When you think of a winery visit, perhaps your mind goes to scenic terraces overlooking rows of grape vines, cheese-laden charcuterie boards, and of course, swirling and sampling some terrific wines. Sure, in most places, that’s exactly what you’ll encounter.
However, there are more than a handful of wineries across the United States that go far beyond the typical tastings of red, white, rose, and bubbly. From visits with fine-feathered friends to tree-top adventures, here are nine winery experiences that are truly over-the-top.
1. Bouchaine Vineyards
Located in the very southern tip of Napa Valley, Bouchaine’s vines were planted back in the 1880s. Today, the winery boasts a beautiful tasting room made from reclaimed cypress slabs and is known for its delicious pinot noirs and chardonnays. The best part: Bouchaine’s gone to the birds, quite literally. The winery utilizes a falconer as part of its integrated — and sustainable — pest management to keep critters and pests far from the previous grapes. Guests get to witness the vines’ protectors in action at Bouchaine with its “Falconry in the Garden” program. A master falconer is on site for demonstrations for small groups and is available for private events. Sipping a glass and watching the raptors in action is truly a winery experience like no other!
2. Alma Rosa Winery
If you want to get your steps in while sipping, Alma Rosa Winery has got you covered. The estate spans 628 acres in northern Santa Barbara County, with a rugged mountain terrain and gorgeous views of the St. Rita Hills. The winery’s featured Caracol Hike is approximately 1 mile and features a steep climb up to the winery’s iconic Caracol vineyard block — where pinot noir vines radiate out 360 degrees like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Guests have the chance to taste wine at the base of the hill as they enjoy a stunning view of the valley, followed by another sip or two at the top of the Caracol. The experience concludes at the winery’s historic Ranch House with a locally-sourced cheese plate to complement the additional wine offerings.
3. Ram’s Gate Winery
If you’re looking to work in some wellness during your wine-tasting experience, check out Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma. They host an onsite summer yoga series unlike any other. Held alongside the winery’s willow-lined pond and surrounding vineyards, guests are guided by a yogini to make the body-mind-spirit connection through the moving flow of vinyasa. Classes also focus on specific postures and poses that build core strength and flexibility. After the class, guests may enjoy a glass of Ram’s Gate’s popular summer wines, plus light, fresh bites created by the winery’s executive chef using locally sourced ingredients. Namaste!
4. Brooks Wine PDX
Carefully crafted chocolates and fine wines are always a terrific pairing, and in Portland, Brooks Wine PDX is the place to go to get your sweet-tooth fix in during a tasting. The second location of a Brooks Winery, is the city’s only dedicated chocolate and wine tasting room, providing
guests something truly special.
Located in the Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory, the café brings chocolate and wine together in pairings that run the gamut from savory to sweet. The set-up is flexible, too: wine flights, by-the-glass, and bottles are available from a selection of a dozen Brooks wines. And it’s wine you can feel good about drinking: Brooks is the first winery in the world to hold all three social and environmental sustainability commitments of a B-Corp certification, Demeter certification, and 1% for the Planet membership.
Especially delicious are the enfleurage chocolates. These individual nibs or discs are stored in glass and rest on various aromatics infused with subtle flavor. Don’t sleep on the wine club here, either: each month, you will receive a different bottle of Brooks wine, expertly paired with Woodblock chocolate. Yum!
5. Veritas And Keswick Vineyards
Albemarle County, Virginia
Virginia is one of the country’s top wine-producing states — with more than 40 wineries in the Charlottesville area alone. One of the best ways to explore the area’s historic viticulture is to saddle up with Indian Summer Guide Service. The outfitter’s private, guided horseback rides through the vines allow guests to get to know the grapes and production process while getting an up-close look at the Virginia terroir that results in world-class wine. The experiences are suitable for riders of all levels and available at several wineries in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County area, including Veritas Vineyard and Keswick Vineyards. Rides are offered year-round, weather permitting.
6. Vivác Winery
Dixon, New Mexico
Vivác is a mountaineering term meaning “high-altitude refuge,” and that’s exactly what guests can expect at this lovely, remote spot north of Santa Fe. At 6,000 feet, it’s one of the highest-altitude wineries in the world. Vivác offers visitors all sorts of fun activities in addition to delicious wines. During picking parties, guests get hands-on experience in the vineyards as they spend the morning harvesting grapes with the winemakers. After the hard work is done, the celebration begins on the private patio with a four-course wine lunch paired with Vivác wines. The day finishes with a tour of the winery and guests receive a “thank you” gift bottle of wine to take home with them.
7. Sandy Road Vineyards
Johnson City, Texas
At Sandy Road Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country, you’ll be able to sample wines from a treetop! That’s right, during this experience, you and your party will be guided through a private tasting by one of Sandy Road’s winemakers, while enjoying a bird’s eye view of the vines from a custom-built, 15-foot-high treehouse. During the hour-long event, guests learn more about the entire winemaking process, from grape to bottle, tasting half a dozen wines paired with a charcuterie plate. And make no mistake, these wines go beyond what you’d typically expect. Sandy Road is renowned for its pet nat — a light, sparkly, and naturally carbonated blend of 90 percent grenache and 10 percent prieto picudo grapes. It’s a delightful break from the norm and the perfect summer sip.
8. Page Springs Cellars
Page Springs Cellars, located in Arizona’s high desert, grows grapes associated with the Southern Rhône region of France: syrah, petite syrah, grenache, viognier, and roussanne. Their French-inspired vintages are small-batch and sustainably produced. In addition to tours and tastings, where guests may enjoy young wine pulled directly from the barrel via thief, Page Springs also focuses on wellness with a variety of offerings. The most soothing is an outdoor massage session alongside the vines. There are even special packages for couples visiting the vineyard that combine a massage, tasting, and a perfect picnic for two. Ohm, indeed!
9. Vin Fraîche Wine Group
Many of us love to pair up wine with cheese. For an over-the-top tasting experience in Napa that truly pays homage to fromage, head to the Vin Fraîche Wine Group’s cheese shed. Located in the Coombsville vineyards in the eastern hills of Napa Valley, this unique space was originally run by a farm family to age their meats and cheeses. Today, it’s the perfect and very private setting to taste the group’s wines. Guests are welcomed with a glass of wine, then treated to golf-cart tours of the vineyards and the on-site caves where the vintages are made. Then, it’s back to the rustic but elegant shed where visitors will taste wines from the entire Vin Fraîche portfolio, which includes four wineries featuring vintages with grapes sourced in California, Oregon, and Italy.
For more of the best wine experiences around the world: