per Couple!

*To keep these kinds of offers, buy a bottle or three! Use our FREE Mobile App, WineCountry.com, to locate each stop and to see more itineraries. Contact our Guest Services Department at 707.260.0721 for a custom, personalized trip curated for you and your wine tasting party


The warm days and cool nights of Carneros and southern Sonoma County are ideal for growing these varietals. Some may come from as far north as Knights Valley, but you only need to make these four stops to taste some fabulous wines.  This is a relaxed-paced day. Make a stop for a quick lunch in downtown Sonoma on your way to Kenwood Vineyards.


Acacia Vineyards, 2750 Las Amigas Road, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 226.9991
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  • Fee: $15 Per Couple - Tasting Flight
  • Time: 10AM - Allow One Hour
  • Reservations: Required
  • Oh My!: Acacia's Pinot Noir Wines are made from specific vineyards that are known for a particular flavor profile. Taste the Lone Tree Vineyard's rustic style, St. Clair Vineyard's strawberry notes, L'histoire Profonde's earthy notes, and the Redding Ranch Vineyard's complexity.
  • Directions to Next Stop: R on Duhig Rd, L on CA 12 for 5.8 m., slight L on 121 S for 1.1 m., L on 121 S for .6 m. and R on Wagner Rd for .8 m.

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Carneros, Mt. Veeder and Southern Napa

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Tasting Fee Budget for the Day: $155 Per Couple! 
*Please let the staff know that you were referred by WineCountry.com.


Domaine Carneros, 1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559
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  • $40 Per Couple - Sparkling Wine Sampler
  • 10AM - Allow One Hour
  • No Reservation Required - Table service and nibbles available
  • Directions to Next Stop: Cuvaison is across the street

Sweet Whites: A Napa Valley Itinerary

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girlsDrinkingWhiteWineOutside.jpgby Courtney Cochran

If you enjoy a crisp, off dry Muscat (aka "sweet wines") on a warm afternoon or kicking back with girlfriends, this itinerary's for you. Come along as we visit three Napa Valley wineries offering pours of sweeter whites, and learn about shopping excursions and nightlife options, too. Here's to enjoying a sweet day in wine country!

Santa Barbara: Mini Guide to Santa Ynez

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Lincourt Winery - Santa Ynez Valley, CA

Image by dcshoesboy via Flickr

by Robert P. Farmer

Not too long ago, Santa Barbara County was home to a handful of Hollywood celebrities trying to exist outside the limelight, and to a handful of winemakers trying to make their way outside the glare of Napa-Sonoma.The region was also for a time home to a scattering of upstart wineries who each developed their own niche and subsequent cult following.Today, that cult following has developed into full-fledged fame.

Contemporary Santa Barbara County is home to more than 21,000 vineyard-planted acres, grown and tended by dozens of wineries. But happily, the majority of these wineries remain small in stature--family owned-and-operated concerns with small-batch production and a handcrafted aesthetic. The wineries are primarily situated in the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valleys, about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara. Rich with history and shot-through with breathtaking coastal scenery, the area's AVAs produce remarkable Pinot Noirs (as fans of the movie Sideways will no doubt recall). However the region is also responsible for several excellent Chardonnays and Cabernets. There are more varietals on offer from Santa Barbara in smaller quantities, including Merlots and select Malbecs and Viogniers.

Santa Barbara's Wine Country gained notoriety some years back with the release of the movie Sideways, and the region indeed capitalized on the fame. Thankfully, Santa Barbara has managed to retain its mellow, unpretentious appeal. The relaxed pace and easy-going charm actually translated well on screen, and visitors can easily take advantage of it with a well-planned weekend. The region's four main towns-- Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Ballard -- each have a distinct character. Also worthy of attention is the town of Buellton to the north. Whether exploring the quaint Danish-transplant town of Solvang or discovering one of the many great restaurants in the valley towns, the intrepid traveler will find Santa Barbara County every bit as appealing as California's more famous wine country to the north.

Here are my recommendations for the town of Santa Ynez:

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Carmel Valley: Great Food, Wine & Relaxation

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Bernadus.jpgThe ultimate three day weekend in Carmel Valley (Monterey Wine Country) is at your fingertips. The Monterey County CVB offers a detailed itinerary for wine and food lovers alike. Recommendations for lodging, where to dine for some of the best, fresh foods, and of course wine tasting.

