Touring a winery is the perfect opportunity to sample limited vintages, meet the winemaker, and gain an appreciation of a region’s wine. The top wine touring experiences are a result of planning a winery visit that is entertaining for some, educational for others and memorable for everyone.
This on Weekends
Weekends are generally the busiest time to tour a winery since many visitors make a weekend out of a particular region or wine country. Many wineries may have complimentary wine tastings for their popular mainstream bottles. But more expensive vintages may come with an additional tasting fee. In addition, peak season tours may also include regular tours of the vineyard.
Peak Season Winery Tours
In addition to the tip above, peak season tours may also include regular tours of the vineyard and this will also mean they are more willing to hand out bigger, fresher samples of their product. While it might be the busiest time for them, it could also be the best time for you.
Best Time to Tour a Winery Can be Morning, Weekday or Off-Season
If you still plan to visit on a Saturday or Sunday, consider a morning tour instead of an afternoon one. Although not everyone is very keen to taste Merlot at 10 a.m., tasting rooms are less crowded at this time. Furthermore, experienced tasters know that their palates are best in the morning. On the other hand, a weekday tour or off-season visit may offer a more intimate and attentive experience with an opportunity to ask more questions and sample additional vintages. In these cases, it is recommended to call ahead.
Coordinate a Winery Tour with a Wine Festival
Many wine festivals are combined with the harvest boo casino platforms. For example, in British Columbia, the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is held in October. Visitors can experience vineyard tours and numerous food and wine events throughout Okanagan Wine Country. On the other hand, the Niagara Wine Festival is held in September featuring street parades, wine seminars, and concerts. Unfortunately, during wine festivals, the wineries are usually very busy.
How to Meet the Winemaker
Vintners are passionate about their winemaking skills and are keen to talk about the process and taste. Find out from these professionals what separates their wine from competitors in the region. What is the difference in taste between one winery’s merlot versus the merlot at the winery one mile away? Also, get them talking about food pairing. But during harvest time (August to October), the vintner will be too busy making wine to tour guests around the winery (although other staff are present). To be sure that the winemaker will be available to answer questions, phone ahead and book a tour.
When is New Wine Released?
Before arriving at a winery, visitors should be knowledgeable when it comes to the winery’s popular wines, rare vintages and wine release dates. Coordinating a visit with when a particular wine will be launched is great for wine lovers to have first time bragging rights for tasting a new vintage. To get educated, check the winery websites or general wine websites like winerelease.com. In addition, call ahead of time to ensure that the bottles that are of interest will be available for sampling during the expected visit.
Visitors to wineries wishing to purchase wine should follow a few extra guidelines. Bring a cooler so purchases won’t cook in the trunk of a car. Keep in mind that most wineries will ship to almost everywhere. And, when possible get the vintner to sign any souvenir bottles purchased.
Wine festivals come in all sizes. They may be small local events that showcase the wines of a certain region or international events that attract visitors worldwide. Some are multi-day events that may include winemaker dinners, lectures, seminars and guided tastings. Most events conclude with a massed public tasting, often outdoors. Participants wander at will among the presenters, tasting whatever wines they choose. Food items are almost always present. In most cases, you will find displays of cheeses and bread along with cured meats. Larger events may include catered foods from local restaurants or community service groups.
Wine tasting events are exactly that. The wines are offered as an introduction to the products of various wineries. A typical pour is around one or one and a half ounces. You need not swallow the wine. Dump buckets are always in evidence and the presenters expect you to use them.
Learning from a Wine Festival
For many people, wine festivals are little more than big parties, but to the student of wine, they present wonderful opportunities to learn firsthand from winery owners, winemakers, and viticulturists. Whatever your wine background may be, there are always things to be learned and the education is free. You can learn about the latest trends in vineyard management, trellising, organic farming; why many wineries harvest their grapes at night, different pressing techniques, the different effects of various kinds of cooperage; and any questions you may have relating to wine. You are among experts.
Charting Trends in Winemaking
One of the most valuable kinds of information these festivals offer is the current state of the art in a particular region. As you return year after year you will observe firsthand the growth of wine production in that region. You might be amazed. A couple of decades ago the spectrum of quality was very wide in most regions and still is in many parts of the U. S., U. K. and Canada-places where the wine industry is still in an early stage of development. But in places where the industry has matured, such as California, Oregon, and Washington State, you are unlikely to find any poorly made wine. But you will find differences between the wines.
Over the past decade, we saw a sharp rise in the alcoholic content of most wines as winemakers sought a richer, more flavorful product that might bring higher scores in wine reviews. That trend has peaked and many wineries are backing down on alcohol levels to achieve better balance and food-friendliness. Trends like this become apparent to anyone attending the same festival over a period of years.
The Paso Robles Wine Festival
The Paso Robles Wine Festival, held each year on the third weekend of May, has become one of California’s premier public wine events. The three-day festival features a sommelier-guided tasting of wines specific to the region, a silent auction, and concludes with a grand tasting under the spreading oaks of City Park.