There's virtually no end to the list of wineries welcoming visitors in Napa and Sonoma this summer. But while tastings and cheese pairings never really get old, it's easy for all those world-class vineyard experiences to just kind of blend into one by the end of a long day in Wine Country.
Not so with these out-of-the-ordinary winery experiences. Is drinking wine with a falcon or sipping on a seaplane truly unforgettable? Yes. Yes it is.
So make reservations for a tasting teamed with horseback rides, pool time, and more moments that are absolutely worthy of your 'gram.
Falconry in the Garden, Bouchaine Vineyards
Raptors play an important role keeping smaller grape-loving birds at bay at Bouchaine Vineyards and, with their Falconry in the Garden experience, you can get to know some of the hawks and falcons on duty. A few mornings each week, falconer Kate Marden introduces guests to the winery's feathered predators and discusses the ancient art of falconry and its role in sustainable wine production. You'll be enraptured not just by the beautiful birds, but by the glass of Bouchaine wine (think estate-grown pinot noir and chardonnay) that accompanies the 90-minute exhibition. // 9:30am Wednesday through Friday, $75/person; 1075 Buchli Station Rd (Napa), bouchaine.com
Swimming Pools, Francis Ford Coppola Winery
There's miles of warm weather left to go before 2021 is done and Francis Ford Coppola's got just the solution to hot, listless days. The Geyserville winery has not one but two pools to keep you cool while you taste. Although Coppola is not offering individual pool passes this summer, members and non-members alike can reserve a four-person cabine, which comes complete with a private shower, towels, and more. Sip while you lounge—Coppola's new, low-ABV Pool House line comes in cans perfect for a day on the deck—or set up a full tasting (from $30/person). // Pools are open 11am-5pm daily through October 24th, starting at $180 for members and $220 for non-members; 300 Via Archimedes (Geyserville), thefamilycoppola.com.
Seaplane Wine Flight, Obsidian Wine Co
Elevate your Wine Country experience with Obsidian Wine Co's Seaplane Wine Flight. Climb aboard the winery's de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Sausalito, then sip your way through estate-grown sauvignon blancs and cabs in the skies over Wine Country. The flight takes a path along the Mayacamas foothills, above the Obsidian Ridge, and past Mt. Konocti, one of the most active volcanoes in the U.S., before setting down on California's largest freshwater body of water, Clear Lake. // Contact Obsidian for available dates and reservations, obsidianwineco.com.
Horseback Rides, Bartholomew Estate Vineyards
There are 375 acres of oak groves and vineyards to explore at Bartholomew Estate. But while your puny human legs will serve you well enough on a hike around the property, the best way to traverse the historic Sonoma estate is on horseback. Hitch a ride with Sonoma Valley Trail Rides, which has teamed up with Bartholomew to offer vineyard rides twice or more per day on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The 45-minute adventure includes a bottle of Bartholomew Estate zinfandel or sauvignon blanc to enjoy on the property or take home when the ride is done. // $140/person, 11am to 2:15pm Monday, 11am to 12:45pm Thursday, and 11am to 3:15pm Friday; 1000 Vineyard Ln. (Sonoma), bartholomewestate.com
Lion’s Head Blending Experience, Hess Collection
Fuel your winemaking wishes and sommelier dreams with Hess Collection's Blending Experience. Part wine tour and tasting, part science experiment, the two-hour workshop's primary goal is to introduce guests to varietal blending. Go deep into the taste and aroma of three Hess Collection reds and compare your concoctions with the winery's signature Lion Tamer Red Blend. Your custom blend will accompany you home at the end of the day. // $165/person, reservations required Friday through Monday; 4411 Redwood Rd. (Napa), hesscollection.com
Art and Design, RH Yountville
In theory, RH Yountville is just an outpost of the well-known, Marin-based home design store. In practice, it's so much more. The full sensory assault includes a tasting room, boutique, design gallery, and restaurant across five impeccably styled structures. Housed in the historic, two-story stone Ma(i)sonry building is the Wine Vault where RH Yountville offers a variety of tastings from a curated selection of limited-selection Napa and Sonoma vintners starting at $50 per person, as well as wine by the glass. Even if you're not in the market for a new Cloud sofa, don't leave without checking out their galleries where renowned designers have created artistic, transportative realms. // 6725 Washington St (Yountville), rh.com