Blind World Magazine

A Unique Wine Tour For The Blind.

October 13, 2005.
KGO, California.

ABC7 Salutes a Napa winery that has a unique way of showing the visually impaired how they make their wine.

ABC7's Leigh Glaser: "How are the grapes harvested?"

Dianne Phelps, Napa Valley: "Everything we bring into the winery is hand picked. It is hand picked."

Dianne Phelps and a group of her friends are enjoying a wine tour at Sequoia Grove Winery in Napa. This tour though is a little different. That's because Dianne and her friends are all legally blind. After a few requests, last year the winery began a sensory hands-on wine tour exclusively for the blind and their guide dogs.

Michael Trujillo, Sequoia Grove winemaker: "It was a great success. Not only did they learn about the wine business, we learned a lot about the dogs and what it is like being blind and how much we take for granted."

The three hour tour begins in the field picking and tasting the grapes right off the vine.

Even the guide dogs aren't shy about tasting this year's harvest. From the field the tour continues to the barrels. Since the tour is totally hands on. What the group can't see they can feel and smell. And that's what makes this experience so special.

Dan O'Conner, San Rafael: "There's an acceptance and a comfortability that allows us to touch the grapes, touch the leaves, touch the soil, touch the barrels, smell the wine in the barrels."

And with wine tasting there comes a lot of sniffing. Everyone is sniffing. The palette is also tested. This combination of jelly beans is supposed to mimic certain flavors found in wines. The trick is to figure out what the flavors are.

"Well chocolate is for one and coffee tastes like another one."

A trip down to the wine cave is one of the highlights. Today they are sampling a 2004 Cabernet. Although the vintage is still young, the reviews are positive. So is the tour.

"To set up such a wonderful and extensive tour like this where we can really experience what they are talking about I think this is just outstanding."

"They don't even take a slip backwards about life. All these folks we have met through this organization are all positive and appreciative and happy, so it is pretty neat."

And so ABC7 Salutes Michael Trujillo and all the staff at Sequoia Grove Winery in Napa for giving of their time and creating a unique wine tour for the blind

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