If you’re tired of the standard wine tasting, or if you have kids or other folks in your group who don’t drink, or if you’re just a super fun person who loves to multitask – there are more options than ever for winery activities beyond just sipping and spitting. Here are a few for your consideration.
Celebrate Mother Nature. Raymond Vineyards’ Theater of Nature is the Napa Valley’s largest educational exhibit on Biodynamic farming. Like a theatrical performance, the experience is divided into five acts, each of which is devoted to a single component of nature. The “actors” each play a critical role in the crafting of great wines, from the soil to the vineyardist to larger forces like the lunar cycle. It’s a great way to romp outdoors before or after your tasting.
Sample la dolce vita. At Liana Estates, you can indulge your sweet tooth with a wine and cupcake pairing. Four mini-cupcakes from local Kara’s Cupcakes complement four Liana wines – a perfect birthday, girls’ getaway, or romantic celebration.
Go four-wheelin’. Calistoga Boutique winery Jericho Canyon Vineyards has a labyrinth of caves, tiered vineyards, and a “watchdog” named Molly. For the vineyard tour, they’ll take you around on an ATV. By appointment only.
Experience mind-blowing art. Hall Wines is known not just for its 90+ rated Cabernets, but for its extraordinary exhibit showcasing the work of more than 25 established artists both in its tasting room and around the grounds. Grab a glass of something delicious and wander about, viewing the multimedia pieces from different angles.
Sip, shop, and savor. Brasswood Estate is an actual campus of shops, restaurants, and tasting options. Its “sensory tasting” is a uniquely interactive experience – a guided tasting that demonstrates the many complexities of wine using all the senses and paired with artisanal cheeses.
Get creative in the kitchen. At Peju Province winery, you can participate in a hands-on culinary experience to create a delicious group meal. Pick vegetables and herbs from the organic garden, then learn the tricks of the trade for making a delicious farm-to-table, wine-country-inspired meal.
Throw a “quattro formaggio.” If you want to get a glimpse of what the Napa Valley was like a century ago, drive up to Nichelini Winery in Pope Valley, the longest family winery in continuous operation since 1890. A member of the Nichelini family is usually on hand to conduct tastings and, weather permitting, it’s done outside under an old Roman Press (used by the family until the 1950s). They welcome picnicking and, best of all, there’s a classic bocce court, where you can try your hand at the only sport that can be done while holding a glass of wine.
Host a pizza party al fresco. From July through October, Charles Krug Winery fires up its Mugnaini wood-burning pizza oven. Order a bottle of Krug reserve wine and enjoy some authentic Italian pizza made with herbs and vegetables from the estate garden and selected meats from its Salumeria.
Cover photo credit: Visit Calistoga