Alexander Valley Vineyards
By Maryann Hammers
Sonoma is the birthplace of the California wine country. But you'll love Sonoma County for the scenery, too. The area's dramatic coast, majestic redwoods, fields of poppies and golden mustard, winding country lanes, and rolling oak-studded hills make up the peaceful landscape. Read on to find your wine country deal:
Stay at a discount
Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa is a midcentury-modern gem, with an onsite spa, health club, and yoga/cycling studio. With 170-guestrooms and suites, the pet-friendly resort also features two heated pools, tennis courts, and an onsite restaurant and lounge with nightly entertainment. Military members (including retired servicemembers) are offered the federal per diem rate of $119 throughout 2015, representing a 20-percent savings. The discount is valid Sunday through Thursday only. Request the discount upon booking and show your military ID at check-in. (Tip: Before booking, first check the website's "Specials and Packages . You might find an even better price.) For more information, call (707) 545-8530.
Flash your military ID at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in the Alexander Valley for a complimentary tasting (regularly priced at $18) and 10 percent off wine purchases. You'll want to stay a while - the winery features wine-tasting bars, tours, two restaurants, a full bar, a pool, and a park area with game tables and bocce courts. Call for information: (707) 856-1471.
Alexander Valley Vineyards offers active duty and retired servicemembers two free reserve tastings straight from the barrel (regularly $10 a person, so a savings of $20). Complimentary cave tours also are available. The deal is valid through Dec. 31, 2015, and ID is required. (Tip: Be sure to check out the website for other good offers. At this writing, a coupon for free barrel tastings for up to six people is on the website, here .) Call (707) 433-7209.
Wine tastings (regularly $10-$15) are free to active duty and retired servicemembers at the family-owned Murphy-Goode tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. While you're there, linger in the lounge with communal tasting tables or enjoy the glorious weather outdoors where you also can play shuffleboard. Take a seat in the authentic old-school photo booth (but first grab your props: a purple feather boa or black mustache on a stick). The winery also supports Operation Homefront, a nonprofit charity that provides financial and other assistance to servicemembers. Fifty cents from each bottle of the red blend, Homefront Red , benefits the organization. Call (800) 499-7644.
Tour and taste - 25 to 50% off
"Our families have served in the military for years," says Kirsten L. Jones, owner of Wine Country Walking Tours in Healdsburg. Jones offers a 25-percent discount to active duty and retired military personnel and their spouses/partners. Valid on any four-hour guided Fine Wine and Foodie Walking Tour, regularly priced at $89 (so your price is $67). "This includes all the tasting fees, food, and beverages," Jones says. "You'll meet winemakers and mingle with locals as you visit three boutique tasting rooms for private, exclusive seated tastings of wine paired with delicious bites. You'll also stroll in artisan food shops throughout the day for chocolate tasting, premium luxury teas, ice cream, French bread, and olive oil." To receive the discount, call (707) 758-4725 and mention reference code USAVET. You'll also need to show your military ID at the start of tour. The discount is valid through Dec. 31, 2015.
For those over age 62, Dry Creek Valley Wine Tours offers a half-off discount on its "Red & White Tour." Regularly priced at $99, the price is just $49 when accompanied by a full-priced tour. "I want to encourage younger couples to bring their parents out for a memorable day of wine tasting in the tranquil countryside of Dry Creek Valley," says owner H. Bruce Smith. A picnic-style lunch served among the vines is included, plus stops at four wineries. (Tasting fees are extra.) "But fees are often waived when you buy wine," Smith notes. Smith spends time reviewing wine-tasting tips, proper serving temperatures, and the difference between drinking wine and tasting wine. "I take the tasters into the winery and introduce them to my friends working at the tasting bar," Smith says. "I answer questions, share the area's history and the various wineries' backgrounds." The offer is valid through September 2015. Call (866) 946-3826.