How to Plan the Perfect Wine Tour

There's no better way to spend a vacation than to plan a wine tour. Just like any vacation, the best wine tours require making some advanced preparations. Don't worry, though. Planning a wine tour can be fun instead of frustrating. Just follow the step-by-step instructions below to make sure everything goes smoothly from start to finish.

How to Plan the Perfect Wine Tour
[image: pexels by brian parker]

Step One: Choose What Region to Visit

Not everyone can afford to plan an international trip to Italy or France just to visit wineries. The good news is, Americans don't have to go abroad to sample some of the finest wines. They can plan a trip closer to home and still get all the benefits of spending quality time with family or friends trying new wines and learning more about the craft.

North Carolina is home to some of the best wineries around, so it's a great destination for East Coast residents. Visit to see what to expect in terms of variety and consider buying a few bottles of locally fermented wines with friends to get everyone excited for the trip.

[image: pexels by natalie]

Step Two: Pick the Right Time of Year

There's no wrong time of the year to plan a wine tour. That said, the season makes a big difference in terms of what to expect. Some wineries cut back their operations in the winter, while others remain open year-round. The busiest seasons in most regions are summer and fall, but not everyone likes to plan tours for the vacation season.

Consider everyone's needs. If participants are intent on avoiding cold weather, aim for summer. People who prefer more space and privacy might be better off planning their trips for the off-season and just investing some extra time into exploring which wineries stay open year-round. In terms of excitement and education, fall is a great time to book a wine tour since that's when the harvest season is in full swing.

Step Three: Choose Which Wineries to Visit

Every winery is a little different. Some offer only tastings, while others also allow visitors to tour the facilities. Boutique wineries tend to be family-run and offer a warm, welcoming atmosphere, while larger wineries are more likely to carry internationally known varieties. Just keep in mind that large, internationally known wineries are also less likely to provide an exceptional guest experience.

As a general rule, it's best to visit no more than two to three wineries per day. The idea is to take a relaxing vacation and appreciate every unique experience, not to pack as much as possible into a long weekend.

Step Four: Book in Advance

Some local wineries have limited availability, especially during the tourist season. There's nothing worse than buying plane tickets and booking hotel rooms, then arriving on the scene to find that there's nothing to do. Don't put off making reservations until the last minute or rely on walk-in availability, especially for large groups.

Try to make reservations for wineries in the same area for the same day. It's fine to visit multiple regions on a long trip, but no one wants to spend the majority of his or her vacation in a rental car. It's also best to schedule visits to popular wineries for earlier in the day since there will be fewer people and the staff will be more attentive.

Step Five: Make Additional Reservations

Once trip planners have a good idea of when the tour will take place, what wineries participants will visit, and how far apart they are, it's time to consider other accommodations for guests. Look for hotels, bed and breakfasts, or apartment rentals that are within a reasonable drive and make sure to take the group size and all participants' budgets into account. It's usually best to make reservations for everyone at the same facilities to cut back on transportation issues.

Since everyone will be drinking, it's important to either assign designated drivers for each trip or hire a professional driver. Large groups can hire a chauffeured private van for a reasonable price, which takes the onus for ensuring passenger safety off of individual participants.

Step Six: Investigate Other Activities

While the primary purpose of a wine tour is to visit vineyards and tasting rooms, it's also wise to leave some room in the schedule for other activities. Look into award-winning restaurants, local tourist attractions, shopping centers, or even group tours. Saving time aside for engaging in these fun, traditional vacation activities can prevent things from feeling monotonous. It's also perfectly fine to plan some group activities but give individuals or couples plenty of time to explore on their own outside of those planned events.

Step Seven: Prepare to Enjoy the Trip of a Lifetime

Taking the time to prepare for the trip in advance will reduce everyone's stress and ensure that each person attending the wine tastings or vineyard tours will have what he or she needs to make the most of the vacation. Tour organizers might want to help participants prepare by providing information about tasting room etiquette or the local area.

Make sure to pack for the season, and leave plenty of room in the suitcase for souvenirs. Vineyards will usually pack and ship visitors' favorite bottles, so there's no need to worry about transporting wine purchased at the vineyards back home.

The best part about planning and executing a wine tour is the connections it fosters between friends, couples, or family members. Bring a camera and prepare to capture memories that will last a lifetime.

There's no need to travel abroad to sample some of the best wines in the world. There are plenty of wonderful, unique wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms almost everywhere in the United States. Planning a wine tour is one of the best ways to spend a vacation with friends or family, but only if the person responsible for making reservations is attentive to everyone's needs and does a good job of putting together all the pieces. Following the steps listed above makes it easier for trip planners to make sure all their bases are covered.

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