Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taking a Winery Tour

If you have never taken a tour of a winery, I recommend doing so when you visit wine country. Most of the tours focus on the winemaking process; although, a few focus on other areas such as biodynamic farming and the history of the winery. Once you have done one tour, you are probably set for life unless you are really into making wine. After all, one can only see so many stainless steel fermentation tanks and oak barrels.

Many wineries do not offer tours. Still more offer tours only by appointment. If you arrive in the Napa or Sonoma Valleys or Carneros without having scheduled a tour, here are a few options for you:

Sonoma Valley:

Benziger offers one of the more unique wine country tours. You can visit their biodynamic vineyards in a tractor-pulled tram and then walk through their production facilities. The schedule varies, but tours are usually offered hourly if not more frequently. The tour lasts about one hour and includes tasting some of their wines.

Sebastiani's Historical Tour covers the history of Sebastiani as well as the winemaking process. Tours are usually offered at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00; however, they may be cancelled due to special events so call before you arrive to make sure the tour is being offered. The tour lasts 40 minutes.

Carneros:

Artesa provides free tours of their production facilities at 11:00 and 2:00. There is no charge for the 45 minute tour.

Napa Valley:

Mondavi offers hourly tours that include tastes of some of their current releases. The tour is advertised as 75 minutes in length but frequently takes longer. During the summer and fall, more frequent tours may be offered. Children are allowed only on the noon tour.

Rutherford Hill's tours include a visit to their caves and tastings of some of their current releases. Tours are offered at 11:30, 1:30, and 3:30. During the busy summer and fall seasons, arrive early to make sure you get a ticket.

Mumm Napa has free hourly tours of their production facilities and photography gallery. You can just show up at the winery a few minutes before the start of the tour.

Beringer offers an array of tours. Some tours require advance reservations. For other tours, you just buy a ticket when you arrive at the winery. Most focus on some aspect of the history of Beringer, the oldest continuously operated winery in the Napa Valley.

Other wineries offer quality tours. If you have taken one, post a comment. If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes a winery tour, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.


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