We are all finding new ways to continue to connect with our friends and family, keep busy and do things we enjoy, most likely on a virtual online platform. And usually when you think of wine tasting, you envision visiting a tasting room or winery for a vino pour. Well, wineries along the Madera Trail, (south of Yosemite), are virtually connecting wine fans with their favorite wine makers to bring the wine community together and continue in the tradition of wine tastings, in a virtual setting!
In my latest Zoom interview I had the opportunity to chat with Brooke Smith of Visit Yosemite Madera County Tourism office and Anna Marie Dos Remedios of Idle Hour Winery to find out more on this virtual wine connection. Plus, I learned about the virtual cooking classes being offered too! Chef Robert Snyder III is teach his kitchen-maestro tips in a virtual cooking class series. First up , he showed viewers how to prepare a simple, nutrition-packed Carrot Ginger Soup from the coziness of your own home. New videos will post regularly, and now the hospitality of the Chateau du Sureau can be experienced from your home.
As Brooke pitched : When the going gets tough, the tough come together, with new ways to appreciate things we love, like drinking wine. Although tasting rooms at Madera Wine Trail wineries are temporarily closed for anything except bottle pick-up and deliveries fear not, wine tasting is still on. Virtually, that is.
Your favorite winemakers are taking to Instagram and Facebook to open up a bottle (or two) of some cheerful reds and whites. If you are fortunate enough to have a bottle from the Madera Wine Trail tucked away, follow along with your own library. If not, grab a bottle of something you have on hand (we are sure you have stocked up, along with toilet paper!), make yourself a lovely appetizer, then have some fun chatting wine. “We wanted a way to stay in touch with our community, patrons and dear friends.” mused the winemaker and owner of Idle Hour winery, Anna Marie Remedios. “For now, we are temporarily rethinking our way of life during this time of social distancing. There are a variety of curbside pick-up or delivery options and a lot of fantastic wine discounts at the moment.”
I recently embarked on my first ever wine-tasting outing in Northern California’s “Wine Country,” and it was so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. I went with a group of ladies, as we were all celebrating my sister Adrienne’s upcoming wedding, so it was a girls getaway bachelorette weekend of sorts. Like I said, I had never been wine tasting, so I asked around for recommendations before finally settling on a VIP Tour Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena. The contact who booked gave me a heads’s up that it was a non-conservative and atypical of a traditional winery..whatever that is. Honestly I was just expecting a plain room in the middle of a huge field of grapes on a vine and wine barrels. I couldn’t have been more wrong in “stereotyping” a vineyard/winery. This was anything but boring, typical AND oh so perfect for our occasion!
I instantly fell in love with our VIP host Gina, she was a complete doll! As soon as she saw our group, we got our glasses and popped the bubbly. Then she proceeded to take us for a short tour of their grounds, with beautiful gardens, farm animals and even a “Doggie Winery” if you will. She explained to us that they create their own energy and do their best to be “green.”
From there, the party started! We went into an indoor facility where they make the wine and this place is almost indescribable, you kind of have to experience it for yourself. It has sexy mood lighting with several Vegas showgirl-like outfitted mannequins…it had a Moulin Rouge feel…lots of “French” influence! There were elaborate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and lounge music pumping through the room..and of course we were surrounded by wine!
From there we went to another outdoor area where we had an impromptu photo shoot on picturesque white lounge furniture before being ushered in to the “JCB Lounge.” JCB standing from wine maker and owner Jean Charles Boissant. The JCB Lounge is all-gold EVERYTHING! There’s also a huge projection screen and just a very rich, very high end vibe. My first thought was this is the perfect backdrop for a hip hop video! LOL!
Our last stop on the VIP tour was the private Red Room. Think velvet and leopard fabrics…it was out of this world, the room just sucked you in and invited you to relax. Gina was even kind enough to let my sister pic the Beyonce Pandora station to provvde our soundtrack for the room. All in all, I was blown away by this place..and I’m sure when I return there’ll be so much more to take in that I missed this time around. We may not have went to Vegas for this bachelorette, but Raymond Vineyards made us feel like that’s where we were..and the wines were amazing too! It couldn’t have been a more perfect VIP Tour of the Winery or for my sister’s special outing. We are so thankful we had the opportunity to visit it.
I would highly recommend this as a stop for anyone’s next jaunt into wine country. It’s nothing short of amazing and didn’t disappoint..both of which I never expected to be saying about a winery.