3 Unique Winemaking Experiences to Try in California Wine Country
True wine-lovers are passionate, curious about the winemaking lifestyle, and interested in more than traditional tasting events or collecting vintages. They want to deepen their education, be hands-on, and might even want to get into winemaking themselves. If you fit into any of these categories, look no further. We’ve got a few of the coolest California wineries who believe wine is far more than a drink – it’s an experience, and they’ll help you make your own wine from the vine to the cork.
The Raymond family has been in Napa Valley since 1933, and they’ve been making their own wine at Raymond Vineyards since the '70s. Their St. Helena winery is an enchanting collection of rooms including the Crystal Cellar, the Red Room, a Corridor of Senses, and the Blending Room. The Blending Room is where the immersion happens in what they call “Winemaker for a Day.” You’ll spend the day in a glamorous, futuristic red wine laboratory, blending varietals, designing your own label, and then taking your bottle home. This is an awesome, unique experience for those of you who want to make wine but don’t want to make a long-term commitment just yet – and if you’re really impressed with your wine creation, you can order a few cases of it!
The Wine Foundry
The Wine Foundry is a special experience in itself. It’s not just its own label – it’s a facility dedicated to helping people make their own wine. They’ll take you through each stage of winemaking: choosing your varietal and vineyard, crushing and barreling the grapes, blending the wines, choosing a glass, label, and cork, and finally, bottling your custom wine. And if you decide you want to delve deeper into the business realm of winemaking, they’ll even help you sell your wine commercially. Located right in the heart of Napa, The Wine Foundry is definitely one to check out for an extensive, hands-on learning experience.
The Chirichillo family has a rich winemaking background that began in the 1950s in a New York basement, so they know firsthand what it’s like to follow a passion for winemaking. Now in San Carlos, Domenico Winery’s “Bacchus Winemaking Club” takes you on a journey infused with their deep Italian heritage. Every year in August, Domenico hosts a Harvest Party where anyone can come to celebrate and hear their story, and if you want to join the Bacchus Winemaking Club, you’ll start the process by choosing your grapes. From there, you’ll have four sessions over the next year where the Chirichillo family will work with you hand-in-hand to help you develop your craft through de-stemming and crushing, pressing, racking, and bottling. If you’re looking for a cultural and traditional experience, then Domenico is the place for you. The Bacchus Winemaking Club is unmatched in its ability to teach you the age-old skills of winemaking.
Making wine can be fun for a group of friends and family, or it can be the inspiration you need to get into the wine industry. Either way, these wineries won't disappoint!