Cheers to the Luxury RV Life
Crisp, bold or full-bodied, it’s no secret that luxury RVers appreciate quality wine. Throw in the well-loved adage that “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” and that may just be why happy hour tends to arrive early at many of North America’s finest RV resorts. Here at Marathon, we tend to keep plenty of our favorite bottles of wine on hand for all of life’s celebrations – no matter which event we’re hosting or what part of the country we’re visiting.
In fact, during the winter season, many staying at the more renowned luxury resorts in Indio, California, participated in our J. Scott Cellars virtual tasting series with Oregon winemaker Jonathan Scott Oberlander and Marathon Sales Representatives Jim Cogley and Mal Williams.
“A number of years ago, we began purchasing wine for our southern California events,” said Marathon Marketing Manager Pete Sutton. “We knew we wanted an Oregon-based winery to complement our Oregon factory location so we started by touring local wineries in hopes of finding a good fit. Tough job, right? My wife, Linda, had taken a tour of J. Scott Cellars during her time as a culinary student and spoke highly of the experience, so we stopped by. We were treated quite well, and not only got to taste their wines, but we also got to hear each wine’s story, how they were made, what part of the valley they were grown in and anything unique that Jonathan had done to craft the flavor.”
The J. Scott Cellars brand features an extensive menu of extraordinary tasting wines of the Pacific Northwest, with 18 current and past vintages receiving the coveted 90 points and above from the respected national publication, Wine Enthusiast.
“I had a fantastic time last winter doing our Zoom wine tastings with Marathon coach owners and future owners,” said J. Scott’s founder and winemaker. “Even though we couldn’t chat in person, the attendees were fantastic and we all had wine. Lots of great questions about wine and winemaking were asked, and I am sure we could have gone another hour or two given everyone’s exuberance. Next time we’ll do it in person: Either I will go to Indio or the attendees will come to Oregon.”
Much like Jonathan and the J. Scott team pride themselves on providing more than mere wine, Marathon delivers more than a mode for travel, providing a lifestyle and experience unlike any other. With wine coolers, outdoor entertainment bays, extendable dinettes and more, a Marathon luxury coach is perfect for celebrating life and worlds removed from traditional camping.
“Motorcoaching and wine,” said Pete. “Both can be described as the enjoyment of friends, exploration and relaxation. They are diverse, fun and full of surprises.”
From amenity-rich resorts to the natural wonder of nature in its most pristine form, you can have everything you want and need at your fingertips, including an impressive wine collection. Marathon makes it easier than ever with three standard floorplans – Monterey, Malibu and Jackson Hole – that include wine refrigerators in the appliance storage cabinet. Of course, there are many great spaces to integrate temperature-controlled wine cabinets, whether as a service upgrade or in the planning process of a custom coach: galley cabinetry, hallway wardrobe, custom occasional tables or underbelly. However, for clients with other ideas, rest assured that Marathon’s engineering team can create the perfect fit – simply let them know your preferred location and the size you desire.
Having wine on hand enhances life and the luxury RV experience, plus it’s a great way to make new friends and learn about wine.
“Probably 90% of the people we travel with in the Marathon group are into wine more than standard cocktails,” said Marathon coach owner Dennis Arnold. “If you’re into motorhomes – even at campgrounds – you’ll see people sitting around drinking wine in the evening. Talk to them and find out what they like. Most of the time they’ll say, ‘try it’ and share some.”
Dennis and his wife Bonnie began their RVing adventure approximately 50 years ago. “In 1970 we had three young kids,” said Dennis. “Having just had our third child, we were struggling along. My father-in-law entered a radio contest for some kind of motorhome giveaway. He stopped on his way home from work and told us he did it. He thought he had the right answer to this quiz that was being hyped on the radio every day. He told me, ‘You’re going to win a motorhome!’ I asked, ‘How am I going to win a motorhome?’ He said, ‘I put your name in and you’re the luckiest guy I ever met!’ About three days later the phone rang at 6:30 in the morning and he said, ‘You won! You won!’ I replied, ‘Yeah. Ha ha.’ We turned on the radio and sure enough, I won the darned motorhome.”
When they selected their current Marathon, their fourth motorhome, they made sure it had proper wine storage – although the cooler holds 12 bottles, they’ve been known to travel with up to 20. “When I bought the coach, we put a little wine cabinet in one of the bays and keep it pretty full,” said Dennis. “We know some people who had a Marathon who never used the refrigerator for food because it was always full of champagne and wine. There was nothing else in it!”
With 180,000 miles on their coach, Dennis and Bonnie have seen much of the U.S., including their share of wineries. Their travels have taken them from well-known wineries of the Napa Valley to more obscure vintners in Washington State.
“About three years ago, we took a trip and were in Coeur d’Alene,” said Dennis. “There were three, maybe four of us at one point. One guy was based out of Seattle, Washington, so he set up a little side trip of 10-12 days to visit different wineries in mid-state and Seattle. We tasted and toured wineries during the day and then stayed overnight at the last winery we visited that day. That was pretty fun!”
Although Dennis recommends investigating the popular subscription site Harvest Hosts when looking to camp on winery grounds, he also recommends some lesser-known solutions. “When you get to popular places such as Paso Robles, and even up in Washington, there aren’t a lot of campgrounds in those areas because the land’s too valuable. But what you can often find are county fairgrounds. All these counties have fairgrounds that are reasonably close to places of interest. Even if you can’t get full hookups, you can almost always get a camping spot.”
And what do you do after buying all that wine? According to Marathon Coach Club President Alice Nelson, you secure it. “Make sure the case of wine you stored in the back closet is secure and won’t come tumbling out onto the tile floor when you have to stop suddenly. Don’t ask how we know that!”
Dennis and Bonnie Arnold:
“Once we open one bottle of wine with friends, we usually end up opening two or three more.”
Favorite mid-range, affordable but drinkable, Cabernet Sauvignon:
If looking to spend a bit more: Caymus
Alice and Gary Nelson:
“There are so many wonderful wineries, so probably whichever winery/tasting room we’re visiting at the time is our favorite.”
Favorite wine varietals:
All-time favorite winery tour:
Hall/Saint Helena (Napa)
Rasa Vineyards and Dunham Cellars (Walla Walla, Washington)
“Early on, J. Scott’s Petite Sirah stood out to me. This is a BIG, bold wine; it is almost black in the glass. But what I love about it is it doesn’t hit you hard on the first sip like a young, big red can. Strong, yes, but consistent like an older wine. And it finishes smoothly, also consistent with an older wine. No tannin aftertaste. For me it is exactly what a big red should be.”
“My favorite white came later; Jonathan created something new after returning from a visit to France. He did a twist on a Chardonnay by keeping it in an older oak barrel. This created, for me, the perfect summer sipping wine. It’s dry, it’s still a Chardonnay, but labeled as Chardonnay Citron Vert.”