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Wine in the great outdoors: Cabana tastings are good match for the times

Wine in the great outdoors: Cabana tastings are good match for the times

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If you’ve been dreaming of sipping a fruity drink from a poolside cabana in a faraway place, a handful of wineries have the next best thing: private and socially-distanced wine tastings — some with food pairings — inside luxe, outdoor cabanas. No swimsuit required.

Charles Krug WineryYou could say the timing of Charles Krug Winery debuting five new, WiFi-enabled cabanas that allow for socially distant, outdoor tastings, was serendipitous. The cabanas were an idea from Krug staff members during a Shark Tank-type competition in which employees pitched ideas for improving the business.

“One group came up with the idea to create cabanas and other improvements to our back lawn behind the historic Redwood Cellar, which serves as our tasting room,” said Jim Morris, vice president of Estate Management and Guest Relations at Charles Krug. “Our DTC (direct-to-consumer) staff and that group worked with contractors to make it a reality in the spring of 2020, just in time for the shelter-in-place orders.”

These private cabana experiences are fully customizable and guests can choose from a selection of wine flights, bottles, and culinary fare for pairing. Two-hour bookings start at a buyout of $400 ($300 club members) for up to six people, which isn’t so costly once you divide it up among your group. For details, visit charleskrug.com.

Louis M. Martini WineryAs part of their renovation completed in 2019, Louis M. Martini Winery debuted R&R-ready cabanas in their tranquil Martini Park. Curated like an elevated picnic experience, a flight of five wines are paired with a basket full of delights prepared by the on-site culinary team, from cheese and salami to duck rillette, truffle popcorn, charred bell peppers, and a wild mushroom and truffle pizza. You can also expect something sweet for dessert: butterscotch cookies and cabernet-infused chocolates.

Available Thursday-Sunday, cabanas can hold up to six guests and are priced at $100 a person for a two-hour experience. For details, visit louismartini.com.

Domaine ChandonCozy up in a summer-chic cabana made for Instagram at Domaine Chandon. For $95 per person, up to six people can spend the afternoon lounging al-fresco on cushy couches, sharing bottles of Chandon’s Etoile Brut and Rose and noshing on a seasonal lunch of salads, cheeses, skewers, and dessert. For details, visit chandon.com.

Alpha Omega WineryVisitors to Alpha Omega can look out at their legendary fountains from one of four cabanas on the Vineyard Terrace, which also overlooks estate Sauvignon Blanc vines. Draped in billowy, beige fabric, the cabanas can seat up to six at a farm table for a private and in-depth tasting, available daily and ranging from $75-$150 per person, depending on the wine selection.

“The cabanas were designed to bring our exclusive, indoor private tasting experiences to the fresh outdoors where guests can enjoy our signature and limited production wines with the same high-level of hospitality,” said Alpha Omega vintner Michelle Baggett, who explained that until now, guests were often torn between the private experience and sitting out on the terrace. “Now, they can receive both simultaneously from the cabanas on the Vineyard Terrace, where they are literally steps from the vines. We are excited to now offer the best of both worlds to wine lovers.” For details, visit aowinery.com.

Flowers Vineyards & WineryIf you’re up for a little drive or day trip, the House of Flowers in Healdsburg by the venerable Sonoma Coast brand Flowers Vineyards & Winery has cabanas set within their lush and colorful gardens. The new Bottle & Provisions tasting ($75 per person, available Fridays and Saturdays) is a contact-less experience consisting of a bottle of either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay paired with picnic provisions by local Sonoma restaurants, including Healdsburg’s three Michelin-starred SingleThread. There’s also the option for a guided tasting flight in a cabana for $45 per person, offered Friday-Sunday. For details, visit flowerswinery.com.

Watch now: A Matt Parish wine tasting

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