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Rethinking the Wine Tasting Experience: A Look at Raven’s Reach Winery

When you think about a wine tasting experience, what comes to mind? Wine, most certainly, but what else? What truly rememberable experiences have you had and why are they rememberable? These questions were the starting point for Aaron and Shane, owners of Raven’s Reach Winery, before they opened their doors in January 2023.

“Our goal in starting our winery was to create something new and interesting in every aspect” Shane says. The ‘rethinking’ process obviously had to start with the wines that they make. “We wanted to focus on non-main stream grape varietals that do really well here in Amador and El Dorado counties. We also wanted to employ different wine making techniques from around the world” he continued. “We want to create wines unlike any that most folks have ever tasted before”.

Creating unique and interesting wines is only the first step in crafting a rememberable wine tasting experience. The tasting room also needed to be something unique and appealing. The duo were searching for a location to open their tasting room for nearly a year when they stumbled on their current location at 83 Main Street in Sutter Creek. “We went into town for breakfast one Sunday morning and saw the ‘for rent’ sign on the house. We looked at each other in disbelief thinking ‘this is too good to be true’” Shane recalls. They discussed the prospect over breakfast and called immediately after to arrange a viewing. “I love old buildings and the place had so much character that I knew instantly that it was a perfect fit for us”.

Shane spent two months remodeling the interior, finding inspiration from the 1920s era ‘sun room’ windows. “They are original windows, many with the original leaded glass.” His thoughts were to transform the house into something resembling a 1930s ‘gentlemen’s club’ complete with ‘leather’ appointments and bookcases. “We wanted the tasting room to be a comfortable setting where people want to come and relax.”

To complete the ‘feel’ of the tasting room, Aaron and Shane opted to have separate tables and place settings throughout the building rather than incorporating the traditional tasting room bar. “The pandemic introduced us to table service in tasting rooms” Shane says. “We enjoyed having some personal space when we were wine tasting during that time and wanted to incorporate that into our experience”.

For Raven’s Reach Winery, details matter. From the oversized etched wine glasses, the 30s style water glasses and even the custom made information ‘boards’, the Raven’s Reach Winery tasting room has been carefully thought out. The result is a refined, but comfortable setting full of small details, like customized phone chargers at the table.

As critical as the wine and setting are to creating a unique experience, the most important aspect of any tasting room experience is the interaction that guests have with the tasting room personnel. Here too, Aaron and Shane wanted to ‘rethink’ that interaction dynamic. “We knew that we wanted to have meaningful exchanges with our guests” Shane says. “We’re very passionate about the wines that we have created and want to have open dialogs with our guests about each one.” Personalized attention doesn’t end there though. “We also love tailoring the experience for each guest based on their wine knowledge and level of interest” Shane adds.

Aaron and Shane created Raven’s Reach Winery to be a little different. Rethinking the whole wine tasting experience has been a critical aspect of what makes them different and, hopefully, rememberable. They invite you to visit them and experience something different on your next trip into Sutter Creek.

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