If you love drinking wine but have never visited a winery or gone on a wine tour, then your life is incomplete. Not only are wine tours a fantastic way to learn more about how the glorious beverage is made and how each kind is different, but you’ll get to sample various types! That’s right―there’s more to vino than just the “house red” or “house white!”
In addition, vineyards have a funny way of being located in beautiful regions, which typically are pretty hot and amazing during the summer months. So, if visiting stunning fields of grape vines and sipping wine all day in the sun sounds good to you, then you might want to learn how to do a wine tour.
Oh, and if these reasons weren’t enough, buying wine direct from a vineyard is usually cheaper than what you would pay at the local store. So, if you’re looking to stock up your wine selection and impress your wine-loving friends, taking a wine tour could really help out.
Do Some Research
While there are plenty of amazing reasons to take a wine tour―though drinking wine should be enough―if you don’t do some homework beforehand, it could turn out to be a nightmare. If you’re thinking about planning the wine tour yourself, then doing some research is particularly important.
Although some people might think that visiting any winery sounds like a fantastic idea, the reality is that some might not provide very informative wine tours, if they provide them at all. For example, a smaller vineyard may not have the staff to give a wine tour, or they may not make the type of wine you’re looking for. Of course, they could also make wine that’s downright horrific.
The last thing you want to do is to spend valuable time heading out to a vineyard, only to find out it doesn’t do tours. Or, if after seeing the winery you’re afraid to step out of the car, you might be a little annoyed. If you’re hoping to visit a few vineyards in one day then try to choose a region that has several close together. The less time on the road, the better.
This is why some people elect to book a trip with a wine tour company, which typically consists of experts on the region who will take you to vineyards that make great wine. Not every wine-touring company is as good as the other, however, so you’ll need to do some research and see which ones have good reviews.
Figure Out Your Transportation
Another perk of booking with a wine tour company is that they’ll give you and your pals a lift to the vineyards. Naturally, it costs a little money to go this route, but if you plan on sampling wine all day then you shouldn’t be driving anyway.
If sitting on a bus or van filled with strangers isn’t your thing, then your entourage will need to designate a driver for the day. This way you can also stick to your own schedule and not someone else’s. Depending on where you are and whether you can afford it, you could also hire a driver.
Don’t Go at Peak Times
If possible, try your damndest to avoid going to a vineyard over the weekend and later in the afternoon. This is usually when wineries are packed full of sweaty, wine-hungry people. If you’re hoping to relax and sample as much wine as possible, avoid the peak times.
If you can swing it, head out to the vineyards on a weekday, or if it has to be over the weekend, try to go earlier in the day. Calling ahead to see what time the vineyard starts doing tours is also wise.
While drinking wine is, and should be, the focus, you’ll likely enjoy yourself more if you take the time to learn something. Usually one of the vineyard’s staff will take you out to the grape vines, tell you about the grapes they use and why, and then walk you through the facility and explain how the wine is made. If nothing else, you’ll sound like quite the wine connoisseur the next time you’re out with your friends and explaining how ice wine is produced.
Sample Different Wines
Most vineyards not only make several kinds of wine, but many of them will let you sample some from different years. Don’t be shy about asking to sample a wide range of wines. If you don’t like one, and for some crazy reason you don’t want to drink it, there will be a spittoon nearby for you to use. The more wines you try, the more you’ll learn about which wines you like and which you don’t.
While it’s not a good idea to get absolutely tanked and possibly cut off, you don’t have to worry about people thinking you’re a lush or freeloader if you have a few samples. Vineyards offer free samples with the hopes you’ll buy a bottle, or two, or three, or even a case.
Take Care of Your Wine
If you do end up buying some wine (and you probably will), make sure you store it properly so it doesn’t break. Remember that wine and heat don’t mix; so if you’re traveling to more wineries throughout the day, make sure the bottles you buy are protected from the sun. Parking your car in the shade and cracking a window so that the car doesn’t turn into a sauna is also smart.