Monday, August 8, 2011

Wine Tasting Tips - The Trip

I recommend to everyone this blog post on winery tasting room etiquette. “Don’t Be That Guy” in a tasting room won’t be your problem anymore. But there is more that makes your wine tasting trip less of a hassle and more fun. This is first part: tips for planning and logistics.

  1. Plan in advance. As trivial as it sounds some homework before hitting the road is really all you need in most cases. Pick the area and then do little research on Yelp, Snooth, etc. For example, you can search Snooth for articles on “Russian River Valley” or Yelp for wineries around city of Sebastopol or Santa Rosa or Healdsburg. Both will fetch you information on why, what, and where to see in this part of Sonoma.
  2. Do not stretch yourself. So do you want to spend more time tasting or driving? I bet the former (if you chose the latter then go to my post about NASCAR, then try to answer this question again). There are just so many tasting stops humans can do in one day: on my scale 5 is one too many, 3 is good, 2 is perfect. Pick a route from point A to point B and stay the course visiting wineries along the way. There are always great choices. Examples are abundant: Westside Road or Olivet Lane in Russian River, Route 12 or Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley, Silverado Trail in Napa, etc.
  3. Do not rush. Rushing on a wine country road is a big no. Rushing through wine tasting makes it unpleasant for both you and everyone around. If you spend less than 30 minutes at one place it would be express tasting to me.
  4. Wineries are not just about tasting wine. Often they have nice garden, picnic area or even walking trail and view. You can start there if tasting room is busy or go after to see where the wine you just tasted came from. I have scored some better views of Sonoma and Napa from the wineries’ picnic areas. Examples: Rochioli, Woodenhead in Russian River, Gundlach-Bundschu in Sonoma, Rutherford Hill in Napa.
  5. Start your trip early. Do you like long lines, people shouldering you, and waiting? If you can start early do so. Tasting rooms are much less busy. Personnel are fresh. Roads are empty. And finally it’s not hot outside so the wine you just bought won’t cook waiting for you in a car.
  6. Use picnic area. If you brought (or bought) food then this is the place to enjoy it. By planning picnic in advance you both save money and time. Don't forget to check with personnel that picnic area is available.
  7. It's ok to ask a host where to go next. They actually like this question. Wineries do not compete with each other but consider themselves a part of the same business. Let them know where you are going and ask for advice. I found the best tips that way.
  8. Bring a cooler to store wines you buy. The car gets hot in summer and you don’t want your wine get cooked in it. Make sure that wines are cool at all times.

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