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Trailblazing: Bored with traditional wine tasting? Try out these more active vineyard experiences 

Sipping adventures

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Central Coast wine country is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. And yet, for most wine tasters, these areas are experienced indirectly through car windows, driving from one winery to the next.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are companies in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties that specialize in providing more active, engaging—even thrilling—trips to the vines.

Try some yoga

Reinvigorate your body and mind with a morning yoga class out on a vineyard. A growing number of area wineries are teaming up with local yoga instructors to host classes, but Vineyard Yoga Santa Ynez Valley ($45 per class, vineyardyogasyv.com) is one sure bet.

Longtime instructor Cori Lassahn has been teaching pop-up yoga classes at wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley for the past eight years. Each time, she promises “a breathtaking location that allows for maximum rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.”

Her classes are geared toward beginner/intermediate students and vary in their setting, from grassy lawns, to terraces, to courtyards, to the barrel room, according to her website.

Hop in a jeep

Take in the expansive and wild Paso Robles wine region from the leather-bound backseat of an open-air jeep. Central Coast Jeep Tour Adventures ($159 to $179 per person, ccjta.com) is a local company with the reputation and know-how to ensure your group has a fun and safe “off-road” vineyard experience.

Jeep tours come in multiple packages depending on your preference. As examples: The “off-the-grid” package visits small production wineries only and the “backroads” packages take “the roads less traveled.” Tours last about five hours, include stops at about three wineries (with discounts on tasting fees), and provide door-to-door pickup and lunch.

Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours ($150 to $300 per person, ccjeeps.com) is a similar option for the northern Santa Barbara County area.

Take a motorcycle

Sidecar Tours and Third Wheel Tours are great options for couples—or groups of couples—looking to share a motorcycle sidecar as they zip through wine country. “Nothing beats the freedom of the open road and the exhilarating feeling of the wind at your back,” Third Wheel Tours opines on its website.

Sidecar Tours ($109 to $199 per person, sidecartoursinc.com) promises 2.5-hour adventures in Paso, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez, or Santa Barbara, with stops at three wineries. Or, skip the wine and opt for the “scenic tour.”

Third Wheel Tours ($85 to $385 per person, thirdwheeltours.com) is based in SLO County and has tours of Paso’s east side, with stops at Cass Winery, Rava Wines, and Still Waters Vineyards.

Pedal through the vines

Pair your tasting with some exercise and book a tour with the highly regarded I Bike Santa Barbara Wine Tours ($169 per rider, ibikesb.com). This is a 16-mile guided bike ride that will have you pedaling right alongside the vines in northern Santa Barbara County.

The loop, which begins at Brander Vineyard in Santa Ynez, is an all-day excursion that’s “challenging but not exhausting,” according to the company. The package includes free shuttle transportation from downtown Santa Barbara, a Poseidon road bike and helmet (with an e-bike upgrade option), olive oil and wine tastings at three locations, and a gourmet picnic lunch.

Plus, you’ll get to learn all about the region from a knowledgeable local tour guide.

Ride a horse

Ditch the wheels, hop on a horse, and giddy-up for this extra special type of wine country experience.

Options for horseback tours are plentiful, but Central Coast Trailrides ($115 to $185 per person, cctrailrides.com), Vino Vaqueros ($175 per person, vinovaqueros.com), and Captain Jack’s Tours ($375 per person, captainjackstours.com) are good places to start.

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These guided rides will take you down trails on private ranches in northern SLO and Santa Barbara counties—including Santa Margarita Ranch and Round Up Valley Ranch—while making stops at nearby vineyards and wineries.

Horseback tours tend to last an hour to two hours, but that does not include your time spent at wineries for tastings and lunch. Riders of all experience levels, including kids, can participate.

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