Gratitude to WSJ.com for the following yoga lifestyle story.
Yoga is better on a terrace overlooking vineyards, especially when followed by lunch and three pours.
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PHOTO: AUBRIE PICK PHOTOGRAPHY
By ERIN GEIGER SMITH
A small group of women walked through Merlot grape vines on a breezy morning last week headed to a sprawling lawn for one of Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s newest offerings—yoga.
Wölffer, based in Sagaponack, N.Y., has been best known for the annual run on its rosé at Hamptons wine stores during beach season. The winery started offering a few on-site yoga and boot camp classes last summer, and they were so popular that it increased the number of fitness sessions to six per week this year. “Sundays on the Terrace” with pastries and Bellinis coincides with the ‘Morning Flow’ class.
“A lot of people go to yoga … and come back and pick up their wine for the weekend,” says winery co-owner Joey Wolffer. She calls the program a “no-brainer” because the winery’s expansive property can accommodate workout-seeking visitors.
A number of U.S. wineries have begun offering fitness classes including yoga, Pilates and boot camp-like training, usually followed by wine tastings. Wineries hope to tap into a fitness crowd and attract wine lovers who want more than the traditional tasting and a cheese plate.
Exercise and alcoholic beverages aren’t typically thought of as going hand in hand. But wine has a reputation as a relatively healthy beverage choice and people often feel they deserve a treat after exercising. An offering of yoga with refreshing wine and small bites makes a workout “not something you have to do, but something you get to do,” says Cate Ritter, a nutritionist based in Pebble Beach, Calif. Drink some water after yoga and before wine, she suggests.
Anne Wilner, a special events producer, went to California’s Marin County last fall with six girlfriends to celebrate her wedding. They had a private yoga class and lunch for $125 a person at the Domaine Carneros winery, in Napa. “It combined the three things we love—food, wine, and working out,” she says.
The hour-long yoga session took place on a lawn next to the Domaine Carneros chateau, she says, and was followed quickly by a glass of bubbly, a brief stroll through the winery and a light brunch on the vineyard’s patio, with more wine.
Ms. Wilner keeps a bottle of the winery’s brut rosé in her kitchen, planning to pop it open the next time the group is together.
“We kept coming back to this concept of wellness and wine,” says Benjamin Rotnicki,director of marketing at Domaine Carneros. The winery now also offers a “brut camp,” including sprints up the chateau stairs. It costs $175 per person for a group of six. Groups can book yoga with a “recharge station,” including a lesson on winemaking and organic farming, and a tasting of not-yet-released wines—$1,500 for a group of ten.
When customers aren’t connoisseurs, if they “create a memory at your winery,” they are more likely to recall the name of your wine and buy it later, says Samantha Rudd, general manager of Clos Pegase, in Calistoga, Calif.
“I’ve lived close to this winery for seven years, and I’d never been here,” says Nikita Mehta, a graduate student and Calistoga resident. She has now attended multiple yoga classes at Clos Pegase, where Mount St. Helena serves as a backdrop, and is considering the winery for a party she will be hosting in the fall. A Friday morning Vinyasa flow session costs $25.
Drinking after working out hasn’t been strange at all, says Ms. Mehta. She says the winery chose light options that went with the “exercise vibe,” including a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. “It’s not like you’re working out and drinking a Cab,” she says, referring to the heavier red wine.
Guests are greeted with locally-made juice and house-made granola bars, and the yoga is followed by fruit, scones and three pours of wine. The winery chose Friday mornings so visitors could get in a workout before a weekend of imbibing.
Wineries’ fitness classes offer a way to feel healthy—especially before or after a night of indulging—without having to interrupt your outdoor-focused weekend with a class in a windowless cycling studio, Ms. Wolffer says. “Hello, look around us, look what we have,” says Ms. Wolffer, waving at the blue sky and rows of vines.
Yoga instructors are also building vineyard-related programs. Jamie Taylor, owner of Unique Yoga Events, has organized about 40 classes at five different wineries along New Jersey’s wine trail for the spring and summer—a $25 ticket gets you an hour-long class and a tasting.
In Washington state’s Yakima Valley, yoga studio owner Whitney Schmella is starting her second summer teaching $10 classes at various wineries. “It’s really cool to be able to do sun salutations while you’re literally under the sun,” Ms. Schmella says. She plans to offer hot-yoga as the summer temperatures rise. The participating wineries open their tasting rooms a little early to accommodate the yoga students, she says, and almost every one leaves with a bottle or two.
It’s increasingly common for clients to fit in a workout before starting a day of heavy meals and wine tastings, says Paul Bailey, owner of Napa Valley Wine Excursions. Exercise classes help a winery stand out among the roughly 800 wineries in Napa and Sonoma, he says.
Vineyard 29 in St. Helena, Calif., offers private yoga, Pilates and barre classes followed by lunch and a three-wine tasting. The barre is the terrace railing, so students do lunges overlooking the vineyard. “We make it very clear you’re not in the studio,” the winery’s sales director, Holly Anderson, says.