Take a Unique Ace It! Bike Tour Through Wine Country
Not all wine tastings and tours throughout the Sonoma Wine Country are alike. Some include property tours, some tasting different varietals, and some include bikes. If you've ever wanted to take a unique tasting tour through Sonoma's Wine Country, Ace It! Bike Tours is your answer.
It takes audacity and optimism to start a business in the midst of a recession, but that's exactly what Frieda Lewis did. Back in 2010, while working as a Registered Nurse at Santa Rosa's Memorial Hospital, a career move out of the nursing profession resulted in the founding of Ace It! Bike Tours, now located in Windsor.
“With the economy down," she recalls, "people weren’t expanding their businesses or starting new ones. So bikes, bike trailers, and other equipment was cheaper than it had been — and definitely a lot cheaper than it is now.”
Lewis continued working part-time as a nurse, spending her days off marketing the business and running bike tours. At first she ran tours in San Francisco, driving down from Sonoma County with a trailer and bikes. But city competition was tough, with plenty of brick-and-mortar storefronts attracting foot traffic. Also, hefty costs for gas, bridge tolls, parking, and other fees eroded her bottom line.
So Lewis moved the business to her home turf, where it took off. "When I started in Santa Rosa," she said, "I had a dozen bikes. Now I have 50."
Less than a year ago, Lewis relocated to the town of Windsor, where she serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Ace It currently offers three tours:
The Sonoma Wine Country Tour visits two to three wineries while biking through the vineyards and hills of the Russian River Valley. The wineries on this tour may include Benovia, Deloach, Hook & Ladder, Pellegrini, Russian Hill, or Sunce. Tour distance: eight miles each way.
The Sonoma Bike 'n Brew Tour takes cyclists to three renowned Sonoma County breweries: the Hopmonk Tavern (housed in an historic building), Russian River Brewing Co., and Third Street Aleworks. Tour distance: seven miles each way.
The Sustainable Cycling Wine Tour leaves from downtown Windsor and goes out onto quiet country roads. Cyclists stop in Healdsburg at J Winery and Rodney Strong, both Certified California Sustainable for wine-growing; self-guided tours explain their sustainability practices. If time allows, a third winery, Limerick, is also visited on this tour. Tour distance: four miles each way.
All tours are $114/person (gratuities and food not included), and last approximately 4 to 4.5 hours. Included are your guide, a high quality hybrid bike, helmet, handlebar bag, gear rack, and an insulated wine bike carrier for cyclist purchases (it locks). Wine tasting fees are waived at some wineries.
Ace It! also has a Stay & Play Package built around the Ace It Cottage, a charming two-bedroom 1950s standalone with a hardwood floor, full kitchen, deck with BBQ, gazebo, and other amenities. It's located on a quiet street near Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa. Booking the cottage gets $10 per person off the cost of any tour.
"I like to give people surprises on the trail," Lewis said. "We have nice partnerships with our establishments. At the breweries the managers might come out and give a history of the brewery or answer questions. We get special treatment at the wineries. It's always a great and fun time."
Lewis’s personal favorite route runs from Santa Rosa to Healdsburg along back roads on the west side of Highway 101. "It's beautiful," she says, “with vineyards, wineries, lots of open space. I love going past the Sonoma County Airport and seeing the planes take off and land. That ride is about 2 hours each way.
"The best way to see this county’s beauty is by bike. You get to smell the air and the flowers, see the creeks flowing with water, eye the vineyards up close. This is a very special part of the world, and I want to share it with people.”