Wine tasting is so fun and trendy! The vineyards are beautiful, the weather is usually nice, and obviously, who doesn’t want to feel classy while drinking wine?! It’s actually really easy to plan a trip, so let’s get started!
The first thing you need to do, is pick a location! Where do you want to go? There are several different wine regions all over. There might even be one in your backyard! Being a Los Angeleno, I try to stick with somewhere not too far, something driving distance. Those of you from LA, you probably don’t know how central you are to so many different wine countries. Within a three hour driving range you have about 10 different regions you can go tasting in, from Malibu Coast, a local area, to Paso Robles in central California! Here are some of my favorite wine regions that are not too far from home:
Malibu Coast, Malibu, California
Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County, California
Temecula Valley, Inland Empire, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California
Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, California
Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, California
Just this past week I took a day trip to Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, AND Santa Rita Hills!
The next thing you need to do is pick out what you would like to taste. Certain areas are best at growing different types of grapes. What do you prefer? Burgundy? Bordeaux? Provence? Rioja? Tuscany?
Luckily, many of these wine styles can be found at several wineries all over. But if you’re looking for estate wines, depending upon climate, certain rapes grow better in certain areas. For example, Santa Ynez Valley is one of the top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay growing regions in the central valley.
Once you’ve decided what kinds of styles you are interested, I would recommend googling something like “Wineries in Santa Ynez that make Pinot Noir.” Luckily, Santa Barbara County has a delightful website filled with lots of information on the different wineries in the area. www.santabarbaracounty.com
When you look at these wineries, pick whichever ones you think sound the most intriguing. These wineries all have websites where they will let you know tasting room hours, tasting prices, tour options, reservation options, and the location of the winery. Sometimes the tasting rooms aren’t exactly on the vineyards, but are rather in areas more localized so more people can try the wines. Make sure to check on your maps where the wineries are to determine if they might be in a shopping center or on the vineyard.
Additionally, I always recommend pacing yourself. Most wineries open around 11am and close at 5pm. It’s best to choose 3 wineries to go to in one day. You don’t want to be too rushed. Give yourself an hour at each winery, and an hour and a half at the winery at which you wish to enjoy your lunch.
When you’ve determined which wineries you wish to go to, and have either set up reservations or determined that the tasting room is open to the public, you’re just about to ready to go!
A lot of these wineries, especially those on the estates, have picnic areas so that you can enjoy the view, bring a lunch, and sip on their wine. I love to prepare some snacks and sandwiches for the day to enjoy at the picnic sights! Sometimes, I’ll bring out a whole cheese board!
Most tasting flights range from $10 to $50. A flight is usually 4 to 6 wines that are showcased at the tasting room for you to try. You just walk on up to the bar, show your ID, and ask them to see the flight menus. Some wineries have 1 flight, others have several to choose from. So take a look when you get there! The flights change every few weeks so they won’t have it available for you to peek at on the website. If you want to know which wines are notably the best, check out their website or famous wine websites like winespectator.com or wineenthusiast.com. I even love to check out Vivino; an app I like to think of as the Yelp for wine.
This is how I usually plan my wine tasting trips, but it is important to remember that there are other options for tasting trails. Some travel groups provide an opportunity for you to purchase their travel packages where they drive you to different wineries with other people on a wine country tour. These are great options if you’re in it for the experience, and you do not wish to drive. They usually range around $50-$100 a person.
If you do drive, please remember to be responsible. Tasting is an opportunity for you to learn about the wineries around you, so if you drink too much, you won’t be able to taste all of the differences. You don’t have to try everything, but ask your wine bartender about the winery and the wines to find what you might like best! They’re trying to get you to enjoy the product and your time there. They’re always very nice and helpful! And if you like the wine, buy a bottle and bring it home!
For more questions, you can always reach out to me via the contact us page!