Planning a day of wine tasting can be overwhelming and daunting. There are so many wineries to choose from, how do you begin planning a wine tasting itinerary. This episode talks about two simple clues that will give you the focus needed to design a great itinerary and ensure a smooth day of wine tasting.
Hi there! Today we’re going to talk about two clues that make wine tasting itineraries less stressful. The question I am frequently asked, by customers and when I am interviewed, is how do you come up with wine tasting itineraries. So today, I’d like to give some inside perspective on how I create itineraries. When you think about it, it doesn’t sound that complicated. And it really shouldn’t be. There was a time when we didn’t even need to create an itinerary, because wine country was predominantly walk-in and wine taste at the bar. No reservations required.
Now we live in a “reservations required or highly recommended” world, which means..It’s in your best interest to have an itinerary. So let me take some stress out of it and offer some logic that can be used every time you want to go wine tasting.
In my world, I’m mostly planning for guests of the Wine Shuttle, but I face the same challenges as any individual. Especially when I visit a wine country that I have never been to before. These are the most important clues no matter what scenario you are in.
One important clue that helps us plan a successful itinerary is the pick up location. Or the location you are originating from. If you are staying in a Willamette Valley wine town for example, your location gives a clue for what tasting region or AVA (American Viticulture Area) is closest to you. This is important because you don’t want to be driving all day. Your time should be spent in the tasting room. And since tastings last about one hour and 15 minutes to an one hour and a half, at least 4 hours of your day is committed to being in a tasting room. You don’t want to tack on that much more driving. Or it makes for a long day.
This is when the next piece of information is helpful. Many times, people have done some research or talked with friends and typically have a winery or two in mind. Great! If it’s in the AVA close to your origination, jackpot. If not, no worries.
If this is a winery that excites you, then plan an itinerary around the area of which the winery is located. For example, if you are in Carlton and you would like to visit a winery in Amity, plan an itinerary centered around the Eola Amity Hills AVA. That way you get a feel for the wines produced in that region. This means you’ll do a bit more driving to the first winery and after the last, but you will be very efficient with your transportation in general.
I’ll summarize. The first step in planning an efficient itinerary is to choose a single area to focus your itinerary.
Once you have the region or AVA you would like to focus on, it’s time to choose wineries. Since it’s essential to eat during your day of wine tasting, especially if you plan to visit 2-3 wineries, food is the next clue that will help you choose the first winery.
The way I see it, you have three options for food. 1) Bring your own 2) Purchase food at the winery 3) stop and have lunch along the way. Depending on which one you choose, can greatly alter your itinerary. Let’s break this down.
If you choose option 1, the only thing you must pay attention to is what wineries allow outside food. Let me tell you there aren’t very many. A good option would be to leverage a winery search with some good filters. Willamette Valley Wineries Association has a good one, but please remember it is not inclusive of all wineries in a particular region. Another way I search for wineries is going to google maps and entering “wineries near” and then include the name of the region you’d like to focus on. Google will populate a list and a map that makes it easy to click on different wineries and view pictures and reviews to get a feel for what’s nearby. If one sparks your interest, visit the website and check out the food policies. I’m not gonna lie, this can take some time. Almost like getting sucked into social media. This is where pictures can save you some time. We all know people like to take pictures of pretty food items.
Option 2, is to purchase food at the winery. This is the easiest way to ensure sustenance during your day of wine tasting. Many wineries now offer charcuterie boards for purchase. If you design wine tasting itinerary of three wineries, chances are 1-2 of them will have food (such as charcuterie, not much more). I say that, there are a few wineries like Furioso that have the Wooden Heart food truck serving pizza seven days a week! This option is my preference for convenience, and also I get to try various local provisions.
With this option I don’t stress too much, I usually choose wineries based on the wines and ambiance they offer and then determine which ones have food and put them in the first or second stop of the itinerary. If you are a foodie, you may want to consider doing a wine and food pairing. Just make sure to plan for some extra time.
Going out to eat is option 3. This option is very rare if you are wanting to taste at multiple wineries. It just takes up too much time. If you just want to taste at one winery and have lunch then this is a wonderful option to get to know an area and try new local cuisine. Otherwise I’d stick with option 1 or 2.
Ok enough food talk, but it’s an important part of your itinerary so it’s worth thinking it through.
Let’s just say you’ve received zero recommendations for wineries from family and friends and you are visiting from the location metropolitan area, so you don’t have a preference on region. Then you have two recommended options to discover wineries, get on good old Google and do some of your own research. Like I said you really just need one winery that excites you and then you can focus on an area and visit wineries near that one. The other option, which is why I am in business, is to have someone curate the itinerary for you. Spare yourself the time. They can take the same variables and use their extensive knowledge of the area to pull together delightful itinerary.
In summary, determining a single region to wine taste in and knowing your food options are the two best clues for designing an enjoyable wine tasting itinerary. If you have any questions about your next visit to wine country email firstname.lastname@example.org.