During the COVID-19 pandemic, articles abounded with ways wineries were working to connect with their customers when travel and in-person gatherings weren’t viable options.
Virtual tastings, e-mail blasts, promotional deals and socially-distanced, self-guided tastings were mostly on the menu as wineries looked to maximize what they could amid a pandemic that made it difficult or impossible to open, depending on what the regulations were in the areas they were located.
Many of those features have stuck around, as they’ve proven to be worthwhile tools to connect with customers and encourage them to buy wine.
But after being closed down for the better part of a year or more in some cases, some wineries, such those included in the the Foley Family of Wines portfolio, are playing the tourism card, inviting their guests for excursions and activities that go far beyond the traditional Saturday afternoon tasting.
Looking for inspiration to bring your customers back to the winery? Here are eight wineries located throughout California that are using a blend of their assets and creativity:
Ferrari Carano, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
With popular gardens, vineyards and outdoor enclaves, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery is using its outdoor features to its advantage. They’re offering enhanced appointment-only tastings to experience the winemakers favorite wines paired with Italian-inspired tapas. On Sundays, they offer combination brunches and tastings.
Chalk Hill Estate, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Chalk Hill Estate Vineyard and Winery is also taking advantage of its grounds. The 1,300-acre estate is home to multiple venues hosting elevated experiences, organic culinary gardens and largely uncultivated wilderness in an effort to preserve the land. Its signature wine tasting, The Vineyard Overlook Experience, offers guests an elegant and immersive guided-tasting experience with vineyard views of the Russian River Valley.
Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma County
Sebastiani’s historic Cherryblock Vineyard Tour and Tasting takes guests on a private 90-minute excursion with a Senior Wine Educator to learn about the winery’s history, unique viticulture and the winemaking philosophy behind their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, Cherryblock.
Chalone Vineyard, Soledad, Central Coast
Monterey County’s oldest winery, Chalone Vineyard, is perched in the ruggedly beautiful terrain of the Gavilan Bench with a storied past as remarkable as its acclaimed wines. Located 1,800 feet above the Salinas Valley and bordering Pinnacles National Park, the estate’s rolling vineyards benefit from a unique combination of limestone and granite soils that create wines with distinctive minerality. Visitors will enjoy an intimate wine tasting of five estate wines while learning about a winery whose Chardonnay brought California wines to the world stage during the landmark Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976.
Lincourt Vineyards, Santa Barbara County
Lincourt Vineyards is nestled in Santa Barbara County outside of the Dutch-inspired town of Solvang in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, one of the most coveted cool-climate AVAs in California. Lincourt’s tasting room is located in an original 1926 Sears Craftsman Kit Home that has served as the farmhouse of what was once a dairy farm. The property has retained the rustic, rural charm and simplicity of an earlier era. Named for Bill and Carol Foley’s daughters, Lindsay and Courtney, Lincourt produces small-lot bottlings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Guests can enjoy views of the estate vineyard for their seated tastings on the patio, with the option of an accompanying cheese and charcuterie plate.
Firestone Winery, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County
Visitors can enjoy seating tastings in the tasting room, on the lawn or in the courtyard, with flights including wines ranging from crisp white to intense red blends. Throughout the summer, Firestone offers a coveted Friday Night Summer Concert Series with food available from food trucks parked on-site. Friday concerts are free and reservations are required.
Lancaster Estate, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
This winery is offering a cave tour experience, highlighting its wine library and barrel aging process. The tasting of four estate wines is located in the Garden Grove overlooking Bordeaux varietals grown exclusively in Alexander Valley.
Foley Johnson, Rutherford, Napa Valley
Housed in a converted 1920s redwood barn, Foley Johnson’s tasting room offers three Napa Valley winery tastings in one location. Guests can reserve an indoor or patio tasting of wines from Foley Johnson, Kuleto Estate and Merus wineries — three Napa Valley wineries brought together under one roof by Bill Foley and his wife, Carol Johnson.