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Taking to Sonoma’s winery trails on horseback

Fun Fact

Michelle Rogers is the sister of Rebuild North Bay Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Gray Thompson

Michelle Rogers grew up riding horses in Sonoma, and three years ago she helped establish a trail riding business in Napa. Earlier this year, she decided it was time to go out on her own.

Beginning this March, Rogers will offer trail riding at a handful of Sonoma Valley wineries.

Rogers, 51, has been involved with horses for more than 35 years and has lived in the Valley all her life. She attended Dunbar Elementary and Altimira Middle School and grew up riding horses in Schellville. Her professional career with horses includes traveling the country managing various professional horse barns and competing in the show ring, as well as training and breeding horses.

After graduating from Sonoma Valley High School in 1985, Rogers got involved in animal welfare and worked for 13 years at a Marin-based shelter as an animal cruelty investigator.

Rogers will be boarding her 10 trail riding horses at LizRobin Farms in Sonoma. The geldings are hand-selected quarter horses. She will have two guides plus herself, and she is currently hiring.

Riders will be able to book their 30- or 50-minute rides through Rogers or through the winery partners. Rogers will trailer her horses out and meet the riders at the local venues. The experience will differ at each winery, but will always be paired with a wine tasting and a picnic or charcuterie package.

'But you absolutely can't be under the influence riding a horse,' said Rogers. 'The wine tasting experience will come afterward.'

The Western saddle rides are suitable for every level of rider, said Rogers, including the complete beginner. And her new business is fully insured.

Rogers expects that a 30- to 50-minute ride plus the wine and food package will cost $130 to $175 per person. Up to eight riders can ride together or it will be possible to arrange private rides (great for proposals) for those who don't want to ride with others.

Beginning in March, Rogers expects that Sonoma Valley Trail Rides will offer three rides a day, seven days a week. As far as she knows, there are no other wineries or trail companies currently offering winery trail rides in the Valley. Rogers will spend the holidays among the vines of her winery partners getting her horses accustomed to the winery trails.

'It is great to experience the vineyards from a different viewpoint,' she said.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

Fun Fact

Michelle Rogers is the sister of Rebuild North Bay Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Gray Thompson

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