- Pick your date wisely. If you can, choose a weekday rather than a weekend date. Things tend to be quieter and you get better service on average. But don’t worry if you can’t, we will still be able to manage an enjoyable day. And don’t worry about the weather or the time of year. Every day is beautiful in wine country. Also, if you can avoid the months of July and August, you’ll probably get better one-on-one service. July and August are by far the busiest months because people think it rains here the rest of the year – but I can tell you from experience – the best times to visit are the off-season. April and October are particularly lovely but even January/February is fantastic.
- Prepare for your tour. This begins the night before. Don’t overdo it when you’re out having fun. 10:00 A.M. rolls around early, and a hangover can really put a damper on the fun. I’ve seen it all too many times!
- Pad your belly and hydrate. Have a medium-light breakfast (don’t put yourself in a food coma!) but be sure to include some protein so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. Eat small portions and drink water throughout the day.
- Ask lots of questions! Don’t be shy, the old “there are no dumb questions” rule applies here. Industry folks will tell you – the silent types are more dreaded than the chatty ones. And beyond the obvious fact that you’ll learn more this way, keep in mind: People who show a particular interest in someone’s story and product will often get special attention and treatment.
- Don’t be a tight wad. I know, that’s easy for me to say when it’s not my money, but here’s the thing: People will sometimes labor over the difference of $10 or $20 when given the option of an “elevated” tasting experience. You’ve come this far and made all this effort for your one day in the Willamette Valley. Go for the good stuff! That’s why you’re here! Get the reserve flight. Pay for the extra pour. If you see a wine you want to taste that’s not on the flight, buy a bottle of it and open it up! This is your chance to make some memories, right!?!?
- Talk about the wine. Even if it’s not usually your style, pretend you’re a critic for the day. Smell it, taste it, slurp it around in your mouth. Describe what you experience. What did the smell remind you of? Cherries? Cinnamon? Your grandmother’s perfume? How did it taste? How did it feel in your mouth? Have fun with it! The more you elucidate on what you are experiencing, the better you will get at describing what you like. You’ll learn about the wine, about yourself, and you’ll spark conversation. Insider secret: the winery staff will pay extra attention to people who pay extra attention to the wine.
- Buy the Wine! Remember, most of the wines you taste on these tours are only available at the wineries we visit. You’re not going to find these rare, boutique wines on the shelf at Costco or Trader Joe’s. And shipping a case of wine home only adds about $5 – $7 per bottle to your total cost. As a bonus, the wineries will waive your tasting fee if you buy enough wine. Then, you’ll have mementos of your trip you can share with friends back home. A small price to pay to extend the essence of your vacation! If you need help figuring out how to get your wine home, that’s one of our specialties, and we’ll be happy to help!
- Don’t worry about a thing. Leave it all up to us. I know it can be hard to release control of your big day to a stranger, but just remember – we’ve been doing this a long time. We are going to be friends by the end of the day and I want you to think of us as your friend who knows a lot about the Willamette Valley and really wants to show you around for one perfect day. Truly, the more you relax and release control, the better tour we can give, naturally. I’ve seen it go both ways hundreds of times.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you made it this far, you are already well on your way to wine touring like a pro.
We are so excited to have you and look forward to hosting you!