Fall is the best time to tour local wineries. All over the NC, more wineries than ever are open and eager for you to drop by. Many of them plan special events during the fall and are heavily promoting their wine trails.
Here are some tips on how to make your winery tour a successful one.
- Get together a group of friends or colleagues. Don’t invite people you don’t know well because you want to create an easy going atmosphere. Arrange for a central pick up location; picking up everybody at their house will take time and will leave you less time to tour wineries. If you arrange to meet at your house, be prepared that after the tour people will be coming back to your house expecting further entertainment.
- Hire a car. Chances are you will taste more wine than you expected to — those little tastes add up. Not only that, but if you’re not used to drinking wine early in the day (see below), it could catch up with you fast. Wineries are spread out, so you would not want to worry about navigating. Also hired vehicles can set as many as 20 people.
- Do you research and identify which wineries you want to visit. Some wineries are more established with well-manicured grounds and state of the art facilities, while others are new with a make shift tasting room to offer. Remember, it is not just about the wine.
- Do not take the kids. Tasting rooms can be boring for children and you will be constantly distracted.
- Go early, especially on weekends. The thing that’s the most fun about a winery visit is chatting with the people behind the bar, who are often the owners or winemakers, especially at smaller wineries. They won’t have time to talk with you if it’s busy.
- Be polite. Yes, this seems obvious, but we’ve visited hundreds of tasting rooms over more than 30 years and we’re always amazed how rude people can be. In a smaller winery, you are likely to be in part of someone’s home and possibly talking to the owner. Be nice, and show them the respect they deserve.
- Try all the wines that vineyard has to offer. Even if you think you only like dry wines, you should try some that are sweet, and vice versa. You never know you must just discover your new favorite wine.
- Ask questions. Don’t be shy. If you ask simple questions like “Does this look like it will be a good year?” or “What food goes best with this wine?” the person behind the counter will appreciate your interest.
- Remember that it’s a tasting room, not a bar. If you want to drink a big glass of wine, buy a bottle and have a picnic. And even if you are not driving, be very careful about how much you’re drinking. People who have had too much to drink ruin the tasting experience for everybody.
- Be careful how much you buy. It’s a nice gesture to buy a bottle or two, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to. Still, we tend to get carried away at wineries and buy more bottles than we intended. You’ll be amazed how quickly those bottles add up.
- Bring a picnic. Majority of the wineries have patios with table overlooking the grounds. Take a moment to relax, taste the wine and enjoy the scenery.