Wine Tour Travel Tips page
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Tips for planning your next wine tour

   Spring, summer, fall or winter, you can always plan a visit to a wine region of the Pacific Northwest.  All year round, there is plenty to do.  You could plan a trip to any of the many official AVAs (appellations), choose from hundreds of wineries, dine with pleasure, and rest in comfort within Pacific Northwest wine country in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

      Taking even a first step to make a wine-touring plan of your own can create a sense of adventure and excitement that is a thrill, but the same thrill can sew the seeds of a disappointing holiday.  Excitement can lead to unrealistic itineraries, loaded with opportunities for frustration and conflict, especially if you are not traveling alone. 

     Be sure to balance your enthusiasm with a strong dose of realism as you use Wines Northwest's wine-country tour guide to plan your trip.  Use our wine region maps to calculate distances, routes and drive times for your daily tours.  Select your lodging and dining choices according to their proximity to your last tour location of the day, or base yourself centrally. 

     Chances are, any of us who have visited a wine region or two can testify to the potential dangers of over-enthusiastic tour planning.  You couldn't make it to the last winery you had planned, and that special appointment you made for a tasting, will not be renewed.  Or maybe your arrive at your lodging facility after dark, four hours later than planned, your room has been given to someone else, and no-vacancy signs hang from all other nearby lodging prospects. 

     Maybe it's inevitable... planning too much your first few trips into wine country.   Maybe it's like the first time you prepare a  full dinner; you plan an extravagant menu and find it's a lot harder than you thought to have everything done, hot and on the table at the time you planned.  Your first few trips into wine country present similar challenges... making sure your trip itinerary results in a relaxing and memorable experience.

       Here are a few tips and some information you may find helpful as you develop your own wine-country tour.

Things to Consider While Planning

  • Think about what kinds of wineries you want to visit -- small? large? destination wineries? all of your favorites? some of those with winery tours? those with picnic spots and terrific views? Wineries with gift shops and tasting rooms? 

  • What time of the year would you enjoy touring the most; consider winter and early spring for avoiding crowds and improving your chances of talking with the winemakers; fall for the hustle and bustle of the harvest and crush season. If you want to be in wine country at some specific part of the wine-growing cycle, take a look at our Wine-Growing Schedule for basic information.  Check our Produce Ripening Calendar for timing your visit to the fruits of your choice.

  • Starting your planning session with maps is a great way to "virtually" tour a region and set the geographic stage for your visit.  Review our wine-region maps to start developing your itinerary.

  • If space allows, travel with one or two ice chests in your vehicle to protect your newly purchased wines from fluctuations in day and night temperatures common in semi-arid regions.

  • If you plan more than a daytrip to wine country, browse our wine-country  lodging suggestions and choose one that is central to the wineries you plan to visit, or one near the last winery you plan to visit on any given day.  As you explore any of the wine region sections of WinesNorthwest.com, watch for region-sensitive Lodging and Dining links in the left margin of each wine region page.  These links will take you to maps and lists of nearby suggested facilities.  Be sure to make your reservations early during peak seasons.

  • Choose a convenient dining facility or picnic area at a winery for a mid-day, restful lunch break or for your end-of-the-day meal.  It's fun to include one of your morning wine purchases with your meal (corking fees may apply at restaurants) or your picnic. Check our dining-suggestions maps and lists of wine-friendly restaurants, organized by town or city within each Pacific Northwest wine region.

  • When dining out on your wine tour, consider "Ordering Backward."  Select a wine from the wine list first, maybe one from a winery you won't have time to visit, or one you have never tasted from a winery you like; or choose a wine you just can't resist.  After choosing your wine, review the restaurant's menu for a selection that will pair well with it.  Or ask the restaurant's staff what they suggest as a pair for the wine you select.

  • If you plan several days of wine country exploring, be sure to save an afternoon or two for visiting wineries you hear about along the way from local people, dining and lodging staff, and wine country travelers you meet. 

  • Plan time in the last part of your trip to visit local tasting rooms, wine shops and wine bars to taste and/or purchase wines from wineries you missed.  A visit to a good wine shop before leaving a wine region also gives you a chance to pick up more bottles of a wine you discovered on your trip and wish your had purchased more. 

Let us know about any other 
trip-planning ideas you find valuable. 
Please email them to us, and we'll share them with others.


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Copyright © 2003 - January, 2014 Susan R. O'Hara. All rights reserved.
Last revised:  01/07/2014