Wineries have always attracted wine lovers for tours and tastings, but some people now want to get closer to the action. In fact, some people aren’t content to gaze out on the vineyard 10 feet away, but want to work in the winery. It’s sort of like being an extra in a movie in order to be on the set and mingle with the cast.
You don’t have to settle for just a glass of wine and a tour of the vineyard, because in many of the world’s wine regions, Inns and B&Bs are now providing lodging within the actual winery. And when you stay on the winery grounds, you have the additional advantage that you don’t need to drink and drive.
These new wine experiences are popping up all over. For example, the Rust Ridge Ranch Winery in Napa Valley, CA, will let you lend a hand when the winery harvests its grapes in early fall. Since wineries work round the clock during the “crush” you can even turn your visit into a fun-filled all-nighter! Their folksy salesman on the website is their beloved dog “Tosca,” who tells you, “Welcome to our Web Site. When you arrive at our B&B we will greet your car personally. We spend a lot of time at the winery during harvest. The grapes taste very sweet and even the horses like to eat them. The B&B is a fun place to hang out. In the mornings and afternoons we take our guests on walks to visit the horses, over to the winery, up the trail to our swimming ponds and out in the vineyard. Sometimes the guests play tennis or relax in the Jacuzzi. In the warm summer evenings they sit out on the deck and sip wine. Please come and visit!”
If you want to have another “crushing” experience, drive near the Sierra Mountains and stay at the Fitzpatrick Winery . The B&B is a massive log lodge with the winery in the basement and they offer their guests a Irish country theme. The inn serves a full Irish breakfast, free Irish beers and a traditional ploughman’s lunch.
Another move toward de’vine vacations are places that enhance the overall pleasure of your experience. Imagine yourself perched above the vineyards of the Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District at the Poetry Inn of Clif Lede Vineyards. This luxurious inn offers all of the sensory pleasures of the wine country, with suites that boast of wood-burning fireplaces, sanctuary-like marble bathrooms with soaking tubs for two, and large, private balconies with outdoor showers. Kick off the day with a breakfast of Brie-and-strawberry-stuffed French toast at a table overlooking the vineyards.” Travel & Leisure magazine said it’s “…one of the most tranquil spaces in the buzzing Napa Valley.
In the Carmel Valley you can stay at the Bernardus Winery, another luxury resort with an epicurean flair. Enjoy the gracious intimacy of one of five deluxe suites with feather beds, cozy fireplaces and oversized bathtubs for two. Their spa has a meditation garden, a warming room and a soaking pool.
And of course, not all the wine lodging is in California. At the Keuka Overlook Inn in New York’s Finger Lakes region, you can watch wine being made and enjoy night time tastings with the winemaker. The winery is located on one of the highest hillsides in the Finger Lakes with sweeping views of pristine Keuka and Waneta Lakes. The Inn is a Victorian Farmhouse originally constructed in 1896, and most rooms have incredible lake views and you can enjoy the lake breezes from a swing on their wrap around country porch as you sip wine and enjoy the sunset.
A good glass of wine is still one of the simple pleasures in life, and now it can be enjoyed even more by experiencing the good life of where wine comes from.
So make plans for taking a de’vine vacation sometime in the near future. And when your there, raise a toast with me, “To The Good Wine Makers Everywhere!”