How To Pick Where To Go Wine Tasting
Visiting less traveled wine regions is often more fun because of the adventure factor.
Where are you going? Are there vineyards there? What is the weather like? What wines are this region most known for? What is the terrain like? How touristy is it? How big is it? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself to key-in on where to go.
Despite the fact that wineries will tell you that they do everything great, this is rarely the case. Most wine regions specialize in a particular type of wine, and thats what you should expect to seek out. For example, if you go to Rioja, be prepared to drink a lot of Tempranillo and eat more than your fair share of white asparagus. If you go to Napa, expect to hear everyone tell you about their awesome Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are our best tips on finding the right places to go:
- Look for producers who are small and have their own vineyards. They tend to be way more laid back and also much more knowledgeable about the nature of their wines.
- Seek out wineries in the hills as they are less traveled, cheaper, more appreciative of visitors, and have stupendous views.
- You only need to go on 23 winery tours to fully appreciate the entire winemaking process, so pick a winery tour thats lead by the winemaker or winemakers assistant. Winemakers and their assistants are super helpful, educational and unapologetically realin a good way!
How Do Wine Tastings Work
After you arrive at the winery with a reservation, a server will greet you with several options to try. Slowly, youll receive samples throughout the tasting. Smell the wine before sipping, and observe the color and clarity of each serving.
Your host might even offer you a tour of the winery to get a closer look at how wine is made and the materials involved in the process.
Make An Appointment At Smaller Wineries
Some of the smaller wineries might ask that you make an appointment prior to your visit, but relax, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a big, expensive production.
Often, their use permit just requires it, and they’d be happy to welcome you on a weekend with a few minutes notice. Find winery listings here.
If you’re scheduling a wine and food pairing with the winery’s hospitality staff, on the other hand, plan it well in advance. And give yourself plenty of time – two hours per winery if you’ll be taking a tour or sitting down for a tasting.
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Pros Of Wine Tasting Tour In Alsace
However, the pros of joining a tour are numerous!
If you dont have your own transport and base yourself in Strasbourg and Colmar, this is an excellent way to see something of the region and Alsace wines for tasting.
Plus, you get all the information from a knowledgeable English-speaking guide! You learn something and you can taste wine!As an added bonus, you dont have to worry about the logistics, driving in a foreign country and you might meet some interesting people on the tour.
Here are some recommendations of wine tasting tours:
Consider Hiring A Wine Tour Operator
There are a variety of reputable wine tour companies located in Beaune, Dijon and other locations that will schedule a private tour for a fee. Often this includes tastings of Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines, as well as lunch someplace along the way. See a couple of options HERE and HERE. The advantage of this method is that you dont have to worry about driving and getting lost on the tiny back roads of Burgundy
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Watch For Dgustation And Vente Signs
As you drive through the small villages of Burgundy, keep an eye out for signs advertising Degustation and Vente. This means wine tasting and sales are available. The location may be a domain or a wine shop, and you may be charged a small tasting fee, but usually it can be a wonderful experience. Farmers markets will usually have a few booths where it is possible to taste local wine as well.
Tasting Room Sign for Domaine Jean Chartron in Puligny-Montrachet
Familiarize Yourself With What The Region Is Known For
At this point in your wine vacation planning, youve probably learned a decent amount about whatever region it is youre visiting. Below, well quickly list off a few other things you should familiarize yourself with before your visit.
What grape is the region best known for?
When does the region harvest their grapes?
Have I done my research on the general history of the wine region?
Should I familiarize myself with local winemaking practices so I can appreciate the region more?
What is the average cost for a bottle of wine in the region?
What is the average cost of a tour in the region?
What is the average cost of a tasting in the region?
Generally, how does tipping work in the region?
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How To Go Winetasting In Burgundy 6 Tips For Wine Tourists
Due to its long history as a top growing wine region for chardonnay and pinot noir, Burgundy is obviously a place where many tourists want to go winetasting. However, unlike many New World wine locations, such as Napa and Sonoma, it is not always possible to drop by a winery to taste wine without an appointment. There are some exceptions, with more domains opening cellar door operations in the past several years, but in general, it is necessary to do some advance planning.
