Never been to a winery? Don’t know what to expect?
Let me tell you a few things you need to be aware of before you decide to go on a self-guided winery tour.
1) Maps are VERY important. Most vineyards are located off the main roads, so you may get lost looking for them. Map them out online before you head out, and print out directions. If you ordered an info package from a state’s winemakers association, they may provide a map with it.
2) Plan to eat before your tasting. You don’t want to get tipsy and have to drive off. If you eat before the wine tasting, you will less likely to get intoxicated. If you don’t drink regularly, you will probably feel the effect of alcohol much faster. So, if you plan to do a lot of tasting (and swallow the wine), you should prepare your body by drinking a glass of wine with dinner a few days in a row
before your wine-tasting tour. This should increase your tolerance slightly, at least for the wine tour.
3) Once you get to a winery, you’ll most likely see a shop or a market-style set-up. Rain or
shine, these are open for business, selling wine and related goodies. Plan to browse around for some great stuff you won’t find in a supermarket. The vineyards themselves might be closed, for instance, due to weather.
4) Ask for a private tour. If the winery does not offer one, they will recommend a scheduled group tour. But if you go at a time when they are not busy, the owner should gladly show you the grounds and the cellars.
5) Before you pay for wine tasting, ask if they have any complimentary featured wines. The winery is interested in advertising your product, so they will most likely have a few bottles open as a promotion, even if they don’t advertise free tastings.
6) If you don’t know much about wine, ask for a wine 101 course at the winery. The person doing the tasting can enhance your understanding and enjoyment of what you’re trying by explaining how the wine or the grape fits into the overall wine world. If you’d rather know what you’re doing before you go, subscribe to the winery-explorer.com’s Wine 101 e-course.
7) Grab a bottle or two of the wines you liked. Oh, and if you have something in mind to purchase, and it is not available for general tasting, don’t be afraid to ask them to open a bottle so you can taste it first! It saved me a lot of money! Some wines I bought without tasting them first were awful! So I learned to inquire first.
8) Take pictures! ‘Recording’ your memories will allow you to enjoy them later and make your story about visiting a winery more fun when you share your experience with friends. Send me your favorite photos, and they will be published on this site if you like! Otherwise, photo submissions enter a quarterly prize draw for a surprise complimentary getaway!
9) Record your experience in an article. Pretend to be a travel writer, and publish your article on review sites or forums. Send me a copy as well, and it will appear as a link from the page of the state whose wineries you visited. Share with others what to do, and what not to do, where you would like to return, or where you would rather not go back to.
10) DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. If you’re feeling tipsy, grab a bite at the winery café (or get some goodies at the winery store). If they have a patio or a restaurant, sit and relax for a bit, and drink plenty of water to get alcohol out of your system. Coffee increases alertness as well, or even better, espresso.
Do not get into the driver’s seat unless you are certain that the level of alcohol in your blood is below the legal limit, your vision (especially in the dark) is not impaired, or you can walk, talk and think as you do when sober. Give up the driver’s seat to the person in your group who drank the least, ate the most, and weights the most. The alcohol effect is proportional to our measurements. Women, therefore, feel it more than men do, sooner.