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How To Take Your Wine Tasting Club To The Next Level

You and your friends have organized a successful wine tasting club. You’ve done everything right for each monthly meeting:

  • Decided on a formal or informal format
  • Created a theme such as “Wines of Chile,” “The Best of the California Cabernets,” or “Favorite Holiday Wines”
  • Secured appropriate wine tasting supplies and accessories such as glasses, rinse pitchers, dump buckets, drinking water, bland bread or crackers, and a tasting evaluation form for each member
  • Allocated time for enrichment from research shared by members or an outside presenter such as a wine merchant or local winery vintner
  • Focused on food and wine paring with the meeting theme
  • Mailed a newsletter or sent an newsletter with the next meeting’s location, agenda, theme, and other details as well as a review of the last meeting’s tastings, upcoming community wine-related events, etc.

    You’ve done well. Membership has grown and your group of like-minded individuals are now the best of friends. Where can you go from here? Plan a tour for your group to a wine region! Start with a short trip, perhaps a three or four day cruise in Napa Valley. After one or two successful wine holidays, plan more extensive travel to wine regions of France, Germany, South Africa or even Australia and New Zealand.

    Small-ship cruise line, Cruise West, offers two itineraries for enjoying California wine country in September and October. “Vintner’s Choice” is a perfect four night trip for delving into the world of food and wine. The renowned Culinary Institute of America is the setting for a cooking demonstration and wine program and enjoy unequaled dining at places like Auberge de Soleil, poised up high with a magnificent view of the Napa Valley, or a limo tour designed specifically for cabernet lovers ready to try some upscale local wines. You’ll also have an opportunity to stroll around enchanting Sausalito and celebrated Sonoma.

    “Culture of the Vine” is a wine-focused weekend cruise, with tastings and educational discussions with winemakers on the port stops. Savor fine wine, splendid landscaping and sweeping views in the rich Carneros growing region at the entrance to the Wine Country. In addition to a stop in the delightful town of St. Helena, you’ll enjoy a three-course lunch in the cave theater at Clos Pegase and a tour of this winery’s comprehensive art collection. In Sonoma, you’ll visit with the winemakers at Benziger and take a tractor-pulled tram ride through their vineyards for an first-hand look at their vines. Sample the champagnes of noted vintner Domaine Carneros as you take a break on their stunning terrace at an afternoon reception.

    Both itineraries begin and end at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and the opportunity to schedule an additional day to explore that city’s unique characteristics in more detail can easily be arranged.

    Cruise West cruises have a casual dress code, engaging atmosphere, gracious crew, and a dining program dictated by the day’s activities, so everyone will feel comfortable on board. And because the guests onboard tend to be energetic travelers looking for new experiences, they are customarily open to making friends along the way. Enjoy wine tastings on board, hosted by representatives of diverse wine institutions. Recommended for wine novices and connoisseurs who want to see California's wine country from a unique perspective. All in all, it’s a satisfying way to explore the California wine country. Start planning a wine country tour for your group today. An escape for the senses!

    Scooter Tessari, MCC, owns The Cruise Center, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and operates the website http://www.TastefulJourneys.com devoted to enrichment vacations with a culinary accent and featuring cruises, tours, and custom designed vacation packages. Go to http://www.tastefuljourneys.com/5629506_8304.htm for “CULTURE OF THE VINE“ and http://www.tastefuljourneys.com/5631362_8304.htm “VINTNER’S CHOICE” itinerary details.

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