Almost everybody loves traveling to wine country. The scenic vineyards and the interesting people you meet, and all the wine! The winemakers and winery owners are some of the world’s most charming and interesting people, and they share samples of their wine for a nominal tasting fee.

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your day trip to wine country with NW Wine Coach.

  1. It’s best to hire a tour guide and stay well hydrated throughout the day. Chances are you will taste more wine than you expected. Not only that, but if you’re typically not a day drinker, it could catch up with you pretty quickly. NW Wine Coach has got you covered! We will make all of the arrangements for your visits to the wineries, transport you, provide a “wine country lunch” during your day with us along with supplying plenty of water throughout the day.
  2. We’ll go early in the day. The thing that’s the most fun about a winery visit is chatting with the people behind the bar, who are often the owners or winemakers, especially at smaller wineries. They won’t have time to talk with you if it’s busy. Tasting rooms typically open by 10 AM, so plan to start your day early.
  3. We’ll focus on the smaller, boutique wineries for your visits. Sometimes the larger places with big parking lots, T-shirts for sale and lots of hired help can be intimidating, and it starts to feels like Disneyland. To feel the passion of wine and winemaking, it’s important to set the smaller places where you can really spend some quality time with the people behind the bar. NW Wine Coach will hand-select wineries that provide a quality wine tasting experience for you, and will provide you the most up-to-date education on their wines and their wine-making style.
  4. We’ll plan your trip together so you visit your list of “must see” wineries, discover some new wineries that match your taste, and maximize your travel time between each winery visit.
  5. Be cool in the tasting room.  Yes, this seems obvious; however, most people are used to shopping at big box stores, and they forget about the people and focus on the transaction. In a smaller winery, you may likely be in part of the production room for your tasting and quite possibly talking to the owner and winemaker. Be nice, and show them the respect they deserve.
  6. Try new wines. If you stick to wines and grapes varietals you know, you could miss out on the regional specialties.  Perhaps the winery makes a Chardonnay, but it may not be as good as its Auxerrois which you have never tasted.  Try new wines to discover if they match YOUR taste.
  7. Have an answer to the question, “What kind of wine do you like?” Tasting-room personnel tend to ask this reflexively as an ice breaker, but many people who aren’t totally comfortable with wine find it hard to answer on the spot. In any event, you should be a little hesitant to answer it directly.  Try new wines and not only the kinds of wines you already know you like. Even if you think you only like dry wines, you should try some that are sweet, and vice versa. Think about saying something like, “I enjoy all kinds of wines. Which would you start with?”
  8. Ask where the grapes were grown and the soil composition in which they were grown. Many wineries these days all over the country make wine from grapes grown in California, Washington, or someplace else far away. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but when you visit an Oregon winery, part of the fun of the visit should be tasting wines made from grapes grown in Oregon! If you don’t want to ask, just peek at the label. If it says “estate bottled,” that’s a sign that the grapes were probably grown in the vineyard where you are tasting right now, or from a nearby Oregon vineyard.
  9. Ask questions. Don’t be shy. If you ask simple questions like “Does this look like it will be a good year?” or “What food goes best with this wine?” the person behind the counter will appreciate your interest. There are no stupid questions.
  10. Remember that it’s a tasting room, not a bar.  People who have had too much to drink ruin the tasting experience for everybody, so be very careful about how much you’re drinking.  It’s OK, and very acceptable, to taste and spit in the “spit bucket” provided for your tasting.  Refresh your palate throughout the day with wine crackers, sips of water, etc. that are provided at each winery stop.
  11. Carefully select each bottle you buy.  Determine if you are buying wine to drink now, or buying wine to “lay down” and drink several years from now.  Most wineries provide case discounts and can ship across state lines. Most wineries have “wine clubs” with associated discounts for purchased wine in their club shipment/s throughout the year. It’s a nice gesture to buy a bottle or two, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to buy if the wine does not match your palate. Inquire if the winery will ship your selected wines to you and what are the associated discounts.
  12. We’ll keep your purchased wines cool throughout the day.  They will arrive safely with you at the end of the day.
  13. Wine tastes better at the winery. The wines you bought at the winery may not taste as good at home as they did at the winery. We’re sorry to end this list with a downer, but it’s true. When you’re there, surrounded by the wondrous sights and smells of a winery, with the winemaker across the bar, pouring wine in pristine condition that has never traveled, the wine tastes special. You simply can’t replicate those conditions at home. But this is exactly why you should go back to those wineries you enjoyed on our tour and have another glass!  Better yet, book another day of wine tasting with us to discover more wines that match your taste!