Alan Leard Q&A: The Wheels on the Bus Carry Food-Wine- & Brew- Lovers on Sunday Tour

Today we talk with Alan Leard  of Vintner’s Cellars about the his next wine-and-beer-tasting field trip via bus tour, which happens to be Sunday.

Q: Alan, I’ve heard about your guided wine tours for some time, and have always wanted to go. Finally, I will be able to attend this next one on April 29.

I love the idea of having a bus do the driving, and then there’s no risk of us wine-tasters drinking and driving.  I’m pretty excited. Can you describe what we can expect?

The wine tours always start at our winery in downtown Redding.  We provide some breakfast foods and mimosa’s to get the day started and then the bus arrives and we all load up.

We usually pass out some information on the bus about the places we’ll be visiting that day and then do some fun trivia about wine making, and for this tour, beer-making as well.  When we arrive at Sierra Nevada Brewery they have a team of staff to greet our group as we get off the bus and start the tour.

We take about an hour and a half to traverse through the state of the art brewery and then end with a beer sampler to taste some of their best products.   We will then be seated in the tap room to enjoy a gourmet lunch and maybe a pint of your favorite brew.

After we have our fill and are ready to move on, we take a 20 min ride to La Rocca vineyards where we will be greeted with their champagne.  We will then enjoy a full wine-tasting of their wines while learning what it means to be a fully organic winery.

Assuming the weather cooperates, the group will take a vineyard walk with the owner as he explains the current state of the vineyard and what happens next as they enter the summer months.  Everyone in the group will be offered a discount if they want to purchase any La Rocca wines and cases can be loaded directly onto the bus.  When we are all finished at La Rocca, we find our seats on the charter bus, settle in and usually have a quiet ride home.

Q: That sounds like so much fun. This isn’t the first one you’ve done. Tell us about the other tours we’ve missed, not to torture us or anything.

We have been doing our tours for two years now and in that time we have visited as far north as Jackson Valley in Oregon and as far south as Napa Valley, but by far our favorite tours are all within a two hour drive.

We’ve gone west to visit One Maple winery and had Alpine Cellars come down to join us.  We also love to take tours out to Manton to visit Indian Peak, Algers and Ring Tail.

There are several wineries to the east that we have yet to visit on a tour, and we hope to get to soon.   The tour that started the whole thing was to New Clairvaux in Vina.  That vineyard, which is managed by Monks, has so much history and such a great story it is only a matter of time before it is featured in a movie.   When Jana and I first visited New Clairvaux and found out what was going on so close to our home town, we knew we had to start bringing people on tours.  Only an hour and a half away and yet at one point that property was one of the largest wineries in the world and it helped fund the start up of Stanford University!

Q: Actually, I’ve been to New Clairvaux, and loved everything about it, including the wine.

It really is one of the best-kept secrets in the Northstate.

Before I ask you to fill us in on the details, I don’t want to get people’s hopes up. Dare I ask? Do you still have room for a few more people?

Yes, we still have seats on the bus, so give us a call, visit the website, or stop by Vintner’s Cellar to reserve your seat.  You can call (530) 222-WINE or visit  We are open until 9pm Tue-Thu and 10pm Fri-Sat with live music playing from 6:30 – 9:30.

Q: Anything else you want us to know about it?

Jana and I go on each tour and we make sure everyone has a great time.  Getting on a tour bus and visiting these great establishments for a day of fun, you feel like you’re on a vacation.  It’s so cool to get back at the end of the day to be dropped off in downtown Redding.  This tour has the best of both worlds, beer and wine, so there’s something for everyone.  Grab a friend and join us!

Thanks so much, Alan. See you Sunday for the wine tour. I think it’s going to be good.

Tour Date: April 29, 2012
Tour times: 8am – 5pm
Regular Price: $69.99
Wine Club Price: $59.50
Departing from: Vintner’s Cellar
1700 California St.
Redding, Ca 96001

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.