Harvest is right around the corner. This year, instead of spending your fall weekend just wine-tasting, why not get down and dirty by making some wine the old-fashioned way? Several Napa Valley wineries offer experiences to truly write home about – from “a day in the life” of harvest to making your own custom blend to stomping the grapes with your feet Lucy- and Ethyl-style (don’t forget your selfie sticks!). Most of these experiences are by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.
Round Pond Estate features a two-hour “Hands-On Harvest Experience” that includes a complete winery tour, wine-making, barrel tasting, and intimate wine-tasting with a seasonal food pairing. August 17 through October 31, $95/person. Round Pond also offers “A Day in the Life” – a full day with winemaker Muiris Griffin, from the vineyard to the winery to the barrel room, a guided tasting of olive oils, and an artisanal al fresco lunch paired with estate wines. Sunday, October 18, 9 am to 3 pm, $200/ person for members, $250/person non-members.
Grgich Hills founder and Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Mike Grgich grew up in Croatia stomping wine with his feet, and now you can, too. After stomping and enjoying a flight of three wines, you’ll take home a souvenir T-shirt with your own footprints. From start of harvest until Halloween. $30/person.
Villa Ragazzi is an intimate, artisanal producer of Sangiovese in Oakville. Guests are invited to do a vineyard tour, tasting of Sangiovese and Cabernet, and custom-blending of super-Tuscan wines with owners Michaela and Gregory Rodeno. It can take an hour or longer, depending on the size and interest of the group. Because this is a small, family-run operation, there is no tasting fee, but of course they hope the experience will encourage you to buy a few bottles.
Rutherford Hill Winery hosts a “Blend Your Own Merlot” program that can be booked anytime for groups of ten or more, or on Fridays and Sundays from 11 am to 1 pm for individuals. $85/person for wine club members; $150/person for the general public.
Raymond Vineyards offers a 90-minute experience that allows you to be a “Winemaker for a Day.” Guests create three different blends each in order to find their preferred alchemy of four different varietals. Once they select their favorite blend, they bottle, cork, foil, and affix their personally designed label onto the bottle. $100/person or $80/person for club members.
Judd’s Hill Winery features a Bottle Blending Day Camp™ in which you’ll be led through a personal tasting, education, and blending session as you choose your perfect Bordeaux-style blend from four barrel samples. After selecting your favored cuveé you’ll bottle, label, and foil your bottle before taking home your personally crafted wine. Group pricing starts at $95/person.
Find other harvest 2015 events here.
Photo credit: Bob McClenahan