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Winemaker Oded Shakked’s Tips for Having an Unforgettable Wine-Tasting Experience

Have you ever been to a wine-tasting experience and felt a little out of place? 

If you ask Oded Shakked, Owner and Winemaker at Longboard Vineyards in Healdsburg, this is an all-too-common experience: some wineries diminish the wine-tasting experience by expecting every visitor to be a connoisseur before they walk in the door. 

But as Oded is quick to tell you, wine is for everyone to enjoy, no matter your experience or knowledge. And after 30 years in the industry, he has one goal: to see people come and relax at his vineyard and enjoy some wine. 

So, how can you get the most enjoyable experience from your next wine tasting? 

We spoke with Oded to hear his advice.

Here’s what he told us.  

SOMO Village: You’ve been in the wine industry for over 30 years now. What do you see happening now? 

Oded Shakked: The wine industry here in Sonoma County is so diverse with many options for people to choose from. 

Because of this, there are some wineries that act all “hoity-toity.” They might make you feel bad for not knowing a lot about wine or if you don’t know how to pronounce “pinot noir.” 

But the way I see it is that there are only two descriptors that are important in wine: yummy and yucky. 

I am not the taste police and I’m not offended if people don’t like my wine. Everyone has different tastes! Some people love black licorice, but I can’t stand it. I love cilantro, but others think it tastes like soap. 

It’s the same with wine. There’s no right or wrong. 

So, when you’re deciding where to go for a wine tasting, you want to find somewhere that treats you well, no matter your knowledge of experience.

SOMO Village: How can people find the right winery or vineyard to visit? 

Social media is not a bad place to start, and so is a quick search on Google.

But you don’t want to just look at the ratings the winery received. You should also read the reviews to see what people actually say. You’ll get so much information there about how the wineries treat their guests. 

Are guests treated kindly? Were they made to feel bad if they didn’t know anything about wine? Or were they welcomed in and treated like a human being? 

The next best thing is word of mouth—friends telling friends. This is especially easy to do in Sonoma County. The next time you’re at a bar or taco joint, ask other people where they recommend visiting. 

Also, try to avoid tourist traps—the places that are all smoke and mirrors, but don’t have good wine. 

The more you talk to people and do your research, the easier it is to identify the right place. 

SOMO Village: How should people approach a wine tasting or vineyard experience to get the most enjoyment from it? 

I’ll say it again—we’re not the taste police. You know what you like best. 

So, what I want to see when people come to our winery is their shoulders relaxing, their faces relaxing. 

Just breathe. 

This is wine we’re talking about. Nobody’s dying on the operating table. 

Think of it like fish tacos—I’m a surfer and I love fish tacos. 

So, you might start out and try something at Taco Bell and really enjoy it. But then one day, you go to a small local place on a beach in Mexico and realize, “Oh, these are fish tacos.”

And your journey in wine is the same way.

I’m a big believer in experiencing the journey, not just the destination. So, approach it like this: take it easy, try different things, and see what you enjoy. When you do that, you’ll discover what you’re into and be inspired to keep experimenting and learning more. 

I also recommend people approach wine tasting with a playful attitude, too. When you’re smelling or tasting the wine for specific notes, just take a guess and try it out. You don’t have to be right all the time, just have fun with it. 

SOMO Village: Tell us a bit more about Longboard Vineyards and what people can expect when they come to visit. 

Our whole goal at Longboard is to help people relax and feel comfortable trying wine. We make the experience very approachable and fun. You can always take it easy and sit by the bar to order some food if you want. Both myself and our staff will always be around to chat with you and just help make the most of the experience. 

Our tasting fees are minimal because we want wine to be accessible. We also really want to reach locals in our community, so we offer half-price wine by the glass for anyone living in our area. We’re very serious about wine at Longboard but we want to demystify it for people and make it approachable. We don’t care how much or little you know, we just want to share our wine with you.  

You can learn more about Longboard Vineyards online. And, if you’re interested in sipping delicious wines, learning about what you’re tasting, and feeling relaxed while you do so, stop by the vineyard and visit Oded and his team.

And if you are looking for a group of like-minded people here in Sonoma County, download our project brief to find out why SOMO Village might be the perfect community for you.


About Oded Shakked 

Oded Shakked founded Longboard Vineyards in 1998 after moving to Sonoma County and falling in love with the place. Originally from Israel, Oded has lived, worked, and surfed on four continents. But after arriving in northern California, Oded “felt roots growing from the bottom of my feet” and made it his home over the last few decades. 

Oded is a passionate winemaker and Longboard is a place for wine, conversation, and sharing experiences with other people.

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