Wine Tasting at Chateau Mersault
According to the Burgundy Wine Board , there are 3890 wine producers in the region, along with 17 cooperatives, and 282 wine merchants. Despite these impressive numbers , many of Burgundys domains are tiny family operations, with wine that is allocated to distributors and exporters. This means they usually do not have much wine left over to sell to the casual tourist, and during years when Mother Nature decimates the vineyards with frost or hail, there is even less wine. However, it is always possible to go winetasting in Burgundy, as long as you have clear expectations and do a little advance planning.
Infographic on Burgundy Wine Statistics. Source: BIVB
Do Go In With An Open Mind
Its never a bad thing to know what you like and dont like, but wine tasting is the perfect time to experience something new or give a flavor you havent liked in the past another try. After all, youre tasting, not committing to buying a bottle of everything you sip. You never know when a wine is going to surprise you while tasting, so go in open-minded and try a variety of wines!
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Get The Free Visitors Guide And Map
Already thinking about how to get here? Consider flying into STS – Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, where you can fly direct from Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Diego and more. Don’t worry too much over the musts and the mustn’ts.
If you’re new to wine tasting in Sonoma County, or if it’s been a long time and you think you need a brush-up, consider keeping these tips in mind:
Planning A Trip To Wine Country
The first step in planning a wine tour is deciding where you’ll visit. In the United States, the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California are well known for their vineyards. Michigan, Oregon and the Lake Erie and Niagara regions are also popular destinations. Internationally, France is home to Bordeux, Burgandy, Champagne, Loire and Rhone. In Italy, Tuscany, Sicily, Veneto and Fruili are all popular destinations.
While it’s possible to enjoy good wine and have a great experience spending one afternoon in a single winery, for a nice regional wine tour, schedule three or four days. If you’re traveling internationally, you may want to allocate up to two weeks. On international trips, the tour schedule typically includes small breaks to visit tourist destinations in the area.
Once you have a destination in mind and know how long you plan to spend in the region, it’s time to make reservations. Schedule your wine tour during the growing season. In Europe and North America, that’s April to October. In New Zealand, visit during February or March to witness the grape harvest. While some wineries allow visitors during the winter months, when the grapevines are dormant, you’ll miss out on the awesome experience of walking through the rows of grapevines with fruit hanging heavily as far as the eye can see.
If a traditional wine tour sounds too stuffy or dull, try an alternative:
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Buying Wine In Alsace
If you intend to buy some wine, either one bottle or a whole case, it is always good to take notes. Either by physically writing down the name of the grape and wine or taking pictures of the label or by asking them to leave the bottle on the table.
If you taste over 9 different wines, it is hard to tell which was your favorite and which is a hard no. Once youve hit the sweeter wines, it is difficult to go back to a dry Riesling and ask to re-taste it to determine which one youd like to buy.
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Wear The Wrong Clothes To Tour The Vineyard
Be sure to wear impractical shoes. It is much easier to ruin a day of wine tasting when the group tour has to wait for you to toddle through the vineyard in your stilettos. It is also highly recommended that you leave your sweater, wrap, or light jacket back at the hotel. That way you can ruin everyones wine tasting experience with a melodic whine about how its cold in the wine cave.
Sage Advice: If you love wine, expand your horizons beyond the United States by wine tasting in one of these 18 countries. If you are visiting South Africa, be sure to go on a wine tasting tour in Stellenbosch.
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Villa Medicea Di Lilliano
This magnificent villa and estate offer a wine tour that includes the panoramic terrace towards Florence, unique winter garden, historic cantina and olive groves. The family run estate di Lilliano is rich in history and ambiance, if you have time for one only … this is the closest to the city center and definitely impressive. You can arrive in Grassina with either the local bus or the regional bus , it is a steep walk up to the estate…but it is only 1.5 km and in a calm residential area with hardly any traffic. For abmiance & the historic cantina – this vineyard gets 4 stars. More information or reservations, check out their WEBSITE.
A Few Notes On Accommodation
There are basically 2 choices when it comes to accommodation: a.) stay somewhere where the accommodation is a large part of the experience OR b.) sleep and shower as cheaply as possible to save your resources for other aspects of your trip .
The best way to choose your accommodation is to think about your travel companion for the answer. If theyre a bit finicky, pick a place thats a joy to visit and plan a spa day for them while you go adventure on your own.
Camping? Unless youre in an RV, vanagon, yurt, or glamping tent it really sucks to camp while on a wine tasting trip.
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When In Doubt Go With A Simple Outfit
Honestly, wine tasting is literally just fancy day drinking. Youll be tired and a wee bit drunk after a long day of sipping wines. Skip the button-up romper that is hard to take on and off, or the wrap dress that likes to blow around and instead just wear something simple and/or hassle-free.
