Seven Valuable Tips for Planning a Wine Tour
Being from the Finger Lakes area of upstate NY, and a lover of visiting wineries wherever I go, I have had the opportunity to go on and plan some wine tours. Here are my seven tips for planning the perfect wine tour.
This one should go without saying, but you need to have a transportation plan.
You might be thinking that seeing you are only tasking wines that you or someone in your party will be okay to drive.
However, tastings can add up quickly. Most wineries include 4-6 1-2oz wines in their tasting package. Therefore, you are drinking at least a glass of wine, if not more, at each stop. For your safety, and the safety of everyone else around you, give the keys to someone who is not tasting.
Transportation options include:
- A limo, van or bus with a hired Companies have vehicles of all sizes so there is sure to be one that fits your group.
- An underage family member or friend. A teenager or young college student might be willing to be your driver for payment.
- Someone who can not/does not drink. Wine tours are a great social activity and some people will want to be included even though they cannot participate. For example, a pregnant family member or friend.
- Free or paid shuttle services to and between wineries. Some areas provide this service. Check to see if the area you’re touring offers this service.
2. Order of Wineries
One thing you might not think of when planning your wine tour is the order you visit the wineries. The order matters for two main reasons.
First, the order impacts how much driving is done throughout the day. Look at a map and decide on an order based on locations instead of spending the day driving back and forth multiple times between the same areas.
The second reason the order matters is your ability to taste the wines fully. The more you drink, the harder it becomes to distinguish the flavors in the wine. If there is a winery where you really want to experience the full flavors of their wines, visit that winery early on your tour.
3. Tasting Room Hours and Days Open
All tasting rooms have different hours of operation and might not be open seven days a week. Even vineyards that are open late for events and allow the purchase of full bottles for on-site consumption, might not allow tastings after a certain hour.
Confirm a winery will be open when you plan to visit.
4. Booking tastings
If you are touring with a group, it’s always best to confirm the vineyard’s policies. Some wineries require you to book a reservation for groups over a certain size – especially if you are visiting on the weekend.
Keep in mind that in most cases, these are rules and not suggestions. Wineries that require reservations for your party’s size could turn you away if you arrive without notice.
While you will find some wineries that offer free tastings, most wineries along wine trails will charge a fee. Prices will vary depending on the location, average cost of wine at the winery, and the specifics of the tasting.
Here are some considerations if you are traveling with a group:
- Some wineries that require reservations for tastings will want payment at the time of the booking.
- One payment per group is often preferred and sometimes required. Therefore, consider collecting funds from all participants and have one person responsible for payment at all locations.
The last thing to remember about payments is to carry cash to tip the workers pouring your tastings.
6. Time at Each Winery
If you have time restricted transportation or you are making reservations at the wineries, you must adequately calculate the time you will spend at each location.
To not feel rushed, you will want to plan at least an hour at each vineyard. This is the minimum amount of time you will want to give yourself to casually sip your samples, walk through the gift shop, and enjoy the views.
In some cases, you will need to plan more time. This can be when you are traveling on a busy day, like a Saturday, if you are going to eat lunch at their restaurant, if you are going to take a tour of the location, or if you want to enjoy a purchased glass of wine after the tasting.
In addition to the time spent at each winery, you will also want to factor in the time it will take to drive between wineries when making plans.
7. In-between Food and Water
My last tip for when you are planning a wine tour is an important one. Make sure you plan to pack food and water for between each winery.
Staying hydrated and eating food will keep you going through the day and lessen the possibility of a hangover.
Wine tours are a lot of fun. If you have any questions as you plan your wine tour, let me know.
Do you have any other tips for planning a wine tour?