Pick grapes, make wine: Sonoma vineyards in California wine country

Sonoma grape camp

Photo: sonomagrapecamp.com

It’s definitely a sideways look at some of the best vineyards in Sonoma County, in California’s wine country. It might even be the best kind of wine vacation possible. It’s the Sonoma County Grape Camp in September 2017.

Most people who enjoy their wine just buy it in the stores, maybe buy a special bottle when eating out, or go touring vineyards when on vacation. Buying wine from the vineyard and seeing how the wine is made is something special, a unique wine experience. But not many people have the chance to try their hand at making wine for themselves, and that’s possible at the Sonoma County Grape Camp.

The Grape Camp is about a hands-on experience. Visitors to the Grape Camp will learn how to examine and cut the grapes, out there in the rows of vines with a grape-knife in hand. The Grape Camp takes place over three days in September 2017, when the wine harvest is in full swing in the Sonoma vineyards. It gives participants a chance to learn the secrets of wine-making from some of the master winemakers of Sonoma County.

Grape Camp is about much more than that, too. Wine lovers have a chance to learn about the DNA of wine, and about how to match wine with food. By the banks of Sonoma County’s Russian River, guests at the Grape Camp will meet fellow wine lovers, and share meals with them as everyone explores new wine and enjoys warm California nights.

The Sonoma County Grape Camp is based at the four-star luxury Vintners Inn, just 60 miles north of San Francisco and which has its own 92-acre vineyard. Its John Ash & Co restaurant gained an Award of Unique Distinction from Wine Enthusiast. Check out their website by clicking here.

The Grape Camp begins on a Monday night with a grand welcome dinner at the Hoot Owl Vineyard in the Alexander Valley. Next morning it’s down to the hard work of cutting the grapes, followed by the less arduous work of tasting the grape juice under the expert guidance of winemaker Terry Adams, so even at this early stage in the process wine lovers know what they’re looking for. After lunch there’s relaxation with some croquet, then a food and wine workshop and a paella feast back at the Vintners Inn.

On the third day it’s another vineyard visit to learn more about the grape-growing and wine harvest, then a chance to learn about blending wine at the fabulous Ferrari-Carano vineyard, followed by lunch there. In the afternoon it’s learning about cheese-making at Redwood Hill Farm, Sonoma, with a wine and cheese pairing session.

The Sonoma Grape Camp winds down with, what else, more wine at an optional celebration dinner at the Vintners Inn, with some of the local winemakers as special guests to make sure the meal is educational as well as great fun.