Naggiar launching fully guided tram tours of its vineyard in June, a first in the foothills

Naggiar Vineyards in Grass Valley is launching fully guided, 13-person tram tours of its scenic vineyard starting in June in an ultramodern electric shuttle — a first in the Sierra foothills, our magazine has learned.

The informative vineyard tours — literally a “vine to wine” experience — further distinguishes the Sierra foothills as a premier “destination” for wine tasting, increasingly a draw for visitors from the Bay Area, Sacramento, Reno and points in between. Locals also will get a close-up look at wine grape growing and winemaking.

The 60-70 minute tours in the brand new “Eco Shuttle”  also highlights the breadth and depth of Naggiar’s own operations, which includes a 2,500-square-foot Tuscan-inspired wine tasting room, bistro, and 60 acres of vineyards planted with 17 varietals — all on a 135-acre estate in a bucolic setting. All of Naggiar’s award-winning wines are estate grown, produced and bottled. (Derek Irwin of Napa is the consulting winemaker).

The winery is located about one hour east of Sacramento, north of Interstate 80. This road less traveled—west of Hwy. 49 between Auburn and Grass Valley—is surrounded by picturesque hillsides, studded with oak trees and fields of wildflowers. Coveys of quail are visible along the rural lane.

Wine enthusiasts can get a “sneak peek” of Naggiar’s “Eco Shuttle People Mover” at Naggiar’s annual wine release party on Saturday. (Here are the first photos of the tram). Saturday also is the first of three regional Sierra Vintners’ regional Wine Trail events this year, and Naggiar is one of the stops.

The tours in the “green,” zero-emissions tram will run on weekends starting in June. Traveling via the Eco-Shuttle, the tours will include stops in the vineyard, as well as wine tasting and cheese pairings on a knoll overlooking the vineyard. Then the tram will head to the winery for a first-hand look at the winemaking process and wine tastings directly from the barrel. A video program will detail the history of the family-owned vineyard.

“People are passionate about our wines and since great wines start in the vineyards, we thought it would be a good idea to showcase and educate visitors and customers about our vineyards and farming practices so that they can see firsthand and appreciate the role of vineyards in producing award-winning wines,” said Mike Naggiar, founder and co-owner of Naggiar Vineyards.

Ever wondered why the saying “Great wines start with the vineyards?” or why blends make better wines? Why are some wines “smooth”, sweet or semi-sweet while some are too “dry” and make your mouth pucker? Why do some wines cost $6 a bottle and others $60? “Come and learn about our vineyards, farming practices and see firsthand the role the vineyard plays in producing great wines,” added co-owner and tasting room manager Mary Naggiar.

Tickets for the tours are being offered on Naggiar’s website at www.NaggiarVineyards.com, in the tasting room or by calling 530-268-9059. The cost is $40 per person or $35 per person for wine club members. Participants will get to keep their wine glass as a souvenir from the tour. (You must be 21 or older to go on the tour).

In Sonoma County, Benziger Family Winery offers 45-minute tram tours of its vineyard and winery, which have become popular with wine enthusiasts. Benziger’s tour has been named Sonoma Valley’s best wine tour in 2012 and 2015. “It is a very lovely tram tour, and I felt like I was a winemaking expert at the end,” one participant said.

Along with the special preview of the new Eco-Shuttle, Naggiar’s annual New Wines Release Party on Saturday includes tastings of the newly released wines, barrel tastings, and live music by LOPSided from 1-4 p.m. There is no cost to attend the event.

Following the New Wines Release Party, Naggiar offers its first Tribute of 2016 on May 21- the talented Life in the Fast Lane, a tribute to the music of The Eagles. The 2016 Tribute Series continues through September on Naggiar’s waterfront stage.

At Tribute shows, Naggiar’s wines are available for purchase by the glass and by the bottle and food is available for pre-purchase. Gates open at 4 p.m. and music begins at 6 p.m.

(Photo at top of article: Naggiar owner Mike Naggiar with the new shuttle)

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