Will work for wine? If that sounds like you, then maybe volunteering on a vineyard should be your next great working vacation. Volunteers often help out hand-harvesting grapes, assisting with the bottling process and, of course, drinking those fine vintages. From the charmed fields of Bordeaux to Napa vineyards closer to home, opportunities are plentiful, though the five wineries listed here offer especially terrific programs.
Good Luck Cellars: Kilmarnock, VA
There’s no lack of work for volunteers at Good Luck Cellars, that’s for sure. A member of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, this vineyard asks for year-round support from their “Good Luck charms” (as they calls their volunteers.) The community-based vineyard needs help harvesting 25 acres of grapes in late summer and fall, pruning during the winter months, and help with the bottling process throughout the year. Volunteers can sign up for as many days as they’d like, and while lodging is not provided, there are plenty of hotels in the area. In exchange for service, volunteers receive 2-3 bottles of estate-grown wine and get to choose which bottles to take home. Cheers to that!
Organic Vineyard: Bordeaux, France
Few things are more romantic than tending to the vines in the famous wine region of Bordeaux, so why not turn this one into a couple’s trip? But don’t forget, there is work involved! This volunteer opportunity can be booked through Workaway, an online community that promotes sustainable travel through volunteering. During your time in the countryside, you’ll spend 4-5 hours daily working in the vines. Housing is provided, but note that it can get busy during harvest, so you may have to go rustic, and bring a tent for camping. WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is another organization that coordinates volunteers on farms in exchange for room and board. Sign up on their website to become a volunteer.
Wild Arc Farm: Pine Bush, NY
Grab a group of friends and get ready to work. Wild Arc Farm is a newer vineyard that gets its grape supply from Amorici Valley in Valley Falls, New York—where the volunteering takes place. Volunteers can work 1-3 days, and lodging, food and transportation (when possible) are provided. Expect to get your hands dirty hand-harvesting grapes and field sorting (picking out rotten grapes). You’ll break for a delicious lunch with wines from Wild Arc Farm and from their friends around the world. Post-boozy lunch, the wine stomping begins! Simply fill out the contact form on their website to inquire about details and dates.
Fainting Goat Vineyards; Jasper, GA
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Fainting Goat Vineyards is an idyllic place to experience harvest as a volunteer. Plan to be in the vines for about 4-6 hours harvesting grapes with a start-time of 6:30am, sunrise included. Following the hard work, enjoy a “vendange” (grape harvest) lunch. Harvest can take place any time between the end of September through the second week of October, which means the vineyard will be in touch when the dates are chosen. Just make sure to fill out the volunteer form on their website for updates. Stay at a hotel or B&B in the area.
Organic Vineyard: Itria Valley, Italy
Grape picking and wine making in Italy doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a vacation. Head to dreamy Itria Valley in southern Italy to volunteer on a fifth-generation organic vineyard though Workaway. You’ll stay in a private villa close to the vineyard, equipped with a kitchen, plus gardens and terraces. The minimum stay is one week, and volunteers are needed throughout the year. The grape harvest begins in October and involves all aspects of wine making, from picking to pressing and fermenting. Post-harvest the vines will have to be cut back and then thinned in the spring, so this is a great option for someone looking for flexibility with booking dates.
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