Below are is just snapshot of Friday -

1PM - Arrive early and pick from a myriad of inns, hotels or lodges for your first night's stay (Country Garden Inns is located within walking distance of Carmel Valley Village and known for their tasty breakfast buffet. They also are running a Wine Escape special - room rates are only $165 per person and your stay includes dinner and wine tasting tickets. Click here to view special ).

2 PM - Once your settled with accommodations, go on a horseback ride at Holman Ranch.

6PM -  End the night with dinner reservations at the "Dining Room" which features French cuisine with a California twist that highlights locally grown ingredients, and is the perfect spot for a memorable dinner.

Click here for the full three day itinerary.

Oregon Odyssey: To Do List - Portland & Willamette

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lux4.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Visitors to Oregon will note right away that things are done differently here. Shop clerks linger and chat while packaging up your goods, traffic moves more slowly and the pace of life seems firmly dialed to the "enjoy the journey" station. This enticingly mellow pace of life, coupled with Oregon's outstanding natural beauty and prolific food and wine culture, make it an ideal destination for foodies, outdoor adventurers and anyone looking to take things down a few notches. Read on for some of our top picks for activities to indulge in chez Portland and beyond, in the storied haunts of the Willamette.

Oregon Itinerary: Willamette North Valley

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pinotbarrels.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Stop 1: Adelsheim Vineyard

A Willamette tour wouldn't be complete without a visit to well-known Adelsheim Vineyard, which boasts stellar views of the Chehalem Mountains from its newly refurbished tasting room just outside Newberg. Founded in 1971, the winery is run by the affable David Adelsheim, a Willamette wine pioneer whose passion for the area and its world-class Pinots runs deep. It's worth going just to taste the winery's nuanced single-vineyard Pinots - the Ribbon Springs Vineyard ($68) is a standout - though Adelsheim's Willamette Valley-classified bottling ($32) is easier on the wallet and does a better job capturing the full scope of the region's signature aromas, flavors and silky texture.

Tasting Room: 16800 NE Calkins Lane, Newberg, OR 97132. Open daily 11am-4pm (tel) (503) 538-3652
Tasting Fee: $15 for 6 wines
Watch My Video of David Adelsheim at the winery

Tip: Take a picnic lunch and enjoy it on Adelsheim's spacious outdoor patio (bottle purchase will be appreciated as a courtesy for using the space). There are no other lunch options in the immediate area, and you'll want to make sure to refuel in the midst of a full day of tasting.

Wine Country Itinerary: Willamette South Valley

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ribbonRidge.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Visitors to Oregon's wonderfully Pinot-centric Willamette Valley will do well to split their tasting excursion into at least two days, as the area's wide open spaces create not only lovely panoramic views but also drives of some distance between wineries. Thus, this itinerary starts in the centrally situated Dundee Hills and meanders from there to the nearby towns of Carlton and McMinnville. Along the way, you'll visit one of the region's best-known (not to mention physically striking) wineries in Domaine Drouhin Oregon, a start-up venture in Scott Paul Wines and the birthplace of Willamette wine in The Eyrie Vineyards. In all, it's a fabulously diverse lineup where Oregon winemaking is concerned - and one just waiting for you to savor.

For more on wineries further north, check out our North Valley itinerary.

Oregon Odyssey

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oregon_wine_country.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Oregon's famed Willamette Valley - a wonderfully bucolic spot an hour's easy drive from Portland - may just be the anti-Napa Valley. You won't find any medieval castles or Persian Palaces here, though you WILL find no shortage of ridiculously good wine, an incredibly warm people and a far slower pace of life than that in bustling California. So slow down (literally, the police ticket a lot around these parts), take your time and prepare to be awed by the natural beauty of your surroundings, the superb quality of the wines and the kindness of the people serving them. It's not exactly wine country in slow motion, but it's not far off.

And given the hectic pace of our lives these days, this can be a very good thing.

See, Taste, Eat and Sleep!
Portland & Willamette Valley To Do List

Wine Tasting & Itineraries
Top 10 Willamette Wines
Willamette Itinerary: North Valley
Willamette Itinerary: South Valley




Itinearary: Golf Swingin' in Monterey

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montereyGolf.jpgIt doesn't take a rocket scientist to know why Monterey ranks as one of the top golf destinations in the world. It's home to Pebble Beach and is a favorite for the U.S. Open Championship. In fact, it will be hosting the championship a fifth time in a row in 2010.

But with so many golf courses to choose from, let alone figuring out lodging and dining if you are planning a weekend getaway, where does one begin?

