Winery and Vineyard visits – 10 Top Tips!
What’s the difference between a vineyard and a winery? Not a lot!
For winery, read vineyard and for vineyard, read winery. Essentially, to the average Joe, they are one and the same thing.
Technically, the vineyard is where the grapes are grown and harvested, and the winery is the area in which the grapes are then transformed into wine. Not every vineyard has the capability to convert its grapes into wine and the grape harvest is therefore collected and processed by an independent or cooperative winery.
A visit to a winery is usually an education in itself. Here are some useful tips to help you make the most of it:
- It is best, wherever possible, to book a winery visit in advance; they may not have the staffing capability to cope with visitors who turn up unannounced. If you are unable to book in advance due to uncertain travel arrangements, it’s best to phone ahead or check websites for details of opening hours and tour arrangements. These vary enormously, with seasonal variations and many wineries being closed to the public on Sundays. Also be aware that some charge a fee for tastings.
- If you’re travelling and tasting with teenagers ‘in tow’, it may be prudent to check what age limits apply. Should one of these little beauties be expecting a slurp and then get refused at the trough – well, you may as well pack up and go home!
- How about enjoying lunch at one of the wineries? It’s worth doing your homework because it doesn’t get much better than savouring a leisurely lunch, in idyllic surroundings, experiencing a selection of the house wines which are served at their optimum temperatures.
- When visiting wineries, go easy on the perfumes, colognes, eau de toilettes and lipsticks. Whilst no doubt making you irresistable to all those present they do, nonetheless, interfere with the taste and aromas of the wines.
- When tasting a selection of wines, the following is the best sequence in which to try them; start with whites and end with reds. However, if your visit includes the opportunity to try some particularly sweet or dessert wines, always leave these until the end. This is because when a dry wine is tasted after a sweet wine, it almost invariably tastes bitter.
- Bread or crackers are often provided in tasting rooms. These serve to freshen the palate in between wines and ensure that you can appreciate each wine, on an individual basis.
- To spit or not to spit? Well... that depends on how far you’re standing from the spittoon! Not really – it is very much a personal choice. Those that spit out the wines will usually be the more serious wine drinkers – but are they having as much fun?
- Wines purchased on-site usually represent excellent value for money. However, do not feel obliged to buy wines at the end of a visit (particularly when you have paid a tasting fee). Having said that, we live in a real world, and it can be a bit awkward if you’re virtually the only people there. A judicious purchase at the lower end of the price spectrum usually provides a welcome ice-breaker in these situations!
- If you’re not careful, the effects of tasting have a habit of sneaking up on you. A designated driver is the best move, allowing the others to relax and enjoy. If touring on a bicycle, strap the helmet on extra tight!
- If you are intending to purchase wines, it’s useful to take a cooler box to store them in, particularly during the hotter months. Extremes of temperature will harm the quality of the wine.
Visiting wineries is really good fun. However, to maximise the experience, it helps to do a bit of preparation. The Secrets of Wine eBook provides the opportunity to gain a thorough appreciation of how the winery creates its wines, from grape to glass. It is designed in succinct, ‘easy-to-read’ sections and takes around 3 hours to complete. Having this knowledge will ensure that you, and anyone else in your party, will gain far greater interest and pleasure from a visit.
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