Cupcake Cars & Wine Fantasies

If you are familiar with Neiman Marcus’ Fantasy Gift Collection then you know that it’s about extravagant holiday gifts for anyone looking (or able to afford) something over-the-top. Well this year they’ve topped themselves. Forget about their Cupcake Cars with matching whip cream hats that you can wear to… I don’t know…make a run to the local Foster’s Freeze in..? The gift that I want, of course, is their Hall Artisan Wine and Art Experience. The only problem is – the price. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and respect Hall wines with their earth-friendly practices, but at a $20,000 price tag, Neiman Marcus better include some form of an altar and at least 50 personal guests.

For anyone interested in experiencing their own Fantasy Wine Experience, complete with premium wine tastings, art exhibits, wine caves, gourmet meals and more, rest assured that these luxurious experiences are just a quick trip away! Here’s how to do it yourself, on the cheap:

1) Set up an appointment-only tasting. Typically, these wineries are able to spend more time with their patrons, resulting in a much more personalized wine tasting experience. Appointment only wineries often do tours of the grounds as well, so don’t forget to ask about that.

2) Opt for the reserve tastings. Sure, this may cost double the price of the basic tastings offered, (sometimes they will let 2 people go in on a flight together), but your tasting experience is sure to be enhanced, not only because of the higher grade wines you’ll be tasting, but with more focus on the customer, you’ll have plenty of one on-one-time with winery staff.

3) Join a wine club. If you have the resources, signing up for your favorite winery’s club membership is well worth the cost.  Not only will you receive shipments of your favorite wines, it could be a great opportunity for you to attend members-only winery events. Everything from BBQ’s with live bands to horse-drawn carriage rides through the vineyards have been available to wine club members, depending on the winery.

4) Look at winery event calendars. Numerous wineries hold regular events tailored for the general public, especially during crush season. These include an assortment of activities such as barrel tastings, wine blending, wine pairings, art exhibits, cooking, and more. Be sure to check the prices, since they often vary.

5) Talk to the locals. Ask the winery employees for tips and suggestions of where to taste or eat next. I can’t tell you how many times I have discovered new amazing spots, just by chatting with the locals.  

My point is that this Fantasy experience is not fantasy at all. The biggest fantasy aspect of the whole things is actually having $20K in your back pocket to spend on private, VIP treatment. If you are able make it to the Napa Valley, or any other Wine Country, have an open mind, a little advanced planning, and a sense of adventure, anything is possible!
*Special thanks to Molly, who was fantasizing while looking at the Neiman Marcus catalog and told me about it!

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