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How to Enjoy a Wine Tour

How to Enjoy a Wine Tour

When you decide to go wine-tasting, it's easy enough to just grab your significant other, a couple friends, hop in the designated driver's car, and go! You'll head out, stop at a couple favorite vineyards, maybe be adventurous and hit another new one on the way.

Oops, the first one is closed for a private event. And the second one has a bachelorette party running around asking everyone if they wear boxers or briefs and screaming "Woooo!" every few seconds. The last one closes in twenty minutes... Think we can make it? And I haven't eaten all day, where's the closest fast food place? We can make it there in five minutes, right? Oh wait, this is a single lane highway and everyone's heading home now, there's no way we can get that last stop in.

I've dealt with that scenario (and other logistics issues) more times than necessary. It doesn't seem like going on a wine tour should take that much forethought and planning, right? Now I'm well-versed in planning out a wine tour, whether it's for me and my boyfriend or me and twenty of my closest friends on a charter bus, but it takes some practice in order to have the best time on your day of wine tasting.

First, call every winery you plan to visit ahead of time! Let them know how many people you will have in your party, and ask if there's anything special going on that particular day. I try to call a week ahead of time if I'm going with a group of four or fewer, but I'll call a month ahead to schedule a tasting for a group larger than that. Not all tasting rooms can accommodate a group of more than eight or ten people, and they need to know if a big group is coming so they can have adequate staff, samples, and seating for the group. Nothing will turn the tasting room staff against you faster than showing up with a large group unannounced. The day of your trip, call the tasting room again if anything has changed--number of guests or time you will arrive, in particular--so they have time to properly accommodate your party.

It's also a good idea to inquire if there are any special tours or experiences you should take advantage of when at the winery. Is there a barrel tasting or blend-your-own-wine workshop? What about a tour of the vineyards, facility, or wine caves? Will you be able to meet the wine maker? It's not necessary at every winery, but it's an easy way to break up the tastings and make the stop special.

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To ask or not to ask

Recently, a "mystery" shopper was set loose upon a Bay Area wine country with $1200.00 to spend on wine from the various winery tasting rooms. The shopper could only buy wine if they were asked by the tasting room staff to purchase.  After a weekend of many winery tasting rooms only $200.00 of $1200.00 was spent.Ask for the order

Do you expect to purchase wine at each of the winery tasting rooms that you visit? Do you expect to be asked to purchase wine or would that turn you off? The art of the "ask" seems to me to be essential for a successful tasting room. Regardless of all the wine tasting etiquette rules, which we list later in another article, the tasting room is the primary direct-to-wine consumer outlet.Buy the case

The tasting room supplies the wine lover and adventurer a place to experience the winery's wines, hospitality and story.  And who doesn't love a good story.  Wine lovers use review sites to share their experiences and to read about the experiences of others. Thus, the tasting room becomes the single most important sales and marketing direct-to-wine lover opportunity that a winery possesses.  I appreciate it when the hospitality staff invites me to purchase or to join their wine club. And yet in my experience I am surprised how many winery tasting room staff fail to not only ask me to purchase their wine but fail to even mention their wine club. win win

I understand the reluctance of some people to want to avoid being pushy, however I would encourage winery owners to attempt to measure their success in selling wine to their guests. Wine lovers come to the tasting room for the experience and to purchase wine because of the relationship they form with the winery.  When a guest visits a winery they are looking for wine to purchase. The question is will they purchase from your tasting room or the winery down the road? And in my opinion, if you and the tasting room staff have entertained your guests, simply ask for the wine order, and you will in most cases obtain a sale.  A sale in your tasting room is a win-win for you and the guest.
 

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Building a Wine-Bar directory that works!

wine bars offer wide selectionThe wine-bar, also known as a Bodega, Vinothek, Enoteca or Oenoheque offers unique experiences to the wine lover. Oenophiles (wine lovers) appreciate a venue that caters to those who enjoy wines and socialization. There are some wine-bars that also offer gourmet beers. The wine-bar experience exhalts the passion and intellectual stimulation associated with wine. The cozy and charming atmosphere of a wine-bar offers a more pleasant and laid-back alternative to the bar scene. The wine-bar lends itself to a good socializing environment with a less crowded feel and more intimate appeal than the average bar lounge.  In addition to these advantages, many wine-bars feature wine education and the ability to purchase bottles and cases of wine on "a taste before you buy basis." Wine-bars reduce or eliminate the sense of intimidation that many people feel when confronted with a restaurant wine list while trying to order the best wine for their dining experience suited to their budget. Need to plan a party with great wine pairings? Most wine-bars offer resources to assist you.

What is the difference between a wine-bar and a restaurant? Under Dog Wine Bar Wine Preservation

The Food. Many wine-bars offer small plates and other delicacies. Wine-bars do not offer a full menu kitchen, nor a full bar menu. Wine-bars offer a much larger selection of wines BTG (by the glass) or BTT (by the taste) then traditional restaurants. The access to a wide variety of wines from many different wine regions and wineries at a reasonable cost provides a unique opportunity to learn and enjoy the subtle differences and nuances of various wines and the wines' corresponding varietals. 

Wine-bars in the United States are growing rapidly in popularity. The challenge is finding them easily. So far, I have not found a wine-bar directory that works.  Seeing a real need, SignatureWines.com decided to build one for us. If you have a wine-bar that is not listed here at SignatureWines.com please feel free to add the venue to our wine-bar directory. Together our wine lover's community can enjoy the first functional wine-bar directory.  Uncorked in Squaw Valley, CA

I believe a wine-bar directory is important because wine-bars offer a much different social and culinary experience to the oenophile. Wine-bars attract as a general rule gregarious friendly people that appreciate discovering new wines and wine experiences.  Making new friends while enjoying the fellowship of established friendships over a glass or flight of wines builds a better community. Over wine, conversation flows easily. Wine-bars furnish a very enjoyable way of meeting new people. So raise your glass to the wine-bar and make sure to either list or review your favorite wine-bar here at Signaturewines.com.

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