If you’ve never done it before, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one: Taking a guided vineyard tour in Sonoma County is one of the most interesting and enjoyable ways for a Northern Californian to spend his or her day off. The experience of tasting a wine while you’re standing in the middle of the vineyard it came from will make visiting crowded tasting rooms seem absurd in comparison. Combine this with a romantic stay at a local inn and farm-to-table Sonoma cuisine, and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable Wine Country getaway.
Bill’s Excellent Vineyard Adventures
One of the top Wine Country tours in California is at the Kunde Estate Winery in Kenwood. The Kunde (pronounced Kun-dee) family has been growing grapes here for five generations, and today they’re one of Sonoma County’s largest suppliers. For only $25 you can join Sonoma Valley Docent Bill Myers on a fun, casual, and up-close hike through the 1,850 acre Kunde Family Estate. It’s a great opportunity to see sustainable winegrowing practices at work while taking in some of Wine Country’s most spectacular scenery.
Bill’s tours wind through the Estate’s distinct eco-systems, each one uniquely contributing to the process of sustainable winegrowing. The tour conclude with a visit to the Tasting Room, where invigorated hikers can sample hand crafted wines from the very vineyards they explored. The tour lasts about four hours, and you’ll need to pack your own sack lunch, sunscreen, and water (hey, it’s only $25). For more information call 707/833-5501 or log onto www.kunde.com.
Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures
You’ll like the price: Free. That’s how much Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures charges for their self-guided hikes, available any day the winery is open and without advance notice. On any given day—and with no advance reservation—you can take self-guided vineyard tours at four participating wineries in Sonoma County: Matanzas Creek Winery (one of my favorites), Paradise Ridge Winery, Balletto Vineyards and Mauritson Winery.
Along the way, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the grape-growing process and, afterwards in the tasting room, you can sample wines created from the grapes in the vineyards you just explored. Each tour is less than a mile in length, and guests receive a detailed guide of each vineyard with points of interest that are clearly marked along the route. For more information call 707/522-5860 or visit www.sonomavineyardadventures.com.
Dog-Friendly Vineyard Walks
One of the most deluxe and romantic vineyard tours is run by an outfit called Zephyr Adventures, which hosts Sonoma Vineyards Walks. For $125 per person (minimum group size is two), you get own professional guide for the day who takes you on two vineyard walks of your choice, and inside access to private vineyard lands and people you would otherwise never see or meet. Also included are two wine tastings and lunch at the famous Dry Creek General Store. With advance notice can also bring your well-behaved dog to most wineries.
By the end of the tour you’ll not only learn about wine making, grape growing, and the history of the vineyards from your own personal guide, you’ll also be intimately familiar with some of the finest wines in Sonoma County. Log on to www.sonomavineyardwalks.com to read more about the four wineries they offer tours to, then pick the two that look the most interesting (this tour also makes a great gift).
Vineyard tours are just a fraction of the fun, romantic, and family-friendly things to do in Sonoma County. For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call 800/576-6662.
And if you have your own tips and recommendations on vineyard tours in California that you’d like to share, feel free to add your own comments to our blog below. We’d love to hear from you.