With Fall firmly underway, there is no better time to visit some of your favorite Sonoma County wineries but why walk through the vineyards when you can Segway through them?
With the breathtaking colors that the vineyards bring this time of year, and the harvest in full swing, and grapes hanging ripe on the vines, and perfect weather, there is no better reason to spend your afternoon wine tasting here in Northern California. And while renting a limo for the afternoon, or riding along on a charter certainly makes for a fun filled day, trust me when I say that you haven’t really seen the vineyards until you’ve done it by Segway.
Segway of Healdsburg:
If you’ve never been on a Segway you have to put it on your list of things to do. Segways are always fun just by no matter where you’re off to but combine the experience of riding a Segway with the visceral sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of some of the world-class that await you here in Dry Creek Valley of northern Sonoma Country combined with the opportunity to taste and savor some of the best wines from the heart of wine county, you just can’t beat it when it comes to having one of the best overall experiences that can had in one of the most colorful locations to be found anywhere.
It was actually a Groupon deal that first led us to Segway of Healdsburg where The Deal where we very easily bought and booked our Russian River Winery Segway Tour. The staff were accommodating and immediately let you feel as though you were in very capable hands and went out of their way for us at every step of the way, even with my countless questions.
Our adventure started in Healdsburg, located just 65 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Northern Sonoma County where our guides greeted us for the day worked with each person in the group as we mastered the art of the Segway, which is much easier to use than I ever imagined. After our lesson and safety briefing, we were off and on our way for a two-hour Russian River Winery tour. Our tour began by exploring Grant Avenue, which is known for its sweeping views, beautiful vistas, and of course many boutique vineyards that fill the countryside here.
Our first stop was the Viszlay Vineyards, a warm and welcoming family owned boutique winery which is home to a thirteen hundred square foot winery building that sits at the top of gentle slopes and rolling hills.
The Viszlay Vineyards specialize in making small lot, estate wines from our 10-acre vineyard. We were greeted by John Viszlay who offered us a wide variety of wines to sample. Nestled amongst the 12 varietals that they grow, including the only Prosecco grapes in Sonoma County, John explained to us that they use sustainable farming methods and embrace the traditional wine making styles that produce soft, elegant and balanced wines.
Among the wines you can discover here include two Chardonnay varietals, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Alicante Bouschet and the only domestically grown Prosecco in Sonoma County. Prominently displayed are the many awards that Viszlay has garnered over the years.
Run with his son and partner Tony, their focus is on building the brand and bringing a smile to the faces of those who drink our wine and I can say without hesitation that they have done just that.
Vineyards to Villages’ Wine Tour (V2V)
My favorite part of our visit with John was learning that Viszlay is part of the Vineyards to Villages’ (V2V) Wine Tour that features 10 boutique, family-owned wineries in the Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys including Viszlay, that are committed to supporting people living in poverty in rural East Africa. Created for the purpose of partnering with the wine industry to bring clean water to African communities in recognition of the need for clean, accessible water in remote parts of Africa, tour participants and other donors hope to eventually sponsor some of the most expansive privately funded water projects in Africa. This year the winery owners chose to fund water systems for schools in a very poor, dry area of Kenya. The project, called KKC WASH, will provide clean, accessible water and hygiene education for children at up to 20 schools in the Kasipul Kabando Constituency (KKC). These wineries designated a “V2V Wine” in each of their tasting rooms, and half of the sales price of V2V wines will go directly to their first school, Apondo Primary School near Oyugis, Kenya.
The second winery on our Segway tour was the Foppiano Vineyards, boasting 120-year roots in the Russian River Valley. Founded in 1896 the Foppiano Vineyards sits on a 160-acre estate in Russian River Valley.
In their tasting room we learned that their estate vineyards have produced a wide variety of award winning wines including their renown Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vineyards.
You can feel the generations and history and the stories that the vineyards hold all around you and it is apparent that the Foppiano Vineyards is a family epic full of tradition, perseverance and contributions to the history of Sonoma County and the wine industry. The perfect way to enjoy an afternoon is with a glass of Petite Sirah in hand, sitting out on the patio of the Foppiano tasting room, taking in the beauty of the vineyards imagining what it was like when they were first planted 120 years before.
Sadly time flies by when you’re having fun and all too soon it was time to head back but with other wineries awaiting to be explored, or the possibility of seeing Armstrong Woods and the majestic Redwoods Trees from the vantage of a Segway, it may have been our first Segway adventure, but it certainly won’t be our last. Thank you Segway of Healdsburg for a wine tasting adventure like no other.
Things to know before you go:
Starting and Ending Point:
Healdsburg Park and Ride — 2+ hours from the tour’s starting time.
THINGS TO BRING
- Comfortable shoes. Wear tennis shoes or other sturdy, closed-toe shoes that you would ordinarily go for a long walk in.
- Layers of clothing. The temperature can vary quite a bit on a given ride. The Segways are equipped with front storage compartments so you can add and subtract clothing as required.
- ID and some money — The $10 tasting fee is not included but is waived with purchases, and each Segway can hold up to two bottles of wine along with your other personal items.
- Cameras are optional∗ Segway of Healdsburg will photo and video document your tour for you at no extra charge. You will be sent a link to the pictures and videos after the tour. You are welcome to bring your own camera as well.
- Extra water if it is very warm. Segway of Healdsburg will supply each rider 1 bottle of water. Sometimes it is good to have more.
- The tours go rain or shine, but in the event of truly terrible weather, as was the case the day we went, they do their best to to communicate with you, and give you a choice of going in the rain, or rescheduling. Luckily for us, the rain held of until the very end.
∗Photographs and video clips.
Storage compartment on Segway
Dedicated i2 Segway
Why walk through the vineyards when you can ride? The next time you’re looking for the best in fun, the beauty of the Sonoma County vineyards with a little wine tasting on the side, look no further than Segway of Healdsburg.
∗Note when we did our tour for whatever reason there were no photos or videos taken that day so I was glad we both brought cameras with us