Here in California wine country, there are many, many ways to visit wineries. Most people drive. Some go on bus tours. A few hire a limo. And the uber-fit ride bikes.
But as someone looking for fun filled adventure with my wine tasting, I knew there was really only one way to go – the ‘segway’ way.
Which is how I ended up standing in the carpark of the Sonoma Cheese factory earlier this week, watching Hunt Ballie, the owner of Sonoma Segways, unload a dozen segway transporters and set them up ready to roll. Assisted by ‘G’, his enthusiastic and entertaining employee, it didn’t take long to get everything in working order. Next came the requisite paperwork, helmet fitting, and a thorough segway operating tutorial that ensured that all twelve of us were feeling comfortable with our new toy means of transport.
One minute we were all standing nervously around the machines, wondering how in the world we would manage to control these monsters. Granted, I had ridden a segway before in Madrid, but it was a few years ago and The next, we were zipping around the carpark, weaving in and out. We were definitely good to go.
With ‘G’ leading the way, we headed single file along the path, sounding like a swarm of bubble bees. Heads turned as we whizzed by, with kids pointing, and people asking ‘what’s that?’
First stop was gothic revival style home of General Mariano Vallejo, a Spanish native who played a large part in the evolution of California from Mexican district to American state. Named ‘Lachryma Montis’ (mountain tears), the house, interestingly, was one of the original kit-set houses ordered from Sears.
It would be the first of many photo stops while passing houses, shops, and vineyards on our way to Bartholomew Park Winery located at the top of a hill just two miles east of downtown Sonoma.
Hopping off the segways and heading for the tasting room, Ballie and ‘G’ gave us some sage advice – ‘taste in moderation’. Apparently ‘drunk in charge of segway’ isn’t part of the tour plan. And we still had plenty of segway riding to do.
Bartholomew Winery offered not only wines easy on the palate, but also had a small wine museum that documented this area’s colourful history.
But while the winery visit was interesting, the call of segway was hard to resist. We wanted to get going. To feel the wind against our faces. To be a child and play. By this time even the initially timid were zipping along with huge grins on their faces.
On the ride back to downtown Sonoma, we stopped at the Vella Cheese Co. where we toured the facility and then sat outside in the sun, tasting twelve varieties of cheese. A perfect moment. All that was missing was a glass of wine.
And then, all too soon, it was time to pack up and return the segway to the carpark.
Sure wish I could find time to do it all again.
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