Talley Rose wineThe winter holidays are often more of a chaotic shopping event than a celebration of friends, family and/or faith as we scurry about buying for everyone on our list.

A physical gift certainly can convey the magic of the season, but a gift that just crosses a name off a list is another matter. As an alternative to the latter, the gift of an experience is a great solution.

Earlier this month, I took my in-laws wine tasting – a totally new experience for them. We spent a beautiful afternoon enjoying a stunning property, enjoying a bit of wine and a few bites. Everyone had fun but more importantly it allowed the time and space for conversations we never would have had at my house or theirs. In our family, these experiences last much longer than hastily purchased items.

Our family’s visit was to Talley Vineyards which requires a reservation in advance as do most tasting rooms now. The $30/person tasting fee is waived for wine club members (Club memberships are also a great gift idea.) 

Personally, I belong to two wineries, Talley Vineyards and Daou. Each allows me to bring up to three additional people for no charge. I consider the waived tasting fees when calculating the cost of membership. Thinking of membership this way, I get early access to new vintages, tasting notes, regular shipments and free tastings throughout the year for myself. Joining wineries in different regions is a great way to experience how terroir and climate affect the final wines.

Our county is blessed with a selection of wineries that borders on ridiculous. Wine and tourism organizations (see sidebar for a few suggestions) are great starting points to find tasting rooms, getaways, tours and more.


Start Here

Here’s just a few of the wine and tourism organizations with great information about the Central Coast wine region. 

Discover California Wines 

San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective


Wine Country  – Wine Country also covers a lot of other regions if you wish to gift travel with your wine

Discover California Wines

Photos: Top, One of the outdoor tasting tables at Daou. Photo courtesy of Daou Family Estates. Top left, Talley’s 2020 Rose at the outdoor tasting area. Photo by Shari Sullivan. Below, the charcuterie board at Talley is available for an additional fee. Photo by Shari Sullivan

Talley's charcuterie board

Talley offers a charcuterie board for a reasonable additional fee. It was a huge hit with everyone at the table. I highly recommend purchasing one of their small plates to avoid the alcohol sneaking up on you. They do not allow outside food at the winery, but a budget alternative would be to bring snacks in the car.