Whether you are a novice or an avid wine drinker visiting wineries can be fun, relaxing and of course, a great way to taste wine – try before you buy! But, a perfect wine tasting adventure takes planning and preparation. If you have never been to a winery we have some great tips for Tasting Room Etiquette that are helpful to know before venturing out. If you are new to wine, here are 12 Things to know to sound like an expert.
To plan a great day, do some research to learn more about your options, and map out where to go. Most wine regions have anywhere from a dozen wineries to literally hundreds and it can be overwhelming. While some people may like to wander around a wine region and try wineries that they stumble upon, that doesn’t always work. We like to know about the winery before heading out. Doing a little homework and putting together a curated agenda always ensures a perfect wine-venture.
For a great day of tasting, we recommend planning to visit four wineries. When making our list of where to go, we will usually add one or two back-up stops in case one winery ends up being too busy or we have extra time at the end of the day. We also look for at least one winery to be our designated lunch stop where they either have food options or we can bring a picnic.
With that in mind, it’s time to start the research. We begin by pulling up a map of the region along with any websites for that region. Most wine regions have websites with winery maps, details about each one and general area information. From there we usually make a list of 12-15 wineries that look intriguing. We take that list and head over to social media to see what people have to say about each one. We check out their social media page and search the winery tags to see what people have posted about their experience. This usually helps us narrow the list down a bit. We take the shortened list and starting checking out each wineries website. This is a great place to see what varietals are offered, what the price points of the wines are, the number of wines in the tasting, tasting fees, and the overall feel of the winery (casual or formal, rustic or elegant, etc.). Once we have gathered all of this information it makes it pretty easy to narrow the list to your final 5-8 options.
Once we have a good sense of our top choices we plan our schedule for the day. We look at the map to see where they are located in relation to the others and plan out the order accordingly. If a winery opens at 10:00 a.m. we make that our first stop and go from there. We allocate one hour per visit unless we are doing a tour or private tasting, then allow more time. Generally, winery stop #2 is our lunch stop and the last winery of the day is closest to our hotel. If a winery looks particularly intriguing we may check to see if they offer tours, private-guided tastings, food pairings, or other experiences to make the most of the visit.
Two other things we like to do in planning our trip. First, we send a private message to the wineries we plan to visit just to let them know we are coming. This was especially helpful in one instance when they replied to let us know they would be closed for a private event. This wasn’t posted on their website and we wouldn’t have known until we arrived. The last thing we do is check out a little more information about the owners, winemaker and other key personnel just to familiarize ourselves a little more with them. While you may not want to gather so much detail about each place you plan to visit, but we think doing a little extra homework helps ensure a more personalized visit.
We hope this information inspires you and helps you next time you go on a wine-venture!