So, you want to go wine tasting but you don’t want to drive. You have a few options.
You can plan a tour yourself, starting with appointing a friend or family member to be the designated driver. This is a great way to taste if you want to experience new wineries and aren’t looking for anything specific. You can make your own schedule and take as much or as little time at each winery as you like. The downside is that the wineries might be crowded so you may not receive as much attention as you like. You might also miss information about the area and the wine history during the drive between wineries. It won’t be an inexpensive day either since you will have to pay tasting fees that usually run around $10/person. Throw in gas and lunch and it adds up quickly.
Another option: hire a limo company to take you and your group around. This is a great option if you want to ride in comfort with several people. Depending on the size of the limo it isn’t that expensive to go on a local tour ($400-$500 for a group of 6 for a 5 hour tour). That usually doesn’t include tasting fees, lunch and often times gas. You can still run into crowds and your driver may or may not be knowledgeable about wine.
A third option: hire a winery tour company. The benefits: your guide will be knowledgeable about the wine region, be able to answer most of your questions about wine and be able to cater the tasting to what you want. Companies can set up private tastings, some will even arrange time with winemakers or owners. Some companies cover tasting fees and lunch, others do not. When you’re researching you want to ask about fees in considering the total cost. Most companies charge $100-200 per person. Remember, most places charge $10/person for a standard tasting.
I own a winery tour business called Oregon Vine2Wine Tours. We charge $300 for a couple and $125 per person on top of that up to six people. (We only do groups up to six people to keep all tastings intimate and personal). All tasting fees and lunch are included in the price. We visit four wineries in one region. The Umpqua Valley near Roseburg is a good choice for big red lovers, while the Eola-Amity region near Salem is a great choice for Pinot Noir fans. We can also tour around Newberg in the Chehalem Mountains. Each winery arranges a private tasting, most of them involving an owner or a winemaker. We focus on terroir driven producers who make wines that show a sense of place. Most of these are small producers, many of them still relatively unknown to the general public. Going on a tour with us gives you the chance to meet owners and winemakers, letting them share their passion of wine with you. It is a fun and educational way to go wine tasting.
Wine tasting is fun no matter how you do it. Some people just want to go taste various wines and have a nice social experience. Other people want to learn about what they are tasting, a little wine history and meet owners or winemakers who can share their passion of wine. There is no right or wrong way to go tasting. You choose what’s best for you.