Six things you need to do when you go wine tasting


Written by:

Joe Becerra

Last updated:

Sonoma Valley Wineries
niner estate paso robles
Niner Wine Estate tasting room in Paso Robles

Six things you need to do when you go wine tasting

As Spring approaches, the vineyards awaken from their winter sleep, and it’s time to go wine tasting in California, Oregon and Washington. Whether a first-timer or veteran wine country traveler, we offer these six things you need to do when you go wine tasting. Be safe and get the most out of your wine country getaway.

Designated Driver

It seems obvious yet, time and time again, people drive under the influence. It is easy enough to do if you visit several wineries for wine tasting. The local sheriff and Highway Patrol are always patrolling the main routes and popular backroads. Have a designated driver or hire a driver for the day. It is not worth the risk of endangering your life and the lives of others or spending the night in jail.

van-tours vs limos
Hire a driver for your day of wine tasting

Visit a small number of wineries

Don’t try and jam in a packed day of visiting tasting rooms. The idea is to discover a winery, take a tour, or do a food pairing, or a barrel tasting. Sip and enjoy the wines and enjoy the conversation about the wines with your server and others in the tasting room. We recommend no more than three wineries in one day. One in the mid to late morning,  one at lunchtime, and finish with a late afternoon visit. A picnic lunch at a winery is a terrific way to relax and enjoy the serenity of wine country.

Picnicking at a winery is always relaxing and fun

Plan and book appointments for tasting, food pairings, and tours

Don’t forget that most wineries now require an appointment to taste and take a tour. Pre-COVID many wineries were open for walk-in customers. This is longer the case. Decide on a winery to visit and select your activity and book an appointment.

Hall Winery in St. Helena

Think twice about joining the wine club

For a winery, the wine club is a huge source of income. Direct sales to their wine club members are the most profitable arrangement for selling wine. Wine clubs can be fun for members. Perks include winery parties and food events. Some wine clubs offer certain wines only to wine club members. It is often tempting to join a wine club because the wine is excellent, your server is gracious, and perhaps you are a bit overserved. You are in a vulnerable situation.  But, how about shipping costs? How about receiving varieties of wines that are not your favorites? The wine events usually are costly. We have joined several wine clubs over our many years of wine tasting. We have learned from experience that it is best not to join a winery’s wine club.  The Pros and Cons of joining a winery’s wine club.

should I join a wine club at a winery
This winelover just joined the wine club at this winery

Make it Educational

The main aspect of visiting wine country is having fun, but also make it educational.  Use the tasting notes provided in the tasting room and see if you can detect the listed aromas and characteristics. Ask questions about how the wine was fermented and aged.  A wine pairing with small snacks or appetizers is helpful in learning how wine interacts with food. How about doing a barrel tasting? Find out what wine tastes like in the barrel after just a few months or one year. A vineyard walk is always informative. Check the winery’s website for educational options.

tour guide burgundy
A bottle of wine begins in the vineyard

Buy some Wine

Tasting fees can vary from wine region to wine region. Napa Valley is the most expensive followed by Sonoma. If the wine tasting fees are not way out of line, it is always nice to help out the wineries by purchasing wine. This is especially true for the small family-owned wineries. The small wineries usually do not have a distributor, and direct sales are the best way to be profitable.

A six pack of wine is a great way to bring back memories of your trip
  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.

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