No worries. Monterey County CVB has it all worked out for you with a golf weekend itinerary. Each day by hour is completely detailed out for you. For full itinerary, CLICK HERE.

Monterey.Winecountry.com is your resource for more lodging and dining choices. And of course if you are traveling with the Mrs. or family in tow, be sure to check out other activities for them to do while you are golfing!


A Family Vacation Spot For Less

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Grab the kids, gas up the car and head to Tri-Valley, California for an affordable and family-friendly vacation. Tri-Valley, California, is rich in family-friendly attractions and is an affordable, charming and unspoiled destination where families are welcomed to experience the beauties and highlights of the San Francisco Bay Area. While many visitors make Tri-Valley their "home base" while exploring the more touristy San Francisco spots, there is actually quite a bit to see right here in the Tri-Valley.

LEARN: Day One, 8 a.m. - Lasers!
Start the day with a visit to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Discovery Center which provides visitors with a window into its state-of-the-art research programs, computational capabilities, and experimental tools. Here kids can experience a broad-based display of science and technology, as well as highlights of the Laboratory's history. After learning about the science, take the kids to play a round of laser tag at Boomers.

A Local's Guide to Tri-Valley, California

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niles_railway.jpgWarm spring weather and affordable hotel rates make Tri-Valley, California the perfect getaway.  Armed with these local secrets, visitors are sure to have a fantastic experience.

SEE: Ride the Train to Old Hollywood, Sunol, California
Restored vintage trains make an hour long excursion through fields of poppies, lupine and wild mustard, traveling part of the first transcontinental railroad's route during the spring. The trains operate year long out of Niles Canyon Railway's Sunol Depot. Occasionally afternoon departures include wine tasting with local vintners.
Train run on Sundays only, check the website for schedules.

Insider Tip: Catch the early train in Sunol and ride to Niles. Once you arrive in Niles, jump on the vintage bus to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum for a peek at the memorabilia from a bygone era in movie history. The museum is an homage to the silent films made in Niles in the early 1900's including Charlie Chaplin's famous film, "The Tramp."

Niles Canyon Railway
6 Kilkare Road, Sunol, CA
(925) 862-9063
www.ncry.org

Niles Essanay Film Musuem
37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA
(510) 494-1411
www.nilesfilmmuseum.org

Wine Country Day Trip for Under $20

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Livermore_Valley Wine Trail-med.jpgSubmitted by the Tri-Valley, California  Convention & Visitors Bureau

Start your day in Pleasanton, CA at the farmers market on Main & Angela Street (Saturdays, 9 am - 1 pm). Browse the vendors and sample fresh fruit and specialty foods. Afterwards, take a stroll along Main street to check out the wonderful art galleries, shops and more.

For a special treat, stop at the Meadowlark Dairy, the only drive-through dairy for a soft serve ice cream cone.  It is only $1.75 for a small ice cream cone.

Then, Head to Tommie's Deli and Sandwich Shop on 2nd Street in Livermore and order the Lite-n-Tasty, a small sandwich with (Bread/meat (4.oz.)/cheese & stuff) for only $6. Armed with your sandwich and maybe a piece of fruit from Pleasanton's farmers market, you are ready to hit the wineries for complimentary wine tasting!

Wine Country Itinerary: Monterey County

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Peninsula Tasting and Carmel Valley Village

As you approach the turnoff for the Monterey Peninsula on Highway 1, consider an easy stop at Ventana Vineyards, located close to the intersections of Highways 68 & 218.  One of the pioneering stars of the area, Ventana's wines are estate grown, offering high quality and excellent value.  There are a wide variety of whites, reds and dessert choices to enjoy. Check out the spectacular Super Tuscan Sangiovese blend Due Amici, a recent "Best of Class" winner. You will also find some excellent Meador Estate Wines here.

Itinerary: Midweek Monterey Getaway

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montereyMidweekItinerary.jpgSometimes you only have enough energy to buy the tickets (if you're not local), book the hotel and maybe read about all the things you want to do on your wine country trip. By the time the official day arrives for vacation, you've run out of planning time and isn't vacation about relaxing anyways! Maybe you didn't want to spend hours upon hours figuring out all the activities. Monterey CVB alleviates the planning stress and gives visitors a hour-by-hour itinerary. Even better, they suggest you play hooky and take a break during the week.

Three Day Itinerary
Monterey Multimedia Gallery

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