are a couple of ways to approach visiting wineries. You
can plan the whole thing out in advance, getting out some
maps, picking the destinations to visit, and making yourself
an itinerary. Whether it's one day, or six days, a planned
itinerary will keep you on pace and get you to the right
the other hand, if you prefer to visit places on the fly
or on a whim, then leave things loose and stop whenever
or wherever you like. Frankly, even when working with a
planned itinerary, you'll find the desire or opportunity
to make an impromptu stop here and there.
way, I'd suggest trying to visit no more than 3-4 wineries
over the course of a day - one or two visits in the morning,
and two in the afternoon. You can always add more visits
later on. But, try 3-4 initially, until you see how much
time your visits actually take, and whether one or more
of your party is getting easily bored or the "tasting"
has gotten out of hand (read: tipsy).
brings up another point - unless you have a designated driver,
you may want to consider spitting out the wine, rather than
swallowing it. Yes, I know, swallowing the wine is half
(or more) of the fun. But, be aware, it's going to take
its toll on you - especially if you're planning on staying
out the whole day. Spitting really isn't that difficult;
it just takes a little practice (here's a short
description), and will show the tasting room staff you're
not just out on a bender, but that you have a real interest
in wine. If you feel that spitting just isn't your thing,
at least pour out the rest of the glass, after you take
a small sip. This really isn't the ideal opportunity to
get hammered - so be wise.
wineries charge tasting fees - others don't. Often the fee
is reduced or eliminated if you purchase wine. So, if it
isn't clearly posted in the tasting room, just ask!
take some notes on the wines as you taste them. This isn't
mandatory, of course, and some people don't take any notes
at all. You can usually ask for one of the tasting or sales
sheets, and just make some short notes right there.If you
do take notes, just briefly note what you liked about the
wine - and maybe give each wine a check mark or two to remind
yourself which ones you liked the best.
of the winery tasting rooms are open to the public, but
it's a good idea to check for sure. Many wineries require
an appointment in order to visit them; others aren't open
to the public at all. If an appointment is required, you
should call well in advance - 1-3 weeks is usually sufficient.
(Harvest time can present a different set of problems,
as the smaller wineries often pull tasting room staff to
work the crush.) However, some wineries don't seem to
mind last minute (same day) requests, and I've heard of
and even seen many cases where visitors just drop by, hoping
to either talk their way into a tour/tasting, or hop aboard
someone else's appointment or tour. I frankly think this
is bad form. But, that's another story.
last thing - if you find yourself unable to make the appointed
time, call ahead to check with the winery. Aside from being
the polite thing to do, you just might find they've locked
you out as a "no-show."
hours of operation for most wineries fall in the 10am-4pm
or 11am-5pm area - something akin to that of a small retail
business. Some are open daily; others weekends, or extended
you have a planned itinerary, or you fly by the seat of
your pants, you're going to need some water and snacks to
help keep the wine at bay, and/or freshen the palate. I
suggest carrying along some cheese, bread or crackers, and
some fruit and veggies (slices of apple, and carrot or celery
sticks work well). If you've actually brought along enough
food for lunch, plan on tailgating about mid-day. It's a
good opportunity for a break. If you didn't bring enough
food to cover lunch, you can often pick up cheese, bread,
etc., at the winery (they may have a small deli selection
available) for picnicking on their grounds. Otherwise, plan
on stopping for lunch at a restaurant.
a good idea for tasters to match drink as much water
as they do wine, in order to keep the palate from drying
out and to stave off inebriation. So, you're going to
need several bottles of water per person. Also, you
probably ought to eat something beforehand - breakfast
or lunch. If it's been awhile since your last meal,
have something neutral - bread is excellent, and crackers
a good backup. Also, drink plenty of water beforehand.