Uber Is Doing Wine Tours Now and Vineyard Hopping Has Never Been Easier
You don't need to be in France or Italy to taste amazing wine. Sure, a wine tour in Tuscany is never a bad idea, but sometimes funds and vacation days don't allow for a 10-day jaunt around the Italian countryside. What you may not realize is there are a lot of world-class wines being made and served up here in the U.S. — and not just in Napa Valley.
While wine touring is always good fun, planning a wine tour isn't exactly a challenge I'm up to. I'm not opposed to renting a limo or bus, but I'm hesitant to take on the logistics of getting seven people to book a car and throw down money ahead of time. So, in keeping with my belief that nothing dampens a wine tour like nominating a designated driver, I tried out UberWINE and got chauffeured around the Santa Barbara wineries.
All I had to do was call an UberWINE from the app (it's in the specialty Ubers, if you swipe to the left of UberX), and 15 minutes later, I was in an UberWINEXL heading to the Santa Ynez Valley. UberWINE drivers stay with you all day, so you don't have to call five different cars to get around the wineries. Our driver, Bob, waited patiently at every stop. And he showed me photos of the house he's building in the Philippines using money he made from driving Uber. Suffice it to say, he's my travel hero.
The Santa Ynez Valley wineries, which are just a 30-minute drive from Santa Barbara, are really a wine lover's ultimate hidden gem. The rolling hills and wine country vibes are something right out of "Call Me By Your Name." And the wineries themselves have the aesthetic appeal of Napa Valley without the mobs of people and $40 tasting fees.
If you're planning a Southern California wine country trip this summer, you'll first want to hit Babcock Winery & Vineyards, which is part rustic winery, part vintage store. There are barrels of wine on one end of the property, and rooms covered with old vinyl records on the other. Next up, check out Sunstone Winery, home to a patio that could lead even the least photogenic among us to Instagram fame. Sunstone also let us taste wine by candlelight in a wine cave. Yes, a wine cave. (And anyone in Southern California looking for romantic places to propose should know that the wine cave in question has hosted 20 successful proposals.)
If you're staying in Santa Barbara, have your Uber stop at C'est Cheese, so you can grab snacks for a winery picnic. We stayed at the Kimpton Canary Hotel, which has a dreamy rooftop pool — there may be no better place to relax after a day of wine-drinking than in a poolside cabana under the palm trees.
You can find UberWINE in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo (if you're looking to hit the Paso Robles wineries), Napa, Sonoma, and Valle de Guadalupe, which is pretty much the Napa of Baja California. And don't forget you can split the price of your UberWINE tour in the app, which will spare you from hounding your friends for money when you're nursing a hangover the next day.