DRINK – Get out of the tasting room for a killer view

It’s not enough for a winery to have a tasting room these days. They’ve got to offer an “experience” and make it unique. The folks at Kunde Family Estate understand this.  The winery is a 100% estate winery, on 1850 acres, with 700 acres of it planted to vines. It’s a beautiful property. If you saw Bottleshock, much of the movie was filmed at Kunde. The boxing ring is still there.

Sure, Kunde has a tasting room, and you can stand at the bar, or sign up for a seated reserve tasting. But the best way to experience Kunde is to get out of the tasting room for one of the best views of Sonoma wine country.

Fourth generation family winegrower Jeff Kunde’s always thinking of what’s next. I met up with him at the winery to see his latest project, the Mountain Top Tasting. It was Jeff’s idea to create this, by clearing out dense brush on a spot that offers spectacular views. We drive through the vineyards while going up higher and higher, until we’re there, at about 1400 ft in the Mayacamas Mountains. You pass through a rustic gate, walk down a path, and then suddenly, there’s a 180-degree view of the Sonoma Valley. Breathtaking? It’s beyond. Take a moment to enjoy the view:

Jeff says that seeing the valley this way helps his visitors get a real lay of the land. As you taste several wines here you can also see the particular vineyard where the grapes were grown. Kunde is known for Zinfandel, and you see the 100+ year old vines down below you.
You could spend all day here, and Jeff says sometimes he has a hard time getting visitors to leave. I understand. I could sit there all day with a glass of Zin and be very very happy.

You’ll need a reservation for the Mountain Top tasting, which for now is offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $25 per person, which I have to say, is very reasonable.

But that’s not all. Kunde also offers two more out-of-the-tasting room experiences: an Eco-Hike and a Hike & Taste in the Vineyards.  Many of the Eco-Hikes, which are about 3 miles long through the Kunde ranch and vineyards (about 4 hours) are also Dog Hikes. Kunde has got to be the most dog-friendly winery around – they’ve got plenty of doggie snacks and a water bar for the dogs (of course there’s lunch and water for the dog walkers and owners, with a little wine tasting). Plus, a portion of the hike tour fee is donated to Canine Companions and the Sonoma County Humane Society. Another bonus – Jeff Kunde leads many of the Eco- and Dog Hikes. How many winery owners do you know who spend four hours with visitors? Pretty cool.

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