Wednesday, August 20, 2014

6 Secrets For a Winning Wine Tour

Over 30 million travelers in the U.S. have taken a professional food or wine tour since the turn of the 21st century. If you’re a wine lover, chances are you check for any wineries located close by whenever you travel. But have you thought about taking a professional wine tour? Here are five reasons to consider "taking the bus."

A Fun Tour Guide
1) A wine tour is only as good as the people leading it, so if the guides are good, you may get all kind of extra perks like behind the scene tours, a bit of wine history, even tips on which wines to try.  Find out if the tour guides are knowledgeable about wine. Do they have personal wine experience?  Have they been involved in the industry? Few people get involved in the tour business unless they want to share a memorable and fun experience to others who have a similar interest.

Winery Production Area
2) Know what YOU want a tour to cover.  Do you want to see where and how the wine is made, or do you just want to taste the wines?  Would a trip through the vineyard be interesting, or would you rather have time in the gift shop?  Hiring a profession wine tour company is a bit like having a personal shopper.  You need to know your basic requirements to be satisfied and then find a tour that meets those needs.

3) Visit the tour company’s web site or Facebook page; check their TripAdvisor reviews. If you like what you read, call them and ask some questions. If they don’t or won’t take time to talk with you on the phone, they probably won’t on the tour either.

4) Ask relevant questions:
What is included in the tour and price?  Is it a winery tour or a wine tasting tour? Is the tour company independent of any winery? Will you meet the winemakers or winery owners?  Do you get a souvenir glass to taste with and keep?  Is a meal or snacks available on the route?  Is food included in the price?  Is bottled water available?  Who pays any tasting fees?  Is tipping of the winery staff expected?  Is there a discount on wine purchased on the tour? Will your tour vehicle be locked during destination stops? Is there an age restriction for tour participants? Are ID’s required in order to be served? Are you limited to the number of bottles/cases of wine you can purchase on the tour? Will the tour company assist you in shipping the wine back home? What is the cancellation policy?

Meet the Winemaker
A winery tour may include a trek through the vineyards, a quick trip through the production facility, a chat with the winemaker, or just tasting at the bar. Know ahead of time what to expect.

A Tasting Flight
5) Do your homework to get the maximum enjoyment from the trip. Take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the wineries you’ll be visiting. Have an idea what you’d like to taste at each stop and find out how long each stop will be. 

6) Dress for the occasion: If you will be entering the winemaking facility on your tour wear flats or sneakers (No heels!) because the floor may be wet and slippery, and there will be drains in the floor covered with grids. Be on time to the designated meeting area, relax, and have fun.

A wine tour company should allow you to experience the local wines and get a little taste of its terrior, wines, and hospitality. Wine tour companies are in this business because they love sharing the winery adventure with others. Your job is to just sit back, sip and enjoy!

~ Joy