Ditch the wine and health studies and embrace a life of balance at these seven wine and wellness hot spots
Studies seem to come out weekly offering conflicting advice about the health benefits – or detriments – of alcohol. “A glass of beer or wine per day is fine for your health,” says one recent study of 4.8 million people conducted by researchers at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. “Sorry, wine lovers. No amount of alcohol is good for you, study says,” reads another headline about a different study.
The divisive nature of this topic could be why no one in wine wants to utter the words “drinking” and “health” in the same breath. And yet most of us love to enjoy a tipple or three as part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Few things bring me more joy than pouring a crisp, cold glass of Albariño or Chenin Blanc after a tough workout. And who hasn’t slurped back a frosty light beer after running that Turkey Trot or local 5K? Economist Emily Oster makes a great point when she notes a certain “pleasure-agnostic approach to health advice” happening with these studies in her recent piece, “Is a Glass of Wine Harmless? Wrong Question.”
The truth is, for many of us, there is likely no study that could come out that will have much of an impact on our consumption habits. Life is a series of calculated risks. From driving, to adventure activities, to sketchy gas station sushi, we’re all trying to experience our day-to-day, balancing fun and spontaneity with… well… preferably not dying. My daily wine consumption is one of those calculated risks, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. In the words of David Spiegelhalter, statistician and chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge “There is no safe level of living, but nobody would recommend abstention.”
So, Dry January and Sober October fanatics aside, let’s all just admit we are going to keep imbibing… at least for now.
Wellness in wine country is thriving
While we all love a great day of wine tasting, after two or three stops, it’s tough to not find yourself looking for something to break up the monotony (I know, first-world problems). Wineries across the country are seeing the opportunity to merge several popular lifestyle pillars, and have begun to integrate wellness-themed activities and offerings with their tasting experiences. As Lizzo would say, it’s about damn time.
From yoga to mindfulness, outdoor adventures to massage, these seven wineries have it all when it comes to helping you on your quest to find balance.
A wine club for the health club set at Akash Winery in Temecula Valley, California
Not only does this SoCal winery offer a robust, ongoing schedule of fitness and wellness classes like Pilates, yoga, barre, and spin, they offer a specific wellness-themed wine club for those who want to partake in detox-to-retox on the regular.
“My Indian upbringing – and some good-natured chiding from my incredible mother, Nalini (who recently passed away), inspired the creation of our Wellness Wine Club,” says owner Akash Patel. “Both of my parents stressed the importance of finding balance in life – engaging in activities that feed our mind, heart, body, and spirit. Wine is definitely a part of that mix. We wanted to take that balance one step further by offering a grounded, peaceful activity in our winery space.”
Akash says they have plans to collaborate with local health and wellness providers to offer discounts on massage, wellness products, and healing sessions as well.
A 360-degree approach to wellness at Eleven Eleven Winery in Napa Valley, California
Eleven Eleven winery, one of the only urban wineries located in Napa Valley, has had an employee gym for years. In fact, wellness is at the core of their identity. “We pride ourselves on creating connections and experiences that extend beyond wine, with a commitment to wellness, community, and sustainability,” says Ellie Anest, vintner and founder of Eleven Eleven Winery. “Building upon this philosophy, we recognize that wellness encompasses various aspects of well-being, including mental, emotional, and spiritual health.”
To that end, Eleven Eleven created the We11ness Experience, “which aims to make space for people to be fully present in the moment.” On the second Saturday of each month, guests can participate in healthy group exercise paired with the classic wine country experience. Upcoming classes include bootcamp and yoga, with others being added to the lineup regularly. “To top it off, we offer fresh juice options at the end of each session to nourish and refresh our attendees,” adds Anest.
Earn your sips with an epic hiking experience at Alma Rosa Winery in Santa Barbara, California
When your winery spans 628 acres of rugged mountain terrain, with unparalleled views of the Sta. Rita Hills, it would be a crime not to offer a good ol’ fashioned hike to go with your wine tasting. Thankfully, this Santa Barbara winery offers two hiking and tasting experiences “for those who are physically fit, and interested in combining their tasting experience with a memorable hike through the vineyards.”
“As an avid fitness enthusiast myself, I thought that offering hiking experiences would appeal to other like minded individuals visiting wine country,” says general manager, Debra Eagle. “The Caracol and Attente hiking experiences have proven to be very popular, and I am delighted by the increased interest in wine and wellness activities.”
Alma Rosa also hosts an annual fundraising walk through estate vineyards called Peace of Mind: 10,000 Steps in the Right Direction, which aims to benefit mental health community services, as well as fund research on the causes, treatments, and potential cures for anxiety and depression. Over the last three years the annual event has raised $545,000, with funds going directly to two charitable organizations: One Mind and Santa Barbara’s Mental Wellness Center.
Wine, massages, and laughter make the best medicine at Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, Arizona
In addition to their ongoing efforts to preserve the health of our planet, Page Springs Cellars is a wellness-seeker’s wine haven. Not only can you find exciting wines from the up-and-coming Verde Valley AVA, but you can also indulge in on-site massages either outdoors or in their new massage sala situated next to the running creek waters of Page Spring’ home vineyard. Fitness fans will also love the relaxing Creekside yoga sessions as well as hoop dancing classes that come with “guaranteed laughs.”
“I am excited to have the opportunity to share my love of the ancient arts of yoga and massage at Page Springs Cellars, alongside the ancient art of winemaking,” says massage therapist, yoga and dance instructor, and winery proprietor Gayle Glomski. “It is the perfect setting to inhale, exhale, relax and repeat.”
Prepare for – and recover from! – harvest at Archer Vineyard in Newberg, Oregon
Anyone who has ever worked a harvest knows how physically and mentally exhausting it can be, which is why Archer Vineyard views this as the perfect time of year to ramp up wellness offerings. “During the harvest season and winter months, we offer yoga for the local community and our harvest interns at our vineyard and winery property,” says general manager Sara Jivanjee, inspired by her parents – who taught her about the importance of community, acts of service, and inclusive spaces – to create wellness offerings at the winery. “We [also] host purpose driven-events featuring music, theater arts, art, cultural foods, and yoga and movement classes.
Pond-side yoga at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma, California
On the second Saturday of every month through Sept. 9, Ram’s Gate offers Yoga at the Pond. Surrounded by vineyards and facing the willow-lined pond, the hour long class, taught by Nadra McAuliffe of Lion Heart Yoga, focuses on the body-mind-spirit connection through moving flow and postures to build strength and flexibility. After the class, guests may enjoy a glass of wine and light bites created by Executive Chef Ruby Oliveros.
Fitness and foraging at Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, California
This Paso Robles winery partners with local yoga studio Dharma Yoga Loft to host “Yoga in the Vineyard” once a month. Classes take place at the winery’s stunning Oyster Ridge Barn, located in the middle of their breathtaking 14,000-acre Santa Margarita Ranch. Ancient Peaks wine, pastries, and orange juice are served after class.
Through their sister company Margarita Adventures, Ancient Peaks also offers foraging tours on their ranch. Full of wildlife and native plants, this property feels like a natural park and is the perfect backdrop for interactive outdoor experiences. This guided tour, led by ranch naturalist Jacqueline Redinger, takes visitors on “a journey through time and nature to discover a variety of plants that can be used for nutrition, beverages, and other healthful purposes.”