As full-time rv’ers, our reality is that we spend an enormous chunk of time searching for places to stay. In some cases, we follow familiar paths and are pretty sure we know where we’ll end up, but we thrive on exploring and finding new adventures and this is where Harvest Hosts comes into play.
We use a variety of search options for campgrounds ranging from BLM land to state parks to listings on such sites as Campendium. We even utilize Passport America, holding a free membership as campground managers, for their 50% option in regions where campgrounds tend to be spendy.
One of our favorite options is proving to be Harvest Hosts. We’ve been aware of this program for years now and even signed up once long ago thinking we would take advantage of some orchards along the Colombia Gorge but then never took advantage. We wish we had done so sooner!
Since we left camp in mid-October we have taken advantage of three different harvest host settings, all unique, and all wonderful.
Harvest Hosts is an organization that includes vineyards, family farms, orchards, museums, and most recently, golf courses. For a minor fee of $44/year members are able to stay for FREE at host locations.
There are a variety of regulations, of course, but all perfectly understandable. You are required to have a fully self-contained camper, you need to call ahead, and you’re expected to purchase something from your host whether that be a bottle of wine, some fresh fruit from an orchard, or museum admission.
Our first experience this fall was at Copper Belt Wines outside of Baker City, Oregon. This arid landscape has been home to the Cook family since 1894 and Travis has continued the family traditions of making his home off the land. This small winery produces a variety of white and reds and operates a tasting room in town as well as at the winery itself.
We proved to be the only residents for the evening and after an enjoyable tasting highlighted by some good conversation with the winemakers entertaining young son we bought a bottle and settled in for a wonderfully quiet evening surrounded by rolling hills and cattle.
The joy of Harvest Host experiences for us is not that you’re somehow getting free accommodation. We could have stayed at a typical campground in town, of course, for the same price as our bottle of wine. What makes HH magical is the human interaction. It is in the learning how and why someone ended up in that place and time, learning their history, meeting their family, and gaining a little bit of insight into their life.
By the time we’d raced through California we were more than ready for a more personal experience once again and headed to Aqua Dulce Vineyard outside of Santa Clarita. As opposed to complete peace and serenity of Copper Belt, Aqua Dulce was absolutely full of visitors and bustling with activity. A chili cook-off earlier that day had brought visitors in droves so we did a quick set up and joined in the fun.
Aqua Dulce has a lovely store filled with all sorts of tasty snacks and wine country merchandise and some truly wonderful wines. We wandered the vineyards checking out their array of llamas, mini donkeys, and rabbits and enjoyed a wine tasting, purchasing a bottle of their spectacular reserve Syrah that became part of our Christmas dinner here in Baja. A mostly quiet night next to the vineyard followed as yet another successful HH experience ended.
For full transparency, we have actually stayed at our third Harvest Host location several times. Although they are members, they encourage any campers that wish to stay with them when passing through the Valle de Guadalupe wine country in Baja, California.
LA Cetto is the largest wine producer in Mexico and their setting is extraordinary. You camp in the parking lot near the production rooms but are surrounded by lush vineyards. This vineyard opened in 1926 and have very reasonable tasting fees, an assortment of cheese and meat options for an impromptu picnic, and have a lovely patio area offering panoramic views of the valley.
We are already researching HH sites for our trip north in the spring, intent this time around to take full advantage of these remarkable camping options. Do yourself a favor and join yourself. It can be a rare thing in our hectic lives to be able to take a step into someone else’s life and experience a little bit of a different way of living.
If you’re interested in joining take advantage of this 10% off discount by clicking the link below.