With superb dining options, plenty of cellar doors to explore, and loads of different wine varieties to sample, there are plenty of reasons to pack your bag for a wine tasting holiday. Raise your glass to a wonderful wine tasting weekend away with these tips for a great getaway.
1. Variety is the spice of life
Visit a combination of large and small wineries when you’re out tasting. Many of the smaller wineries are family owned and offer a charming and very personal wine tasting experience. It’s not unusual for the winemaker themselves to take you through their range at the cellar door. While larger wineries are usually more commercial, the tasting experience is just as enjoyable plus there are usually more wines to sample.
2. Wine and dine in the one spot
Larger wineries often have restaurants with superb views. It’s a lovely to spot to enjoy the region’s cuisine with a glass of something from the vineyard outside. However, it pays to plan ahead. Winery restaurants are extremely popular and walk-ins are often turned away so book a table if there is somewhere in particular that you would like to dine. Don’t miss the superb winery restaurants in the Cape Winelands in South Africa.
3. Make a call or two
Some cellar doors are by appointment only, especially the smaller ones, and opening hours may change seasonally. If you are keen to visit a particular winery it is always a good idea to call ahead to confirm availability. Even if you don’t need an appointment, a tip off for the best time to avoid large groups is always handy. If you’re hoping to chat with winemakers, you may not want to visit during vintage as they’ll be busy harvesting and making wine.
4. Wine tasting with kids
Visiting a wine region with kids is more fun than you might think. Bring a soccer ball or frisbee for a play break between tastings or hire bikes and explore a wine region with cellars doors that you can get to cycling along country roads. You shouldn’t have far to go to enjoy a chilled glass of chardonnay or a refreshing cold drink and a snack in kid friendly wine regions like Martinborough in New Zealand. The promise of a trip to a non-wine related attractions like a fudge shop or ice cream store for the kids if they’re patient while you’re tasting works wonders.
5. Stay safe on the road
Book a private or group wine tour or agree on who is going to be the designated driver in advance. One day on and one day off works well for weekend wine getaways. The person who isn’t driving gets to choose the wineries. Even if you aren’t driving, don’t plan too many tastings in the one day. Allowing one to two hours at each cellar door plus travel time between each location is ideal. It’s more enjoyable to sample slowly than get sozzled.
6. Keep an open mind
Trying wine varieties you may not have encountered before or perhaps didn’t enjoy the last the time you had them is also worth doing. There’s a big difference between a well-crafted modern rose and the pink sugar pop of the 90s. Who knows, you could be surprised. And if you don’t like a wine? A tactful “this one’s probably not for me” and a request for something to tip the remainder of your glass into is fine.
7. Where to stay
If you would like to indulge with a wine matched dinner, consider staying at a winery which also offers accommodation. Staying on site means there is no need to drive or arrange a late night taxi which can sometimes be difficult in small regional areas. Take comfortable shoes and a warm jacket and enjoy a stroll after dinner where it’s just you, the vines and the stars.
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