Saturday, December 04, 2010

Five Tips for Visiting Wine Country

Wine Country welcomes millions of visitors every year.  Here are five tips to make your visit more enjoyable:
  1. Plan Ahead:  Decide what part of wine country you want to visit so you can focus your tasting on a smaller area.  After all, it's more fun tasting in the wineries than being stuck in traffic on Hwy 29 in Napa.  Try to make any necessary appointments well in advance as a few of the more popular wineries can fill up six weeks ahead of time.
  2. Visit One or Two Appointment-Only Wineries: More than half of the wineries that welcome visitors require an advance appointment.  These wineries control the number of visitors and, therefore, usually provide for a more personalized tasting experience.  However, don't make more than one or two appointments on any one day as you don't want to be constantly rushing off to the next winery.
  3. Limit What You Taste:  After tasting at three or four wineries, you are likely to begin to suffer from palate fatigue; where you can no longer taste the differences among the wines.  Therefore, don't plan on visiting too many wineries and limit what you taste at the wineries you do visit.  This will also help to ensure that you drive safely.
  4. Take Only One Winery Tour:  Winery tours are interesting but, unless you are a real wine geek, one tour will suffice.  Do note that some of the appointment-only wineries do not offer tastings without also taking a tour.  If you would like to visit one of these wineries, make this the one winery you tour.
  5. Eat Breakfast and Lunch:  Having some food in your stomach can reduce the affects of the alcohol and make for a more enjoyable day.  Plus there's lots of great food in wine country.  You'll definitely want to have lunch; whether it's a picnic at a winery or a gourmet lunch at one of region's fine restaurants. 
I hope these tips are helpful.  I try to keep them in mind when I organize wine country tours for my guests.  If you would like to take a private wine country tour, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at or (866) 326-4237 (toll free).