Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are known best for being California’s “wine country,” and if you have plans to travel to the area, you’ll want to plan to enjoy some wine tasting. There are hundreds of of wineries in the wine country area, and you could spend weeks just taste-testing wines. Some of the best ones, though, are Sullivan Vineyards, Kuleto Estate, Del Dotto Wine Gallery, and Swanson Vineyards in Napa Valley. In Sonoma Valley, you should try the Benziger Family Winery, the HKG Tasting Room, Matanzas Creek, and Ravenswood. Wherever you decide to go for your wine tasting experiences, here are a few tips to help make it those experiences enjoyable.
- Have a designated driver. Whether you hire a driver or bring along a designated non-drinker, it’s always best to be safe. Though you should avoid overindulging at a wine tasting – it’s considered rude, and after awhile, all the wines will end up tasting the same – the odds are good that you will end up drinking more wine than you expect to. You also may not be used to drinking through the daylight hours. If you include a hired car or designated driver in your plans from the start, you won’t have to worry if you end up unable to safely drive.
- Have a plan. Start by ascertaining which wineries are open on the day that you plan to take your tour of the local wineries. You’ll want to choose a day when several are open, and plan your route carefully. Don’t try to include too many stops. Most likely, you won’t be able to enjoy more than five wineries in one day, and if you’re new to this, three might be a better number. Make sure to leave yourself time to mingle in the tasting rooms and certainly factor in time for a good lunch. Many wineries offer tables, so you might consider bringing a picnic lunch with you.
- Try and buy, taking notes in the process. If you have a chance to try unusual, small-production wines, take it. This is the perfect chance to try something new, different, and rare with low cost and minimal risk. Takes notes while you’re at the winery, don’t rely on your memory. You may want to go back and buy one of the wines you’re tasting, and you’ll want to remember which one that was. Also, remember not to overbuy, as you don’t want to run into the problem of figuring out how to get it all home. Remember that in many cases, the winery will be able to ship the wine to you at home, and you can always order online from there. This is another good reason to make notes.
Make sure you bring bottled water with you, and after each stop you make, try to drink an amount of water equal to the amount of wine you consumed. This will help prevent dehydration. A day spent touring the wineries should be fun and relaxing; just be sure to prepare carefully.