By Elle Potter
As logistics director for Zephyr’s numerous conferences, I was in Napa last week for our first ever Wine Tourism Conference and was able to participate in a little pre-conference excursion with a handful of the conference attendees at Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate in Sonoma. I had never been to Napa or Sonoma Valley, and was completely enchanted by the unexpected vibrancy of the autumn colors.
When was the last time you saw anything more than just the tasting room of a winery? If you have never seen the beautiful expanse of vineyards other than from your car, it’s time you get yourself to the beautiful Sonoma valley.
I had my first winery/vineyard/wine-tasting experience earlier this year in the St. Ynez Valley. The drive was beautiful and sunny, and many of the tastings were held outside, but beyond that, my experience was limited to pretending like I knew what I was talking about after I sampled each wine. And trust me – I didn’t know diddly.
Before we even sampled the wine, our guides Margaret Chastain and Jim McCammon took us on a beautiful stroll of some of the acres and acres of Michel-Schlumberger’s sprawling vines.
Jim Morris, Vice President of Marketing joined us and we were lucky to get some incredible inside scoop on the land, the efforts at creating a sustainable environment, and the subsequent wines that come from a combination of the two.
By the time we got back to the tasting room to sample the labor of their fruits, I felt like I had an intimate connection with the wine. It came from those beautiful hillsides I had just wandered around and the different tastes were influences by the different soils I still had on the bottoms of my shoes.
It’s no wonder I took a zillion pictures – even untouched, look at how vibrant these colors are! You want to really, really experience wine country? Sonoma Vineyard Walks is the way to do it. While you won’t leave your experience feeling like a fully-qualified sommelier, I can promise you will feel a connection to the soft hills and bursting grapes that you’ll want to come back to again and again.
By Elle Potter, Zephyr Adventures conference admin and community manager