Sonoma Helicopter's fleet of choppers hardly ever stops spinning as they lead training, photography, and tour flights throughout the Sonoma Valley and wine country year round. Their thorough training program pairs classroom and flight sessions to produce pilots capable of taming wild helicopters, and the mountain-flying school further specializes chopper jockeys. Aside from aerial surveys that delve into animal populations, power-line patrols, and crop pollinations, the staff also takes to the air to give guests a bird's-eye view of Sonoma.
Locals Wine Tasting outfits sip-seeking palates in a tasty variety of grapey frocks, all crafted by 11 lauded and loved wineries. Corral a fellow oenophile or wine-fueled automaton for an informative tasting session, which features grape-blood goods from purveyors such as Dark Horse, Foggy Valley, Bedarra Vineyards, and more. The session's flight tastings imbue suppers with a wine-filled cornucopia of vino-based knowledge, such as tasting and pairing tips and how to build a suitable flotation device from leftover corks. All participants leave with a bottle of 2008 Foggy Valley Leras Vineyard, RRV chardonnay, a fruity brew with hints of green apple, white nectarine, and melon.
A restored Queen Anne structure in Sonoma wine country, Grape Leaf Inn won NBC11's award for best area bed and breakfast for two consecutive years. Six available guestrooms await visitors, each equipped with a king or queen bed. A bottle of old-vine zinfandel (a $37.50 value), recently liberated from its oaken prison, regales sippers with tales of life on the inside. Downstairs, the speakeasy offers complimentary vine-blood samplings that awaken the unexplainable urge for more, as well as an intimate setting for romantic paper-football games. Excellent breakfasts of local produce and freshly roasted coffee also await visitors. Wineries available for tastings vary based on date of stay.
Named for the iconic director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery gratifies grape groupies with a wide array of virtuosic vinos. Pirouette your way into the Bottling Ballet Mechanique tour for a chance to examine the winery’s bottling process, which is exactly the same process used to bottle model ships. From the huge barrels of grape soup in which wines are born to the priceless glass containers into which they’re packaged, the 45-minute tour—which takes its name from the way each bottle shimmies and pirouettes down the line—gives guests the chance to see and more fully comprehend how wine comes to take its uniformly bottle-like shape. Visitors also learn the back-stories behind the winery’s labels and take part in a palate-expanding tasting, completing the beautiful circle of libationary life.
Sprouting from the remnants of a kosher winery in Green Valley, Cahill Winery expanded production to a variety of traditional reds, whites, dessert wines, and vinegars. The varietals are sourced from regions around California such as the North Coast and the Alexander Valley viticultural areas. German shorthair dogs and livestock welcome guests to the winery, where the Payne family has cultivated an organic garden and struck a champagne well that erupts from deep within the earth.