An Adult Camp for Wine Lovers Returns This September

Bright Williams
Updated 10:07 am ET, June 9, 2017

Sonoma Grape Camp offers oenophiles the ultimate vine-to-bottle experience at the start of harvest season.

Sonoma Grape Camp—the ultimate adult camp for wine lovers—is returning for the 10th year this September 18th to 21st, giving 30 lucky “campers” a hands-on winemaking experience at the start of harvest season.

Organized by the Sonoma County Winegrowers consortium, the camp brings an intimate group of guests on a “harvest journey” that starts where the wine itself does: in the field, traveling via tractor.

Exclusive Access to Dozens of Vineyards

Campers gain rare access to vineyards across the country, sampling grapes straight from the vine and even learning the difference between “mature” and “ripe” wine grapes.

“They get to feel the soil, the terroir, and get a better understanding for why a ‘sense of place’ is so vital to making incredible, memorable wines,” says Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers.

Freshly picked grapes are then tracked from the field to wineries where the real action kicks in.

A tractor takes campers into the vineyard
Courtesy Sonoma County Winegrowers

A tractor takes campers into the vineyard

Wine Expert-Led Tutorials

More than a dozen different wineries participate, each sharing different facets of the process or leading discussions with Sonoma’s winemaking experts and master sommeliers.

Past itineraries have included touring a cave and tasting the sparkling wine of Gloria Ferrer and learning the art of wine blending at Buena Vista Winery. Cooking classes and wine-food pairings are always on the schedule, including this year at Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg.

Outdoor “Pop-Up” Dinners

One of the most enchanting events are the outdoor “pop-up” dinners held in the picturesque fields of select Vineyards—each course paired with wine sourced from the very vines surrounding the communal table.

Campers get to know multigenerational grape growers and winemakers, learning firsthand the wisdom that goes into every bottle of famous Sonoma wines.

Pop-Up Wine Pairing Dinner
Courtesy Sonoma County Winegrowers

Pop-Up Wine Pairing Dinner

Coastal Field Trip

Lastly, the 2016 program will include an extra day for a special coastal field trip. Campers will step outside of the wine zone to where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean for a “sensory tasting” of tea hosted by the Republic of Tea and owner Ron Rubin (who also runs the Rubin Family of Wine).

“There are literally thousands of decisions that are made over the course of the growing season, through harvest, and once the grapes enter the wine cellar,” Kruse says. “There’s nothing fabricated about Grape Camp, which is very representative of Sonoma County as a whole.”

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