Most of our travel during the past year has been virtual, but now that we are able to safely venture out it’s time to take your love of wine to the next level! Visiting wine country and tasting wine in the place where our beloved beverage is crafted is one of the most rewarding experiences vino voyages. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned wine country explorer, there are some protocols you should follow as you plan your trips, especially as many wineries may have changed their policies during this post-pandemic time. Use this guide to help make your wine country exploration both educational and fun!
Gone are the days of driving up to a winery, sauntering into the tasting room, expecting an impromptu wine tasting. Even the most laid-back of wineries require reservations and some form of pre-planning. The number of wineries allowing walk-in tastings began to dwindle pre-pandemic, but now more than ever a reservation is a must. While you may long for spontaneity, a reservation ensures you are receiving dedicated service and will increase your chances of learning about the wine. In addition, most wineries will charge a fee—which can be as high as $100 in some regions—so be sure you have budgeted your financees accordingly. And don’t forget to allot money for bringing a bottle home or joining the wine club—many small and independent wineries depend on the tasting room for selling their wine and it’s important to show your support.
…But Don’t Over Plan
Most novice wine country visitors want to pack in a full itinerary when touring wine country. Who doesn’t want to see as many pastoral and beautiful vineyards as possible? But be mindful of the logistics involved when plotting your day. Three wineries is a good number to visit especially if you are going to enjoy a full tasting, tour the winery, and perhaps order snacks—all which can take upwards of 2 hours. If you visit too many wineries you run the risk of diluting the experience and increase your chances of “over-enjoying.” On that note, ALWAYS have a designated driver or considering hiring a local transportation provider to ensure you have a safe and fun experience.
Snacking…and Spitting is Professional
Wine tasting on empty stomach is never a good idea as you run the risk of accidental inebriation or simply feeling nauseous. Make sure you eat a light meal before visiting the tasting room, bring your own snacks if allowable, or purchase food at the venue. And be mindful of the number and structure of tastings you have planned for your day. You may taste upwards of half a dozen wines in one winery which can equal 2 glasses of wine before you even buy the full glass. Now, imagine doing this at 2 or 3 subsequent wineries and before the day is over you could be drinking over a full bottle of wine! It is absolutely fine—and encouraged—to spit wine while you are enjoying your tasting. The pros do, and you should do it, too. And wineries don’t consider this practice “wasting” wine. Pacing yourself is smart, safe, and professional.
Find the Hidden Gems
As more and more wine lovers head out to wine country and health restrictions are lifted it’s expected that wineries and tasting rooms will get more crowded. We all have our favorite venues, but why not make an effort to seek out new wineries and even regions that are not as well-known or right off the main drag. It’s rewarding to discover off-the-beaten path wineries and create new memories. And many of these smaller, independent properties welcome the business especially as so many struggled during the pandemic. Ask friends or other wine professionals for their favorite, yet under-the-radar, wine country picks. Nothing can beat the sensory exploration of wine in its place of origin and if you are looking for wine travel inspiration look no further: read our blog and become of a member of Latinas Wine Club! We are traveling the wine world as we pursue our mission to educate, empower, and elevate Latinas through wine!