If you have ever used Google Maps to plot out a tasting trip through Napa or Sonoma, Street View's 360-degree panoramas may have helped you identify a winery entrance on the Silverado Trail, determine if the hotel you were about to book really had stunning scenic views or pinpoint the exact location of a restaurant in Healdsburg. But Street View tantalizingly stopped at the winery gate.
Today Google is unveiling a collection of 360-degree tours at 78 wineries and about 10 breweries around California, allowing potential visitors to see vineyards, tasting rooms and barrel cellars. Among the featured wineries are places as varied as historic Schramsberg and the replica Tuscan castle at Castello di Amorosa, along with Artesa, Cade, Domaine Carneros, Cuvaison, Dry Creek Vineyard, Far Niente, Ferrari-Carano, Frog's Leap, Gundlach Bundschu, The Hess Collection, Lynmar, Matanzas Creek, Nickel & Nickel, Odette, Peju Province, PlumpJack, Quintessa and V. Sattui.
A search within Google Maps for one of these locations will, as it does now, call up the window that shows the address, directions tool, Street View thumbnail and sometimes photos—with the new addition of a "See Inside" thumbnail to access the tour. Or users can view a town or region and turn on the imagery tools (near the zoom-in and zoom-out icons) to see what's available; the "Show Imagery" tool displays thumbnails, while the "Browse Street View Images" tool highlights the map in blue to show where you can click to access a 360-degree tour.
Street View launched in 2007 with panoramic streetscapes in five major U.S. cities, taken from vehicles driving up and down the roads equipped with special cameras that take overlapping shots that are then stitched together to create the panoramic. It has since expanded both locally and globally, adding a trove of images and going far off the streets, allowing visitors to virtually walk down their residential neighborhood streets or tour Venice, climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, explore Loch Ness and dive a shipwreck in the Bahamas.
"In thinking about places people are interested in seeing, we're very much a California company and we have these wineries and breweries in our backyard," explained Deanna Yick, the program manager for Google Street View. She noted that Google's latest technology—including a 15-lens backpack camera and a tripod version for mapping indoor locations—allows them to take the panoramic shots in places they previously could not easily go. "So we did some outreach to well-known, popular wineries in Napa and Sonoma and were met with a lot of receptivity. A lot of folks thinking about where to spend the weekend would love to see the places in advance."
Other individual wineries have previously added the 360-degree tours to their Google Map listings, such as Château Lafon Rochet in Bordeaux, but this is the first organized special collection of a group of wineries in the United States. Yick says that Google Maps will continue to work with other wineries and breweries in the United States and abroad to add their tours to Street View. "Our goal is to provide the most complete and accurate cover and replicate the real world online."