VOCATION VACATIONS, THE BRAINCHILD OF BRIAN KURTH, 37, was conceived during seven years' worth of bumper-to-bumper musings while commuting to and from Chicago. His conclusion? Think outside the cubicle. Kurth's Portland, Oregon-based company, started last May, organizes mini-sabbaticals for people needing both a relaxing few days off and a chance to try on a new profession for size. He matches people with "occupational mentors," experts in their fields, and lets the magic of innkeeping or urban horticulture do its trick. "A vocation vacation is a blend of reality TV meets Fantasy Island," says Kurth.
Illustration by Zohar Lazar
For example, visit Amity Vineyards, set in the rolling hills of Oregon's pinot noir country, where you'll shadow the 70-acre property's legendary vintner, Myron Redford. Learn everything from harvesting to bottling, then sample a glass of your hard work. Or train Peruvian horses with Mary Folberg and Rich Ovenburg at the Four Mountains Ranch in the hills west of Portland, and at workday's end stay in a country bed-and-breakfast like Pheasant Valley Orchards, an organic farm in Hood River. The company's four other options involve brewmasters, gardeners, raceway managers, and bed-and-breakfast owners, all throughout Oregon. Hook up with one of these pros and you just might get the occupational makeover you need to jump-start a second career.
DETAILS: VocationVacations trips last one to three days and include mentoring and accommodations (prices start at $300; 866-888-6329, www.vocationvacations.com).