Wine tasting tours are a rite of spring, summer and fall in California wine country — but your shouldn’t drink and drive. Here are three interesting alternatives:
In the Northern California region promoted as Shasta Cascade, Air Shasta now offers wine tasting at Anselmo Vineyards by helicopter. It’s a two-hour excursion — a 30-minute chopper ride each way and one hour at the vineyards, which is also a working cattle ranch. On weekends, the vineyard also offers full meals from locally grown and produced products, but with just one hour on the ground, you’ll have to either drink fast, eat fast, or both. The helicopter wine tour is $295 for two people.
There are more than 200 tasting rooms in the Paso Robles wine region of Central California. You won’t be able to get to all of them by Jeep, but you most certainly can get a taste by hopping aboard Cloud Climbers Jeep Wine Tours. The tours are either in seven-passenger Jeep Wranglers or in classic Jeep “Scramblers”, and both are steered by professional driver/guides. The Jeep wine tour program is offered by Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles.
This wine tasting tour does not involve either helicopters or Jeeps, but it does include cupcakes. In the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Barbara Adventure Company paired wine and cupcakes into something called Sign up for The Tasty Cupcake & Wine Tour to taste learn the difference between a pinot blanc and a pinot gris, as on a typical wine tour. The icing on the cake is a stop at Enjoy Cupcakes in Solvang, where guests sample miniature wine-infused cupcakes such as Pomegranate Mango Chardonnay and Chocolate Blackberry Syrah. The cupcake and wine tour is available Thursday through Sunday. An introductory price of $125 per person includes wine tasting fees at three locations, cupcake tasting, shuttle service, deli lunch and a knowledgeable guide.
Three California wine tasting tours — and none of them require you to drive yourself, because drinking and driving is a deadly combination.