This September, during California’s wine month, there are wine activities for every kind of drinker. Even better, several packages are discounted all month long meaning tours for every budget. So pick up your glass and relax.
It may seem like you’ve been magically transported to Africa but you’re still in Santa Rosa. You get a night in a luxury safari tent, a three-hour safari tour, dinner in the Savannah Café (keep your eyes peeled for the safari’s lemur couple) and a private wine tasting at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The cost for two adults is usually US$550 but for the month of September, take 10 per cent off.
Start off with a four-course dinner for two at the Aubergine in Carmel-by-the-Sea (even the location sounds yummy!) with wine pairings and a private wine tasting with sommelier Thomas Perez. He will choose three wines especially for you to include in a wine gift box. This package also includes a one night stay at L’Auberge Carmel in a king guest room—after all that deliciousness you won’t be able to move. Until the next morning, that is, when you feast on an Aubergine’s signature breakfast. Prices per couple are US$1,045 for mid-week and US$1,095 on weekends.
There’s so much to do and see on this jeep tour of the Santa Barbara wine country. Bump past lakes, oceans, the Santa Ynez Mountain range, the former Reagan Ranch, dirt trails, shaded canyons. With door-to-door service, these local tour guides take you to four wineries for tastings and a picnic lunch. Don’t forget your sunscreen and your Indiana Jones-style hat. These 4.5-6.5 hour tours cost US$129 per person.
What’s more romantic than a Jacuzzi, a fireplace and a bottle of award-winning wine in your luxury deluxe villa? The one night stay at the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa also comes with two passport tickets to five Temecula Valley wineries, two wine tasting flights and discount booklets. It’s only US$239 per couple when you call 951-587-9463 and request the Sip and Stay package.
The best part of wine making? Getting to stomp your own grapes, of course! At Crush Encounter you pick grapes, crush them by hand, take a break for a delicious lunch and then stomp and bottle your own wine. After sampling your creation there is also music and dancing. Meet the growers and viticulturists of Paso Robles while saving 10 per cent off their one, two and three day programs. Prices start at US$229.50 when you register with the CAWINE11 promo code.
Don’t know anything about the acidity of wine? At the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville you don’t have to. Their Wine & Music tour is more about how the wine makes you feel. As you sample three different wines the sommelier plays music clips with the guest choosing which best suits the wine. Afterwards you may even be able to catch a performance at their open-air concert hall. This tour is a steal at US$30 per person.
This luxury van tour is semi-customizable and perfect for those who want to experience a little of everything. You can include all of Napa Valley, all of Sonoma Valley or a bit of both. Request your favourite wineries or sit back and be surprised at the 4-6 boutique wineries that are chosen for you. The tour is now only US$99 per person down from US$140, although wine tasting fees are not included. To receive the massive 25 per cent discount mention California Wine Month when booking over the phone at 1-866-231-3752.
For a bevy of other wine adventures and deals check out the official wine month page.
Sarah Brightman on tour
Sarah Brightman has topped the charts and sold 30 million albums worldwide with her brand of classical crossover pop. The songstress has recently been in the news for her latest endeavor, tackling space.
Brightman, 52, has dropped a staggering $31 million for her part in the three-person team heading to the International Space Station for eight days in 2015.
Sip on sustainable wine from Romeo cherries at Living Sky Winery
Don’t let their backgrounds fool you: the minds behind Living Sky Winery have perfected the art of locally sustainable wine. Run by Sue Echlin (a political science major) and her husband, Vance Lester (a duck ecologist), the small operation produces fruit wines made with everything from locally grown strawberries to black currants. The couple also grows their own Romeo cherries on their estate just outside Perdue, Sask. (about 55 km west of Saskatoon).