When we headed to wine country over Spring Break, we had the opportunity to take a “Sip ‘n’ Cycle” around the Sonoma/Carneros area from Getaway Adventures Wine Country Bike Tours. I had never heard of such a thing, drinking wine and riding a bike often seems dangerous, but knowing my husband loves mountain biking and I love wine, it was a perfect adventure for us to tackle!
Randy, the president and CEO of the company, gave me a call the week before our trip to make sure we were prepared on what to wear and what to bring and give an overall idea of the day. The ride was about 5 hours long that includes a picnic lunch and a visit to 4 wineries. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I’m in the middle of getting fit for our upcoming vacation, so I was up for the challenge and my husband was thrilled to check out the specs of the bikes!
We were picked up right outside our hotel in the parking lot. Randy’s van brought four bikes and we were joined by another couple visiting from Washington D.C. (hi Jamie and Josh!). Before we got on the road we got a thorough training on the bikes themselves, Marin hybrid street/mountain bikes, a refresher of hand signals while riding, and practiced shifting into the appropriate gears in the parking lot to prepare for the roads we’d encounter. We were reminded that this was a leisure ride, no racing needed and we buckled our helmets and were on our way. The first road was a creekside biking/hiking path and it reminded me of the bike trails around UC Davis where my husband and I went to school. The day was incredible and the breeze was a natural cooler.
We would occasionally go through town to get to other bike paths, but Sonoma seems so relaxed and very used to seeing bikers in and out of the traffic. I felt completely safe the entire trip! Randy is a wealth of knowledge constantly giving us local history and stopping along our trip to fill us in about some fascinating winery/vineyard facts. The ride is mostly flat, but with some slight inclines up to the wineries themselves. I did have to get off the bike and walk for small portions of the trip, but never hindering the group, nor feeling uncapable.
We visited 4 lovely family-owned wineries that all had unique and special qualities to them. Gundlach Bundschu gave us a personal tour and quick peek into their working caves. We had a full tasting at Buena Vista Carneros Winery where we were given some salami and different cheeses to show some pairing ideas. Randy went back to get our lunch at this point and it gave us some real quality time with our biking friends. Our third destination was Bartholomew Park Winery where we were to have our picnic lunch. This winery included a fabulous museum telling the story of it’s preservation and interesting (home for wayward women) history! Bob was our tasting room host and was so vibrant and knowledgeable, it was a pleasure speaking with him!
Lunch was next and it was a catered plethora of amazing tastes and textures. By this time in the wine tasting and ride, we had built up a huge appetite and feasted on chicken salad, fruit, delicious asiago bread and hummus, green salad, salmon, and a to-die-for potato salad. We enjoyed more wine with our meal, but honestly ice cold water was lovely at this point too! Our view overlooking the vineyard was spectacular and it was a moment I wanted to burn in my memory.
Our last destination was Ravenswood Winery where not only did we get an amazing experience, but here is where we got the background of how Randy began the job of his dreams. A former skier who got injured, Randy began biking for therapy and getting to know the wine country from a different perspective. He began taking friends on tours of the local country and soon they and company heads were willing to PAY him to take them, their clients, and friends around for a unique wine tasting experience. Twenty years later, here he is!
Now Peter Griffith of Ravenswood gave our tour group an amazing opportunity to create our own blend of wine. With three varietals (Zinfindel, Carignan, and Petit Syrah) we used a pipette and some different proportions of the 3 wines to create something we really enjoyed. Using 10 ml of Petit Syrah, 4ml of Zin, and 4ml of Carignan, I created a blend of my very own (as did the other bikers)! Peter took my creation, and created a bottle for me to take home and enjoy and not before I chose the cork and corked it myself! It was like chemisty class with a classy twist. The experience like the whole day was incredible. It is a must-do with your spouse, girlfriends, co-workers, or family when you are in the wine country and Randy couldn’t be a more perfect guide.
The tours are $149 per person, include the bike, helment, all you can drink water (in a souvenir bottle), picnic lunch and a visit to about 4 local wineries. Along with the Carneros tour, there’s a Calistoga and Healdsburg tour as well. Please take a look at the website, http://www.getawayadventures.com/tours/bicycle/ and also looking into his kayaking tours! Also, check out their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GetawayAdventures and see updated tour photos and comments that will convince you to take a trip! Thank you Randy for the amazing, memorable day!
We were given complimentary tours in exchange for this honest post. All experiences are my tried and true opinions and were not influenced by any source. Gratuity was given on our own accord