Why I Love Wine Tours
It’s hard to believe I used to look at people doing wine tours as pretentious wankers too busy rambling about ‘nose’ and ‘undertones’ to be having a good time.
When a friend would wave away an ice cold beer in favour of a glass of red or white at a party, I’d immediately draw a hipster beard, thick-framed glasses, and a speech bubble full of ‘cruelty free, grass-fed’ hippie bullshit above their heads.
I’d immediately draw a hipster beard, thick-framed glasses, and a speech bubble full of ‘cruelty free, grass-fed’ hippie bullshit above their heads.
When I finally lost my wine virginity with a wine tour in Broke, I learned that wine isn’t just about smug yuppies using as many adjectives as possible to describe something that tastes like grapes.
Far from it! Wine became instantly accessible as soon as I was given permission to just enjoy it rather than waxing lyrical about it.
Since then, I’ve begun to really look forward to wine tours.
In fact, as much fun as a good pub crawl can be, I’ve actually come to prefer wine tours.
They combine two things I love more than (almost) anything: drinking alcohol and being outdoors in photogenic locations.
So, when San Diego Beer & Wine Tours generously offered to get me drunk in beautiful San Diego wine country, I couldn’t exactly say no.
A San Diego Wine Tour
SD Beer & Wine Tours invited me on their chauffeured San Diego Wine Country tour, which included visits to three cellar doors as well as a decadent lunch at one of the vineyards.
While not a private tour, it was a small group, which is perfect for me. Just enough people for some socializing (drinking alone isn’t my thing) without being so many that they need a Chinese lady out front with a flag that matches the mandatory baseball caps everybody is wearing.
Our driver & guide, a vivacious local lass with a love of travel, made up for our awkward (sober) silences en route to the first venue, where a little liquid courage made for adequate social lubrication.
For the remainder of the journey, it was near impossible to get myself, Hogg, and the Minnesotan couple to shut up.
The day devolved into a blur of delicious wines, gorgeous landscapes, shots of lobster bisque, a lunch so generous that we turned down dessert, and just a little sunburn on my bald dome.
The day devolved into a blur of delicious wines, gorgeous landscapes, and just a little sunburn…
I could bore you with a blow by blow of our every stop and my notes on the wines, but that’s just the kind of unabashed wankery that kept me away from wine tours until I was 30.
Let’s just say that we ate, drank, and got more than a little merry, and I’ll share a few pics and highlights, eh?
Bernardo Winery felt like your prototypical winery – sculpted gardens, boutique stores I could never afford to shop at, and all the trappings of the classy vineyards I was always too daunted to visit.
That said, one or two glasses of wine later, I was feeling plenty comfortable despite my poor decision to wear jeans on a 32C day.
We sat down to a sumptuous three course dinner that included such decadence as lobster bisque shots, wandered the grounds to check out the various galleries and boutiques on site, and even got to enjoy complimentary chocolate and wine pairings at the chocolatier.
I promise, I won’t use the words ‘sumptuous’ or ‘chocolatier’ again. I feel pretentious just typing them.
They’re fitting in this context. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who got just a little turned on while eating.
I’m pretty sure Hogg even tried to play footsie with me under the table.
Orfila Winery was far more my speed.
A big warehouse style building, a shady spot to sit overlooking a beautiful stretch of vineyard, and ample time for us to sink a bunch of wines.
It’s about this stage in the day that I went from ‘pretending to know stuff about wine’ to ‘being absolutely enamored of wine’.
This was my kind of winery: nature, good wine, and none of the tacky trappings that scream “you can’t afford to drink here”.
By the time we got into Carruth Cellars, which is a trendy urban wine bar, I wore a pleasantly warm buzz. The conversation was flowing, the wine was good, and the dessert & cheese platter was being demolished.
Carruth is a cellar door for a true rookie. It’s urban, it’s a bit grungy, and the staff are young and, I’m not going to lie, disarmingly attractive.
There’s a joke to be made about full-bodied here, but by the time we got to Carruth, Hogg and I were both too inebriated to put it together.
This isn’t to say that the wine was not good or the staff not knowledgeable, just that it felt far more like a local bar than it did a daunting vineyard where you’d be expected to sniff, swill, and spit out your wine.
I never spit out wine.
By 8pm, we’d been dropped back off at our hotel. Buzzed and just a little sunstruck, the over-arching feeling was one of contentment.
It’s hard to have a bad time when you’re drinking good wine out amidst nature, but to say that doesn’t give adequate credit to San Diego Beer & Wine Tours. From pick-up to drop-off, we were well taken care of.
The vineyard selections were on point, we were given enough time at each stop to really soak it in, and the meals (lunch at Bernardo and a cheese platter at Carruth) kept us from getting falling down drunk.
I’d totally do it all over again.
My tour with San Diego Beer & Wine Tours was provided free of charge, but the words & opinions are my own. When somebody takes me on a bad wine tour, you’ll hear about it.
Have you been on any wine tours in your travels? Where was your favourite?