Top Wineries for Extra-Tasting Activities
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
Outdoorsy 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.
The 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!).
Grgich Hills Cellar
Visitors 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.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
The 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.
Ledson Vineyards & Winery
Visitors 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.
Mumm Napa Winery & Visitor's Center
By 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.
Visitors 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.
St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery
Self-guided 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.
Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
Designed 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.
This 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.
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