Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist who also teaches at Santa Clara University and Stanford University, warns that life in a vineyard can be easily romanticized. “Sometimes people forget that it’s hard work, there are stressors and you can get dirty.”
Still, Plante notes that the cyclical nature of work in the vineyard focuses his attention in ways that help him “think, meditate, and solve difficult problems.”
Like sipping a glass of wine, learning the basics of life in the vineyard can be restorative and even meditative. That’s why wineries are offering immersive programming to help patrons connect with the rhythmic nature of working in the vineyard, and why more and more wine lovers are getting their hands dirty trying to empty their minds. mind.
Spending a few days in a working vineyard also provides an invaluable education that brings home, as Plante says, just how complex it is to turn “grapes into quality wine.”
Travel and lifestyle writer Nicole Letts has stayed at the castle suites at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in 2020 and 2021. Letts believes that one of the main benefits of an extended stay on the winery property is that, without the time constraints of a typical tasting, observing and learning happens at a leisurely pace. , because there is more time to talk in depth with winemakers and hosts.
Craig Fovel, owner of The Vine on Middle Creek, a bed and breakfast and vineyard in Fredericksburg, Texas, grows Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre for William Chris Vineyards.
The estate offers immersive vineyard tours that are “educational at any time of year,” he says, but the meditative piece comes during harvest, when Fovel offers guests scissors or clippers to help cut the bunches. of the vine. After a few hours of work in the vineyard, his team prepares a big festive meal.
“People really relax here,” he says. “They read a book, play games and rejuvenate.”
The Gables Wine Country Inn is a Bed & Breakfast located in Sonoma County with a Riesling vineyard accessible to guests. Like Fovel, owners Pam and Larry Willis invite guests to learn pruning techniques, help during harvest, and pour wine produced from their vineyard for guests.
“Detailing the processes of winter pruning, trellising the vines in early spring, and leaf thinning as the bunches form leads to a different kind of appreciation as well as a sense of peace and quiet,” Larry explains. “It brings you into the present moment and the world around you fades into the background.”
Similarly, Lisa Sannino, owner and co-founder of Sannino Vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island, believes that people who stay in the vineyard’s Tuscan-style suite or villa, inspired by Italy agritourisms, where guests stay on a working farm – become part of the family. Like Letts, she feels that guests learn a lot on the spot by witnessing the day-to-day work of tending the vineyard. In the field, winemaker Anthony Sannino will explain to guests different pruning techniques and how the weather affects acidity levels, yields and, ultimately, wines. “It’s more visual than sitting in a tasting room,” says Lisa.
Staying at working vineyards also gives guests an insider’s experience of the inner workings of a winery. For example, Fovel often brings guests to William Chris Vineyards for a Q&A with winemaker Tony Offill.
Andres Vizcarra, winemaker at Becker Farms and Vizcarra Vineyards in Niagara County, New York, believes on-site education also pushes customers out of their comfort zone, forcing them to try wines they wouldn’t consider. maybe not in a traditional tasting room. Guests of Becker Farms can stay in a 375 square foot cabin between the vineyard and the orchards, and during their stay they can participate in guided hikes and wine tours.
Chris Bronke, educator and wine connoisseur, recently stayed on-site at Moshin Vineyards’ private studio. He describes the evenings as additional support for a meditative experience. “My wife and I sat outside, no light but the stars and the moon as we sipped wine and enjoyed the complete silence. It was magical.
Harnessing a meditative workflow not only provides the opportunity to reflect and restore, it heightens mindfulness of tasting notes and secures a new point of connection with the time, care and work that goes into a bottle of wine.
Plante, who also grows grapes for La Honda Winery in San Mateo County, similarly notes that learning about soil, weather and environmental factors helps to better understand why wine tastes the same.
“So much TLC is dedicated to it,” says Fovel. “And it’s an opportunity for calm and reflection. Even for a short stay, the rest of the world is waiting.