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The Dos and Don’ts of Planning the Ultimate Wine Tasting Trip

Gregory McBeth
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Planning a trip to Tuscany, Sonoma, or the Willamette Valley can be a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of savvy insider knowledge, you can easily put together a memorable wine journey. Here we break down how to organize a tasting trip—what to do and what not to do.

Do your research in advance.

Love Chardonnay and Pinot? Head to a region that’s known for producing these varietals, like Los Carneros. Traveling with your dog? Look for wineries that allow pets on the property. Want a cheese plate with your wine? Choose wineries that have food options. The only way you know what each winery has to offer is by researching in advance of your trip. Consider your needs as a consumer in advance, then find the wineries that meet your requirements. Is the winery open late? Can you bring in a picnic? Is the tasting room kid-friendly? All it takes is a short email or quick phone call to find out. 

© 2021 Marc Fiorito // Gamma Nine Photography

Don’t select wineries that are far from each other.

If you know which wineries you want to visit, start by looking up their location, then see if any nearby tasting rooms look interesting and like they are worth visiting. For a seamless day of tastings, choose wineries in the same region and a short car drive away. You don’t want to spend the day in a car, caught in traffic, driving from one end of Napa to the other end. You want to be enjoying wine in the beautiful vineyards. Thus, if you’re booking an experience at Melier wine partner Cuvaison‘s tasting room at noon on a Saturday, you might want to make an appointment at Domaine Carneros at 2 p.m. The sparkling wine house is across the street from Cuvaison’s entrance. 

Do make appointments.

While some wineries accommodate walk-ins, savvy tasters know it’s best to make a reservation in advance. If you want to try Barnett Vineyards Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, call the winery and book an appointment with their team.  

Don’t over-schedule your day.

A great wine tasting can be a magical experience—so schedule enough time to enjoy each winery truly. Two hours per place is usually ideal. It’s enough time for you to tour the property’s beautiful gardens or take a  stroll through the vineyards or revisit that superb Sauvignon Blanc. Don’t book more than three tastings. If you do schedule a fourth, know that your palate might be tired and that you could show up to the tasting a little tipsy. Figure out how long it will take to get to and from each winery and add the travel time into your schedule. 

Do book a driver.

Plan your transportation before the day of festivities begins. Drunk driving is never cool—Book an Uber, Lyft, or another driver to deliver you to each appointment. Check your hotel to see if it has a complimentary shuttle to any nearby wineries. Some resorts offer complimentary bikes—if you’re not traveling too far, consider biking to the winery. 

Don’t forget to eat. 

Eat a healthy breakfast and pack sandwiches for lunch. Or eat a light breakfast and book lunch at a local restaurant in between winery visits. You want to remember the experience! Wine tasting on an empty stomach is not a good idea.

Do visit a bar or book an experience. 

If you are short on time and only have one day to enjoy wine country, book a day-long excursion like the Napa Valley Wine Train. All you have to do is board the train, and it will stop at several wineries, and lunch is included. Another option is to visit a tasting bar or bottle shop that offers wine experiences. For example, at K. Laz in Yountville, there are four different tasting offerings, including six wines. You’ll be able to experience six wineries without having to travel to each one. 

Don’t leave your wine. 

If you loved Goosecross Cellars Petite Syrah and know that you can’t find it anywhere else, you’ll want to bring a few bottles home. Figure out how you are getting it there. Did you bring an extra carry-on bag for transporting the wine? Could the winery ship a case to your home? Most wineries have a unique selection of bottles sold only at the tasting room. If you’re a sucker for this type of wine, make sure you have space to bring the wine home with you. 

Do let Melier do the work for you. 

Does all this planning sound intimidating and exhausting? Let us do the work for you. Melier offers private tasting experiences with our winery partners. Get in contact today to book your intimate journey with Melier.