A trip to the wine country to visit wineries and do wine tasting is a great adventure. But to get the most from your trip, planning is imperative.
Before you head out, do some research. The wine country is full of wineries that all have websites and social media ready for you. And, usually the wine region, or in the U.S., the AVA (American Viticultural Area), will also have on-line resources. And maps are a great place to start.
When you are going wine tasting, you will want to focus on a particular area or wine style. So, just planning a wine tasting trip to Sonoma isn't specific enough. You'll want to focus in on one region each day, such as Alexander Valley. Once you find on-line resources for the particular region, ensure that you learn what wines the region is best known for producing. Then, find a winery map and look at the wineries in the area. Even with an AVA such as Alexander Valley, there are dozens of wineries. So, to narrow it down, see if there are any wineries you recognize. It's always fun to visit a winery where you already know something about their wines. Then, pick two or three more in the vicinity. You'll find that visiting 3-4 wineries can fill your day.
Once you narrow it down to a handful of wineries that you'd like to visit, check out their websites for the days and hours that they are open. Wineries tend to open no earlier than 10 am and generally close by 5 pm. And, many may only be open for a limited number of days, usually centered on the weekend.
Then look to see if reservations are required. Usually, if you have a group of six or more, a reservation will be required. Also, check to see what amenities the winery offers. See if they offer tours, food service, or have picnic grounds. And, before you go, see if the winery lists their prices for wine tasting.
Doing a bit of prep work will really pay off before getting to wine country. Next time we'll address final preps and the items to take with you to the wineries. Cheers!