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A California Wine Valley Tour Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

When planning our itinerary for a recent trip to the Californian wine valleys we decided that as well as visiting the popular vineyards of well known wine producers such as Beringer, we would like to visit some of the smaller, more local vineyards in the area of Russian River, where we were staying.

Anyone who has been on a tour of vineyards or wineries will know that the wine tasting is all part of the fun and not something to be recommended if you are driving, so we took to the Internet to research wine valley tours. There were several companies offering wine valley tours in Sonoma and Napa but when it came to looking at Russian River in particular we quickly narrowed it down to just two and made our choice based on the fact that one in particular, seemed to offer smaller, more personalised tours which, depending on demand might involve only ourselves and our guide.

We made a tentative inquiry to our preferred company and were promptly replied to with the following; 'Our tours are a lot of fun and quite informative. Our guides have many years of experience conducting tours. At the end of the day you will taste a wide variety and style of wine and increase your knowledge on growing grapes and making wine. We pick you up at your wine country hotel at 10 and have you back by 4. You will visit 5 small family owned wineries that produce wonderful hand-crafted wines, are in beautiful settings that are generally less crowded and have staff anxious to tell you all about the wines and what they do to produce them. We also provide a great hand made picnic lunch consisting of local bread, cheese, meats and olives with insalada caprese and a cheese tort served on china with linen'

This sounded exactly what we were looking for, the cost was $135 pp including lunch and tasting fees and it sounded like the perfect day out. Further emails passed to and fro with more questions from ourselves and the tour was quickly finalised. We booked approximately 6 weeks in advance.

The day of our tour arrived, the weather started rather dull and it had obviously rained overnight. The weather was cooler here than in Yosemite ( where we had been for the previous 4 days) as it was near to the Northern California coast, in fact from our holiday home we could see the mouth of the Russian River as it wound its way down to the Pacific Ocean. Our guide arrived at the appointed time of 9. 30 ( a little earlier than advertised as we were staying a bit off the beaten track) in a comfortable 8 seater mini van which gave the four of us plenty of room to spread out. He was a lovely guy called Pete who used to be a bus driver, he hailed from New York but had moved to California 40 years ago and loved the Sonoma area.

As we began our trip he told us about the earthquake in Napa, some 30 miles away, which had occurred 2 nights previously, before we had arrived in the area. He lives in a mobile home on a Senior' s site and he said it was 3. 20 am when it started and it lasted between 15 and 20 seconds. Pete told us his home shook and his bed moved from side to side, the TV toppled over as did his corner cabinet there was, however, little damage to his home and only a couple of small things were broken in his cabinet. They then lost power until 8. 00 am. We were quite glad we had not yet arrived in the area when all this occurred and glad to hear that there were no fatalities.

He then went on to tell us about the days itinerary. The trip was to take in some of the smaller vineyards rather than those laying down huge numbers of barrels, we would get chance to taste different wines, meet with some of the grape growers and to purchase some wine if we wanted to.

Read Part 2 for the details of our fabulous day out!

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Page added on: 16 January 2015
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