Greater East Bay
Ruby Hill Winery 400 Vineyard Ave., (925) 931-WINE (9463). Tasting daily 11-5; tour by reservation.
Established in 1887, this winery is perfect for a picnic and has a small deli case stocked with some provisions. Do take their 2-hour Mello Cielo bus tour, which seats tasters in comfy swiveling wine-barrel seats inside a refurbished old school bus and transports them, lurching and bouncing through the vineyards, while sipping sparkling wine. Tour guide Norm, who doubles as the winery’s enologist, warns that “it won’t be the smoothesst ride you’ve ever had,” but it might be the most fun. You’ll see peacocks, tour the production facility, do a barrel tasting, and do a tasting with food pairing inside a cozy water tower. The owner is a big Grateful Dead fan, which explains the Grateful Red blend with tie-dye label.
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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers