It's hard enough getting out of town for a jaunt to wine country, let alone finding the time to reserve winery visits and check any events you might be interested in.
If you don't do some planning, though, you might be shut out from the very events you'd most like to attend -- if only you'd known or planned ahead.
That's where a new search and reservation service for tasting rooms and wine events comes in. CellarPass says it "allows users to search for and reserve wine tastings and wine country experiences from a computer, tablet or smartphone." And this is key: You can do all that "in advance or on-the-go."
Hop on www.cellarpass.com and search by destination, date or specific winery. Clicking on Sonoma, for example, you can follow a Cabernet Sauvignon itinerary, look up wineries with winemaker tours, or click on the best of Dry Creek Valley, top picks in and around Healdsburg, or Sonoma gems worth the drive. The latter is more than just a list: Users can click on a button to make a reservation to visit. Just like that.
All the relevant information is there: availability, hours, addresses, wines, other features. It's as easy as making a dinner reservation on Open Table.
You can search by "family-friendly wineries," "wineries with private tastings," or "boutique wineries." Is there a pet-friendly category, I'm wondering? Let's see. Yes, there is a link to "pet-friendly," which turns up, among others, Lambert Bridge Winery, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, and Valley of the Moon Winery in Sonoma. Closer to home, I get just Wild Horse Winery in Templeton and Oso Libre Winery in Paso Robles. I know there are more pet-friendly wineries out there. In fact, the entire Central Coast region isn't very built-out yet on the site.
Want to search for wineries with bocce ball courts? You can do that too.
You can also search by events and find out that on Aug. 9, there will be a performance of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" in the Fountain Courtyard at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma ($25). Or that Oso Libre Winery in Paso Robles is hosting an "Asado Argentino Mid-Summer Night's Dinner" that same night ($85). Search by the date, the weekend, the month.
Everything that's going on in wine regions as disparate as Napa Valley, the Central Coast, Lake County, the Hudson River Region, the Finger Lakes, etc. is collected all in one place. Oddly, though, if they've New York vineyards, why no Oregon or Washington state events and wineries?
The site is useful now, but could be even more so with the Central Coast more fully built out and by adding Oregon and Washington wine country to the mix.
The CellarPass app for iPhone and iPad is free and can be downloaded here.