Wine-country jaunts are great but they can leave you wanting for more. Instead of drinking the wine, why not assist in making it? Or, instead of viewing breathtaking photos of the vineyards, why not waltz right through them?
At Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta, Calif., a 360-room luxury resort about 40 minutes from Santa Barbara County vineyards, they've just introduced a package suited for travelers who want an interactive wine-country vacation. "Bacara Crush" is available through the end of November and costs $695 per couple. In addition to typical wine-country offerings, like a private tour guide, rides to and from a local winery in a luxury SUV, wine tastings in the winery's tasting room, and a picnic at the vineyard, is the opportunity to get dirty and sweaty next to winery staff. You'll sort grapes, trek through the vines, and assist with "punch downs." Of course, wine flows freely and after it's all done you'll receive a signed certificate from the winemaker validating your hard work.
Back at the resort, Miro (its restaurant) is the perfect reward for hard work: order off a wine list culled from its 12,000-bottle wine cellar. On the 46-page wine list are: a "blow your mind" Champagne recommended by the sommelier (2000 Pierre Peters "Les Chetillons" Blanc de Blancs Brut, Grand Cru, Mesnil-sur-Oger), a winery that appeared in the 2004 film Sideways (2008 Hitching Post "Highliner," Santa Barbara County), and 35 wines or ports by the glass.
Guests can even choose which winery they want to "work" at, including Brewer-Clifton, Carhartt Vineyard & Winery, and Harrison Clarke Wine. As some of these wineries' vineyards (like Carhartt and Grassini) are not typically open to the public, it's a bonus for wine geeks who want to tread off the beaten path in this region, which has been a popular destination ever since Sideways arrived in movie theaters eight years ago.
Room rates start at $299 and are not included in the "Bacara Crush" package.
Photos courtesy of Bacara Resort and Spa