Confession: Until last year, I’d never actually been wine tasting at a winery. I know, such a shame, right?
Then, last Valentine’s Day, our friends invited my husband and I to join them for a chartered bus trip to tour a number of Fresno County wineries. We purchased tickets for the Wine and Chocolate Lovers Weekend on the Fresno County Wine Journey through Golden Eagle Charter. Wow, was that one of the most fun, relaxing, and enjoyable days I think my husband and I have ever had. Plus, it was such a nice change of pace from waiting to get into a restaurant for dinner on Valentine’s Day, or choosing an off weeknight instead to avoid the crowds.
This year, Golden Eagle is chartering the similarly named Madera Wine and Chocolate Weekend. You can’t go wrong with either trail—Fresno or Madera—from what I understand, but may I politely implore you, if you enjoy wine, to try wine tasting this Valentine’s Day weekend at either?
During last year’s chartered tour, we enjoyed tastings at four locations. Our first stop was Yribarren Family Vineyard located at 12333 W. Neilson in Kerman. Yribarren had a small craft fair, beautiful outdoor seating area, and a rich, sweet Sangiovese wine that our entire group fell in love with. They also had a homemade ice cream vendor, Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream, that offered a number of rich, creamy flavors we couldn’t resist.
Our next stop was A. Nonini Winery at 2640 N Dickenson Ave. in Fresno. A. Nonini is a family winery that’s been in operation for over 75 years, and prides itself on making wine “the old world way” using few preservatives and creating wines with a “big fruit” taste. At A. Nonini, we enjoyed chicken tacos from a great vendor, and some outdoor, pop-up boutique shopping. The tasting area in the barrel room at A. Nonini was huge, dark, and filled with beautiful wood barrels and sparkling white lights —it was quite a romantic setting.
The third stop was Lomac Winery at 2674 N. Westlawn in Fresno. This location really made things a lot of fun. They had a photo booth set up complete with goofy props, numerous tasting stations, food vendors (including a chocolate fountain!), lawn games, and even a large warehouse room with ag equipment on display that you could check out. We had such a great time at Lomac!
Our final stop was Engelmann Cellars, 3275 N. Rolinda Ave. in Fresno. If you’ve ever been to Engelmann for a wedding or Friday night movie or concert, you already know it’s enchanting. The winery had a wide variety of wines available for tasting, and a large indoor vendor fair (I ended up leaving with a beautiful heart-shaped ring to commemorate the day), plus an awesome taco vendor and fun photo op area.
For Valentine’s Day weekend this year, we were struggling to decide whether to take the bus tour to Madera or to designate a driver and head back to some of the places we loved so much last year. Ultimately, we decided we want to go back to some of the wineries on the west side of Fresno County, so perhaps you’ll see us out there if you join in on the fun.
If you’re looking for something special to do this Valentine’s weekend, making a day of enjoying our beautiful, local wineries could be just the ticket.
For More Information
• Golden Eagle Chartered Tour to the Madera Wine and Chocolate Weekend Wineries is $45. Tickets can be found here.
• If you’re interested in attending the Madera Wine and Chocolate Weekend without the chartered bus, information can be found here.
• If you’d like to attend the Fresno County Wine and Chocolate Lovers Weekend, here is the information for that (18 total wineries and breweries will be participating this year!)
See you out on the wine trail!