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Give the gift of wine experiences this holiday season

What do you get for the person who seems to have everything? While wine is always an excellent gift, wine-centred experiences allow people to form connections to unique places and lasting memories. The following wine experiences make for creative, unique gifting this holiday season.

Wine tasting experiences can offer a range of opportunities, from the basics of wine education to exploring the vineyards and cellars of favourite producers. Below, you’ll find an array of tasting options that might make the perfect gift.

Educational tastings

An introduction to wine tasting: Unlocking the Secrets of Wine with Joseph Phelps

Wine tasting can be confounding and intimidating to the uninitiated, with its technical jargon and opaque traditions. But the new Unlocking the Secrets of Wine experience at Joseph Phelps aims to demystify wine’s most perplexing questions through a unique tasting experience – think of it as a way to fast-track your wine education. Attendees will learn what common wine terms mean, the proper way to store and serve wine, the elements of food pairing and more while tasting through Joseph Phelps’ Napa and Sonoma offerings. Guests should plan for 90 minutes for the experience ($150 per person) and are advised to book well in advance as the experience only runs on certain days of the week.

Off-road in the Finger Lakes: UTV tasting at Heart and Hands

The Finger Lakes is an often-overlooked region for exceptional wines, but the world is catching on to the many gems it offers. One unique way to explore the region is the Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) Tour & Tasting with Heart and Hands Wine Company. Co-founder Susan Higgins will take up to four guests on a bumpy UTV tour of her limestone-laden vineyard and explain the winery’s viticultural practices. Following the in-depth tour, guests will go through a tasting of six wines paired perfectly with six matching small bites. The tour costs $65 per person and lasts 90 minutes.

Guests hiking through the Knudsen vineyards

Hiking among the vines at Knudsen Vineyards. Credit: John Valls

Hike among the vines

A weekend-only tasting event at pioneering Willamette Valley producer Knudsen Vineyards offers guests a unique outdoor experience. Picture exploring the vineyards and then tasting the wines from those historic blocks over a picnic-style lunch. The Knudsens were among the first families in the Willamette to plant Pinot Noir in Oregon’s Dundee Hills. Guests will walk among the old vine blocks, taking in 50 years of wine-growing history, and then taste wines from the vineyard parcels they visited before a hearty lunch at the estate. The hikes go ahead rain or shine, so appropriate footwear is recommended for this two-and-a-half to three hour experience, which costs $95 per guest.

Creating a unique wine

Iconic Washington State winery DeLille Cellars offers guests an opportunity to make their own unique blends based on some of the winery’s most prized lots. DeLille makes some of Washington’s most sought-after wines from vineyards on Red Mountain and in the Yakima Valley, including historic old-vine sites. Guests will be treated to a blending seminar from one of DeLille’s team before creating their own blends. The cost is $145 per guest.

Wine and food experiences

In pursuit of the finer things: Three Sticks caviar experience

The stellar wines of Three Sticks need no accompaniment, but everything is better with caviar. The Caviar Experience at Three Sticks is offered seasonally, from October to January. The tasting is held in partnership with San Francisco’s The Caviar Company, whose different varieties of caviar are paired with single-vineyard wines to showcase how one enhances the other. For $150 per club member and $175 per non-club member, this luxurious culinary experience is a well-priced gift for anyone on your nice list.

Creative pairings

For adventurous foodies, Sequoia Grove in Napa Valley’s Rutherford appellation offers a tasty way to explore the versatility of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sequoia Grove was a pioneering Cabernet house, established in 1979, and has since established unique programming, including a famed ampelography class for those who want to level up their wine knowledge and the A Taste for Cabernet Experience.

The gastronomic experience eschews predictable, classic pairings like steak with Cabernet for more offbeat options. Sequoia Grove’s single-vineyard and reserve wines accompany chef Britny Maureze’s multi-course menu, with culinary creativity that will open guests’ eyes to new approaches. The 90-minute experience costs $150 for non-wine-club members and $100 for members.

Vegetables growning in Wheeler Farms' kitchen garden.

The culinary gardens at Wheeler Farms. Credit: Sara Anne Risk

A three-course culinary lesson

Wheeler Farms, owned by Napa Valley’s famed Araujo family, offers a perfect gift for your favourite foodie. An acclaimed wine brand in its own right, Wheeler Farms is also home to chickens, an apiary, a large garden and fruit trees, all of which are included in their culinary programme, a homage to the agricultural history of the valley.

The Estate Tasting and Cooking Demonstration begins with a tour of the expansive gardens and the winery itself, followed by an up-close cooking demonstration with chef Tom Harder doing what he does best at the kitchen table. The four-course lunch and cooking demonstration is paired with Wheeler Farms wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, rosé and a number of unique Cabernet expressions. The experience lasts three hours and costs $350 per person for two-person parties, including a gift from the kitchen.

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