Wine Touring 101

bike riding + wine tasting

[trip style = wine tasting]

Wine tasting season is here! In North America, some key tasting states and provinces include: California, Washington, Oregon, BC and Ontario. To make the most of these unique wine-making regions, a tasting plan-of-attack will help you tour like an apprentice sommelier.  Here's how:


  • See a variety of wineries: small, med and big.  This will give you a well-rounded "taste" of wine-making.
  • Take time to talk to the Host/Vintner.  Learning from their passion seems to make the wine taste better.
  • Vary your experience.  At some wineries take the tour, at others talk at length to the host (if they are not too busy) and at others enjoy the grounds.
  • Savor the experience.  Don't just taste to taste, try to learn.  *Usually* the more you find out, the more appreciation you gain for that "zin."
  • Heed wine-tasting etiquette.
  • Bring cash for your tastings, most cost between $5-20/person. Note that most wineries allow you to share a tasting.
  • Consider alternate forms of transport: Limo, Bike, etc...
  • Choose your plan of attack - either be spontaneous or plan your journey.  This point is especially true if you only have an afternoon or a short 2-3 day tasting window.
  • Eat plenty of food, or bring some---like crackers---with you to eat in between.
  • Get recommendations from your hotel's concierge or neighboring wineries about others you'd enjoy.


  • Use wine tasting as an opportunity to drink 'for the sake of it.'
  • Only see one type of winery. Further to the tip above, touring different types---region, varietal, size, philosophy---provides an education that deepens your appreciation and understanding for the process of wine-making and drinking.
  • Drive after seeing multiple wineries and tasting multiple varietals.
  • Drink the 'wine' from the big barrels near the tasting bars: that's wine and spit.
  • Wear white clothing.  Due to over-aggressive swirling, I know someone whose pinot noir 'taste' went on their white t-shirt rather than into their mouth.
  • Swirl rose or bubbly.

[all pictures my own, taken in sonoma]