It’s that time again: Get ready to welcome Harvest 2017! This year, instead of spending your weekend just wine-tasting, why not stain your hands (or feet) purple like a real winemaker? Several Napa Valley wineries offer truly interactive experiences – from “a day in the life” of harvest to making your own custom blend to stomping the grapes with your feet. Most of these experiences are by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.
Raymond Vineyards offers a 90-minute experience that allows you to be a “Winemaker for a Day.” Guests each create three different blends to find their preferred alchemy of four different varietals. Once they select their favorite blend, they bottle, cork, foil, and affix their personally designed label onto the bottle. $125/person or $100/person for club members.
Round Pond Estate features a 90-minute “Hands-On Harvest Experience” that includes a complete winery tour, wine-making, barrel tasting, and intimate wine-tasting with a seasonal food pairing. August 21 through October 31, $95 for club members, $105 for non-members. Round Pond also offers “A Day in the Life” – a full day with a Round Pond winemaker, from the vineyard to the winery to the barrel room, a guided tasting of olive oils, and an artisanal al fresco lunch paired with estate wines. Saturday, October 21, 10 am to 3 pm, $200 for members, $250 for non-members.
Judd’s Hill Winery offers a Bottle Blending Day Camp™ in which you’ll be led through a personal tasting, education, and blending session as you choose your perfect Bordeaux-style blend from four barrel samples. After selecting your favored cuveé you’ll bottle, label, and foil your bottle before taking home your personally crafted wine. Group pricing starts at $95/person.
Grgich Hills Estate celebrates founder Mike Grgich’s roots in Croatia, where he learned to crush grapes with his feet. From the beginning of harvest (roughly around Labor Day) through the end of October, you can stomp some grapes, enjoy a glass of Grgich Hills wine, then take home a souvenir T-shirt and Govino glass. $35/person.
V. Sattui Winery invites all its visitors to observe its grape sorting, destemming, and pressing procedures on the crush pad during the whole harvest season. The production staff engages with guests and answers any questions they might have about the process. No reservations are necessary.
Villa Ragazzi is an intimate, artisanal producer of just three Sangiovese-based wines in Oakville. Guests are invited to do a vineyard tour and taste with owners Michaela and Gregory Rodeno. It can take an hour or longer, depending on the size and interest of the group. Because this is a small, family-run operation, there is no tasting fee, but of course they hope the experience will encourage you to buy a few bottles. Appointment required.