Now time for some major style inspiration!
Wine Tasting Outfit Ideas Winter
I dont think Ive ever had a hot winter wine tasting experience. Maybe a few that are warmish but plan on it being chilly if youre visiting a winery in the winter I always like to wear warm maxi or midi dresses, especially sweater dresses. Or jean with sweaters, coats and boots.
Anything that has layers and tons of warmth in case your wine tour takes you on a stroll through a cold wine cave or something. Always pack an umbrella, too, as theres a good chance youll get winter rain! Keep in mind the vines will be dead and brown, so you probably wont be taking too many wonder babe photos strolling the vineyards this time of year.
Shop Winter Wine Tasting Outfits
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How To Not Embarrass Yourself At A Winery
Tasting wine isnt about rules. That said, when youre at a winery, you should really follow these 8 rules.
There is an unspoken code of conduct that comes into play when visiting a winery. After all, some wineries see hundreds of visitors a day, while othersexclusive appointment-only wineriesmay entertain as few as 10 guests daily. But no matter the size of the crowd, passing out on the welcome couch and drooling all over some custom-designed pillows because you drank too much isnt going to fly. Making matters worse, all anyone can smell is the powerful cologne you doused yourself with, which is now saturating the pillow, too.
So, its time for the talk. Not that oneI mean, how not to embarrass yourself at a winery.
Its easy to get caught up in the romance of visiting wine countryand even easier to land a quick buzz by drinking everything offered to you. But things can get sloppy fast. And, hey, weve all been there.
I remember my first wine tasting in Napa Valley. My then-fiance and soon-to-be mother-in-law dropped by Heitz Cellars in St. Helena, California, which in the early aughts offered free tastings. I recall being timid and unsure of the protocol, so I drank everything: two-ounce pours of maybe ten different wines in about 20 minutes time. By the end, my knees were buckling, I was quoting Frank Sinatra and trying to convince the host I was looking to buy Heitzmuch to the dismay of my future mother-in-law and wife.
Tips For Wine Tasting During Covid
Welcome back to Paso Robles Wine Country, where the hills are rolling, the wine is pouring, and the good times are just beginning! When you are ready to return to your favorite wineries or explore some new finds, know that they are ready to safely invite you back. To help safeguard you, your friends, and our community, wineries are adhering to the latest health and safety protocols for an enjoyable reopening. In collaboration with Travel Paso, here are our 11 pro tips for making the most of your trip to wine country!
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Tips For Wine Tasting In Alsace
Now that you know how to go about tasting wine in Alsace independently, I have some common tips for you:
- You dont need to book ahead because you can always stop at a different winery, during peak harvest times it might be a good idea to call ahead.
- If youre dead-set on visiting a certain vineyard, I do recommend booking ahead
- For tastings, no need to call ahead but for tours, food & wine pairings, or tours like vineyard bike tours, you need to book in advance
- Always check opening hours. Some wineries are only open on certain days. In general, if open, the hours are 9.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 17.00/18.00/19.00
- Bring your own water. They dont offer it with the tasting but I recommend rinsing between tasting the different types of wine. Food or snacks are also not offered or included.
- Dont wear perfume or after-shave or other heavy odorous scents. This can intervene with the tasting of the wine
- As you can read, the person pouring the wine expects that you know what youd like to taste. Do a quick search about the winery and their wines on offer. If will make the wine tasting easier as you can request a specific wine
- Always follow the recommended order for tasting. Start with a Crémant DAlsace if they have it and work your way up from dry to sweet.
Come To A Wine Event Or Festival
Sonoma County wineries offer a plethera of exclusive, unique experiences and events. These range from intimate dinners with the winemaker to harvest events to opportunities to taste new vintages before anyone else.
A post shared by Bricoleur Vineyards on Aug 16, 2020 at 3:50pm PDT
For more options, check our calendar of events for updates, or .
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Bringing Wine Home With You
Many wine tourists stumble across a beautiful style of wine they tried at a tasting or on a wine tour. Its very common for these consumers to want to bring a few bottles home with them. Consider this ahead of time, and either bring a suitcase that allows for wine storage while traveling or set some money aside in your overall budget to account for purchasing wine and potentially having it shipped home. If youre looking for a good suitcase to transport wine back home with you, check out this highly-rated 12 bottle case.