Splendor On the Grass

Go for the wine, stay for the views—and a leisurely picnic. Here’s your invitation to trek beyond the tasting rooms and dine among the vines.


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Tasting rooms and patios certainly have their charms. But when touring wine country, wouldn’t it be nice to taste and buy a few bottles. Then, with your picnic basket and blanket in tow, find a shaded grassy spot on the estate and lay about drinking in the vino and the vineyard’s vistas?  We think so too. And so do most wineries. Assuming there’s space and it’s allowed, most producers want you to enjoy their wine while creating memorable moments. “People always tell us how much they enjoy the picnic experience,” says Sherry Simmons, tasting room manager at WillaKenzie Estate Winery in Yamhill, Oregon. “And you know what happens? They come back. That’s a win-win.”

To give you a proverbial push out of doors, here’s where to go and what to bring on your alfresco adventure.

Wineries with Jaw-Dropping Vistas

Napa Valley
Rutherford Hill Winery: The breathtaking views sweep from valley floor vineyards to crags of the Mayacamas Mountains.

Columbia Valley, WA
Cave B Estate Winery: Perched 900 feet above the Columbia River, the winery features tables shaded by trellises plus a trail to the river. 

Texas Hill Country
Becker Vineyards: The estate includes a 19th-century homestead cabin, peach orchards, and scent-laden lavender fields.

Northern Michigan
Chateau Chantal: A French-style winery and B&B, it overlooks East and West Grand Traverse Bays plus rolling vineyards. 

Willamette Valley
WillaKenzie Estate Winery: The hilltop setting affords vistas of the valley and the region’s prime Pinot terroir. 

Wineries with Picnic Packages

Napa Valley
Clos Pegase: Enjoy a boxed lunch—sandwich, salad, fruit and homemade cookies—beneath walnut and fig trees (48 hours’ notice). 

Central Virginia
Early Mountain Vineyards: On the balcony or expansive lawns, visitors can savor local cheeses, hams, charcuterie and more. 

Monterey County
Hahn Winery: After a guided ATV tour through vineyards, guests enjoy tapas along with reserve and small-production wines. 

Sonoma County
Lynmar Estate: Think fresh—the chef uses ingredients from the surrounding gardens to craft dishes that enhance the estate wines. 

Paso Robles, CA
Vina Robles: The package includes wine tastings plus a glass of your favorite to pair with a wine country lunch. 

Master the Moveable Feast

Cheese and sausage rule as perennial favorites, while sandwiches transport tastes from hand to mouth neatly. Other eligible edibles serve up bite-size morsels that taste good at moderate temperatures—no worries about keeping items hot or cold. Avoid the potentially soggy or meltables like bruschetta and, alas, chocolate. And be sure to skip spoil-sports like fish or anything too mayo-laden. As for wine, taste the reds indoors, but pack whites for the basket. “Since it’s warm—and especially if your picnic is a pit stop on your tasting tour that day—choose something light and refreshing,” recommends Ann Davis, wine director at Kenwood Inn and Spa in Kenwood, California (kenwoodinn.com). “I like crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc. Sparkling wines are always fun and refreshing, as are bright, dry rosés.”

Pack It Up 

You already know to bring the basics, such as plates, cutlery, napkins and bug spray. But be sure to carry glasses; most wineries don’t allow stemware outside the tasting room. And if you’re sick and tired of buying a new, el cheapo corkscrew on every trip you take because of airport security, then say hello to your new TSA-proof bottle popper.

The Boomerang ($10) has a built-in foil cutter and screw that passes screening checks.

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