27 July 2012

Exploring Sonoma Valley Wine Country - On a Segway!

When it comes to wine tasting, I am traditional. I like to spend time taking in the rich aromas, colors, and tastes of each wine. I chat with the workers at the vineyard to get a sense of the love and care put into production. When possible, I always like to see the grapes themselves out in the field. (Not that I know much about wine tasting, but I try and copy what I see other 'wine snobs' doing!) 

Thankfully, my traditional tastes only apply in the tasting room and not to the method of transport used to get there, because I arrived to each vineyard on the back of a wild electronic steed, more commonly known as a Segway!

My dad had some about-to-expire coupons he'd bought on groupon for this wine tour by a local firm called Segway of Healdsburg, so he insisted I use them. "Ok, If you insist," was my reply. The tour started off in a park and ride parking lot in Healdsburg, right off HWY 101. The Segways come to you in a van, charged up and ready to go. They guides teach you how to ride in the safety of the big empty parking lot, which was great because I had never been on a Segway before, but thankfully it was super easy. We took a quick trip up a side street to make sure our Segwaying skills were up to snuff, and then we were off!

Location of the tour's starting point in relation to the bay.

Overview of our route.

My tracks when I was practicing back
and forth in the parking lot!

And the side road we practiced on.

After getting the hand of it, we headed down a main road to Limerick Lane, a quaint country road dotted with small vineyards. Segways are legally bicycles, so we stuck to the bike lane, but boy did we get some funny stares from passing motorists!

Aerial View of Viszlay Vineyards. 
Our first stop was Viszlay Vineyards. John, the owner, conducted our tasting himself around a shady outdoor table adjacent to the fields of vines. John told us he is a recent transplant from Chicago who decided to try his hand at wine making, and boy, he is doing something right! I am not a fan of Chardonnay, but we tasted a Chardonnay so crisp and delicious that I had to purchase a bottle. It felt great to buy something in cash directly from the person who had made it - this is how agriculture should work! And of course, we got him to sign the bottle.

Aerial View of Limerick Lane Cellars, with its bottle-shaped pool!

Our second and final stop was just down the road to a place called Limerick Lane Cellars. The tasting room here was much more formal, with dark woods and ornate decorations. The tasting assistant was very helpful and knowledgeable, and he gained my respect with his honesty; his personal favorite on their tasting list was also the cheapest, so he didn't seem to be trying to upsell us. 

Limerick Lane Cellars has been around for a while; some of their vines have been producing grapes since 1910! These old vines are unique because they were keep alive during prohibition when most grape vines in the area were ripped out. Due to their age, their roots reach down to the groudwater, meaning that these vines are non-irrigated. The reliance on groundwater gives the fruit a special kind of taste which you would not get with irrigated vines! We ended up buying a bottle of Zin from vines planted in the 1930's, and I cannot wait for a special occasion to drink it.

Overall, the Segway tour was a blast! I'd highly recommend taking the tour with Segway of Healdsburg, but even if you go it alone to Sonoma Wine Country, be sure to stop by Viszlay and Limerick Lane Cellars! Click here for photos of the trip taken by our tour guide!

Here is an interactive map of our route: The pins show the starting place and the location of both vineyards. Click on them for more info!

View Larger Map

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