My First Foray into Wine Club-ery
There are some things you can get away with when traveling with all women that simply wouldn’t fly in other circumstances. Choosing to visit a winery solely because there are horses on the brochure is one of those things. After a relaxing, albeit unique (more on that here), morning of mud baths, massages and facials in Calistoga, CA, it was time to explore the countryside and taste some wine, hopefully while also petting a horse.
We rented bikes from our hotel and headed towards Tamber Bey, a winery and equestrian farm next to the “Old Faithful Geyser of California”. On the way we passed fields of wild mustard flowers, streets lined with pink cherry trees, and a surprisingly creepy hillside cemetery. It was a perfect 80 degree day and we couldn't have been happier to be biking through wine country instead of sitting in the office at our desks.
We biked into the estate, for it's far too grand to call it anything else, along the winding driveway framed by white fenced pastures. Their sign said "Appointment Only" which slightly worried us as we didn't have one, but we had biked a whopping 2.5 miles to get there and weren't going to turn around without asking if they could fit us in. Giddy at the atmosphere of the place, we sent Sarah in to see if they would let us have a tasting despite our lack of planning while we locked up the bikes. She returned, smiling saying, yes they would have us!
The tasting room is in the original barn clubhouse. When we walked in, we expected to have our tasting at the counter similar to other wineries, but the woman behind the counter handed us glasses and said, "You'll have your tasting out there," turning her head towards the patio. We exchanged pleased looks - this place kept getting better and better and we hadn't even tasted the wine yet. Out on the covered patio we found Restoration Hardware-esque furniture set up in a semi-circle looking out onto a well manicured courtyard surrounded by 16 horse stalls. Joel, our pourer and general guide to the wine and vineyards, sat on the other side of our semi-circle and asked us what tasting we'd like to do and what wines we liked to drink. We went with the Vineyard Series Tasting for $25, which included 5 tastings, but Joel threw in a 6th for free, a Pinot Noir, because that's what we said we liked.
Joel asked us what brought us to the winery and where we were from. He gave us a brief history of the place and explained the wines as we tasted each one. He never once rushed us, letting us drift into our own conversations over each wine. Our tasting lasted close to two hours with Joel giving us our full attention. In addition to this amazing customer service, I liked every single wine we tasted. Usually I really like 2 out of 5 wines. Here I loved five wines and simply liked one.
Sensing our desire to interact with the horse who had his head poking out of a stall, Joel asked if we'd like to go visit Woody before finishing the tasting. That was the main reason we had picked Tamber Bey in the first place, so we replied, "You read our minds!"
Tamber Bey had now fulfilled each goal we had had for the day. The next logical step seemed to be to sign up for a wine club membership! I signed up for the two bottle quarterly membership and couldn't wait to return for another heavenly day at Tamber Bey.
Two days later I found a handwritten "Thank You" card in my mailbox from Joel, reconfirming that joining the EQQwine Club (they're punny too!) was 100% the right decision.
Schedule your own perfect day.
Tamber Bey Vineyards at Sundance Ranch | 1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515 | 707.942.2100 | Open daily 10 am to 5 pm for tours and tastings by appointment
Ride a bike through the rolling hills and you’ll be saying, “Life is good,” and, “I’m #blessed,” too. Spend too much time here though, and you'll start to fantasize about quitting your job and joining “the industry” even if it means being a seasonal grape picker sleeping on a cot with other vagabonds.