Wine Country 101

Planning a trip to wine country? Let us help you! There are a lot of variables that come in to play when planning your perfect getaway. We’re here to give you a few basic tips and recommendations to make your experience easier and more enjoyable!

  1. Have a game plan. What specific wineries do you want to visit? Some wineries require you to make an appointment, others are fine with walk-ins. Have your wineries in mind and map them out. Plan your tastings in a way that makes sense logistically if you’re planning on driving. Also, being punctual is important. Some wineries can be real sticklers about being on time. They usually have tastings one right after the other and it’s important to be respectful of their schedule. If you’re running late, give them a call and let them know. A heads up is always appreciated.
  2. If you are planning to visit multiple wineries and not planning on spitting, you should consider hiring a driver or transportation service. There are tons of great options that would cost you a lot less than a DUI.
  3. Avoid brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, chewing gum or spraying perfume right before wine tasting. These things will greatly interfere with the taste and smell of the wines.
  4. One thing is going to save you while enjoying a full day of wine tasting- FOOD. Make sure you eat breakfast, and think about what you’re going to have for lunch ahead of time. Whether you’re picking something up on the fly to have between tastings or wanting to enjoy a sit-down lunch, have some options in mind. Some wineries offer small bites to enjoy with the wines, others offer a 5-course spread. Also, some places allow you to bring outside food on to their property. Always call ahead and ask, you want to be respectful of whatever winery you’re visiting.
  5. Dress the part. No, that doesn’t mean you have to wear a three-piece suit or your mother’s pearls, but casual sophistication goes a long way. Think ‘wine country chic’.
  6. Be familiar with the tasting costs at each winery you decided to visit. Some wineries will waive the fee with purchase of a certain amount of wine, some can be very expensive. If you belong to a winery’s wine club, tastings should absolutely be complimentary. Over the years we have established some incredible relationships with wineries near and far. We are happy to help set up tastings or make introductions whenever we can.
  7. Don’t try to do too much. We recommend two, no more than three tasting per day. After a certain point, the wine has started to do its trick and your pallet isn’t as fresh. We find it best to focus on setting up more intimate, special experiences. Experiences that involve a tour of the property, the caves, something more than the typical scene of standing at a counter in a tasting room with 15 other people. Plan your first tasting for the later morning around 10:30/11AM. When you’re done, take a break to get some lunch. Set up an afternoon tasting for 2/3PM, and plan on finishing your day by 5PM as most wineries are closing at that time anyway. Don’t expect to walk in to a winery 15 minutes before they close and have a memorable tasting experience. The more notice the winery has that you’re coming, the more opportunity they have to set up something really incredible for you and your group.
  8. Get out of your comfort zone. Try varietals you’ve never heard of and things you might not think you like! Wine country is the perfect place to expand your pallet with little to no risk. If you taste a wine that you don’t like, that’s ok. The beauty of wine is in its subjectivity. What Sue loves, Jay may hate. Tasting rooms are usually furnished with dump buckets, or spittoons. Don’t be embarrassed to dump the wine, no one will be offended. On the opposite end, if you taste something you love don’t be afraid to ask for another taste, especially if you’re considering purchasing it.
  9. Is tipping appropriate and customary? We think it is perfectly acceptable and we encourage taking care of tasting room employees that have gone above and beyond to share their knowledge and enhance your visit.
  10. Last but certainly not least, HAVE FUN. Don’t take yourself or the experience too seriously! Wine is meant to be talked about, shared with loved ones and enjoyed. Yes, it’s fun to dress up and play the part of a sophisticated wine drinker but at the end of the day, the people making the wine are some of the most humble, down to earth people you will ever meet. It’s important to remember how much time and hard work goes in to each bottle of wine and to keep that in perspective any time you enjoy a bottle.

Visiting wine country is one of the most incredible and educational experiences you can have. If you have never been, do yourself a favor and go. Like now. It doesn’t matter how many wines you taste or books you read on the subject, there is nothing like being at a winery, standing on their property and looking out at the vineyards that have produced the glass of wine that is in your hand. It’s an entirely different perspective that we highly recommended all wine lovers have.