EVENTS

Instead of reaching into your cellar or dropping by your neighborhood wineshop, take your vino habit on the road. These California wineries offer blending workshops or training, guaranteeing you’ll do more than just belly up to the tasting-room bar.

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Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines (owner of Sonoma and Napa labels Sterling Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard, Moon Mountain Vineyard, Provenance Vineyards, and Acacia Vineyard) hosts two Crush Camps in September. You can learn the steps in the winemaking process -- from picking to stomping to blending your own varietal -- by visiting Diageo’s five wineries for intensive instruction. The package includes two nights’ lodging and four meals, as well as a truck ride up the Mayacamas Mountains for a gorgeous sunset view and time in the kitchen with chef Joey Altman. September 18–20 and September 25–27, $965 per person. (707) 967-5288

It’s Friday morning, and that means it’s time to start mixing at the blending lab at Ravenswood Winery, a celebrated producer in Sonoma with a strong following. With just 10 people in each Blending Seminar, you get to play with pipettes, graduated cylinders, and learn more about grapes such as zinfandel, petite sirah, and carignane. Ravenswood can accommodate groups of up to 35 people on Fridays at 11 a.m., by appointment only; $50 per person. (707) 933-2332, www.ravenswood-wine.com

A visit to Lodi Wine & Visitors Center will give you access to many Lodiarea zinfandels, as the center handles tastings of smaller, lesser-known zins, some of which haven’t achieved national distribution. Call ahead of time, though, and your visit could include a blending workshop. What better way to learn successful formulas for these extremely food-friendly, cult-status wines? By appointment, $25. (209) 365-0621, www.lodiwine.com

Not only can you sip wines at Napa’s Rutherford District Fleury Estate Winery, but you can blend your own custom case of wine too. Napa Valley Wine Blending 101, a two-hour seminar, provides “students” with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc wines, plus the best tools for helping you get to know your palate. Winery staffers assist with the blending, hand-bottling, and blind-tasting elimination processes. By appointment, $1,500/ case minimum and $100/person. (707) 967-8333, www.fleurywinery.com

This lodging/winemaking package allows guests at the Hope-Merrill and Hope-Bosworth houses (both of which are in Geyserville) to pick grapes in September and return the following May to blend, bottle, and label the resulting wine. Harvest occurs at a variety of local wineries. There are three sessions with dates in September and May; $1,500 per couple for both sessions (includes four nights’ lodging, meals at the inns, and vintner dinners). (800) 825-4233, www.hope-inns.com

Honig Vineyard and Winery’s Harvest Education Week is open to only six people at a time, and it’s practically an orientation to working in Napa’s Rutherford District. The week includes an introductory wine seminar, an intensive look at harvesting and sustainable practices, a day in San Francisco visiting restaurant and retail accounts, an afternoon entertaining guests in the tasting room,and a dinner or retail tasting with the Honig family. Held the second week of September; $1,000/ person (includes five nights’ lodging on property). (800) 929-2217, www.honigwine.com/events

 

BUY THE BOTTLE

Don’t necessarily feel like crushing your own grapes and blending your own bottle? Then just pick up one of these and tell your friends you could’ve made them, if you’d only had the time on your last wine-country vacation.

DIAGEO
2005 BV Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $18
2006 A by Acacia Chardonnay, $15
2006 Moon Mountain Sauvignon Blanc, $13
2006 Sterling Napa Valley Chardonnay, $17
2007 Provenance Sauvignon Blanc, $18

RAVENSWOOD
2005 Ravenswood Lodi County Zinfandel, $15
2005 Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Designate, $30

FLEURY ESTATE WINERY
2006 F in Red Proprietary Blend, $85
2005 Lauren Bryce Cabernet Sauvignon, $85
2006 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $150

HONIG VINEYARD AND WINERY
2007 Sauvignon Blanc, $16