These spots serve up unique alternatives to the typical tasting experience.
by Courtney Cochran
Why just sniff and swirl when you can stomp, tour, and take in some art, too? In an effort to offer visitors more than the run-of-the-mill tasting room experience, many wineries are serving up unique alternatives. Read on for the details on how you can take a high-altitude jeep tour, commandeer your very own bocce ball court, or even stomp some grapes during crush.
Because cookie cutter visits are so last year.
Byington Vineyard & Winery
folks will be thrilled with Byington's Bocce Ball Court, use of which
is complimentary to tasters. The Santa Cruz Mountains winery also
furnishes picnic tables, umbrellas, and access to a BBQ, although
you've got to bring your own grill tools, fyi.
21850 Bear Creek Rd., Los Gatos, CA 95033 *
(408) 354-1111 * byington.com
energetic owners of this breathtaking winery atop Diamond Mountain
offer jeep tours of their estate vineyards located on the Napa/Sonoma
County line. By appointment only (and absolutely worth it!).
2121 Diamond Mountain Rd., Calistoga, CA 94515 *
(707) 942-0707 * constantwine.com
Grgich Hills Cellar
to this famous Napa Valley producer are invited to kick off their shoes
and stomp grapes during crush. Participants get an "I stomped at Grgich
Hills" pin and bragging rights back home.
1829 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573 *
(707) 532-3057 * grgich.com
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
spirited folks at this venerable Sonoma winery offer daily cave tours
(reservations required for large groups). Tours culminate in an
in-depth, seated presentation of Gundlach Bundschu Estate Wines in the
spot's dramatic underground dining room.
2000 Denmark St., Sonoma, CA 95476 *
(707) 939-3015 * gunbun.com
Ledson Vineyards & Winery
to the impressive ex-residence known to locals as "the castle" can
enjoy a memorable lunch après-tasting on the estate's rolling grounds.
Grab some items from the spot's on-premise gourmet eatery and gift
shop, and you're good to go.
7335 Sonoma Hwy (Hwy 12), Kenwood CA 95409 *
(707) 537-3810 * ledson.com
Mumm Napa Winery & Visitor's Center
far one of the most relaxing tasting experiences in the Napa Valley,
Mumm Napa offers table service to tasters on its outdoor terrace with
sweeping views of the valley. Afterwards, stroll through the art
gallery to take in Mumm's striking photography exhibit.
8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94573 *
(707) 967-7700 * mummnapa.com
to this spectacular, Mediterranean-style winery get there via aerial
tram, which offers sweeping views of Napa Valley. The $15 ride is one
of the most talked-about excursions in the area, and culminates in the
winery's panoramic tasting room.
1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515 *
(707) 942-3344 * sterlingvineyards.com
St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery
and guided tours showcase this Napa winery's dynamic collection of
artwork, "wine 101" exhibits and interactive smelling stations. Those
with extra time will enjoy a walking tour of the historic home on the
grounds, as well.
8440 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573 *
(707) 963-4507 * stsupery.com
Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
in the style of a Provencal country house, this lovely spot just north
of Santa Barbara features one of the only underground tasting
experiences in the area. Peek inside the operation's barrel caves while
enjoying award-winning organically produced wines.
125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, CA 93460 *
(805) 688-9463 * sunstonewinery.com
Central Coast producer of award-winning Rhone-style wines offers
extensive vineyard tours that culminate in a vine-grafting
demonstration at the spot's on-premise nursery. Nearby restaurants are
sparse, so bringing a picnic lunch is recommended.
9339 Adelaida Road * Paso Robles, CA 93446 *
(805) 237-1231 * tablascreek.com