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Wine Tasting Fun

My wife, Tamara, and I have enjoyed tour wine regions in California and, now, Oregon.  Living in the Willamette Valley makes it pretty easy to tour what we believe is the best wine region we have found yet.  There are over ___ hundred wineries in the Valley, most small in size but big in taste.  Pinot Noir is the king in this area.  Be prepared to pay a tasting fee of $10 to $20.  It wasn't always that way, but as winery tours and tasting grew in popularity, wineries found it necessary to charge for tastings to cover the cost of the wine and overhead of the tasting room or building, since some percentage of visitors are there simply to drink wine and not buy anything.  Typically, if you buy a few bottles of wine, your tasting fee will be applied to the purchase cost of the wine you are buying.Picture of tasting room at Methven Family Vineyards

Wherever you go to taste wine, have fun and don't be intimidated because it's your first time or you just aren't up on all the wine terminology...most of us aren't.  Turn your ignorance into an asset by asking questions.  Ask the same questions when visiting several wineries and you will get a better overall answer.  Check out when the winery is giving tours and take one occasionally when you go out tasting; assuming you are curious about how wine is made, there is a lot to learn and you might even get to barrel taste.

One of the best times we had tasting was when we rented a limo, invited two other couples and did a tasting tour of five of our favorite wineries.  The limo picked us up and dropped us off at our respective houses, to eliminate any driving on our part.  They also had plenty of room for storing wine purchases.  You can search online for "wine tasting tours" or "wine tours" and should get a number of options.  You might consider calling some of the wineries you want to visit and ask them for recommendations for limo/tour options.

We learned early on to bring water with me.  A couple hours into wine tasting can leave you a bit dehydrated which can dampen the pleasure of tasting.  Didn't bring any water with you, just ask the tasting room staff for some.  That reminds me, the staff in many tasting rooms are very pleasant and willing to share whatever knowledge they have.  Sometimes you will find the attitude of the staff less than friendly.  I have never understood why anyone who owns a winery would tolerate tasting room staff that are anything but friendly and helpful, but there out there.  Now days when we run into one of those situations, if there is an alternative nearby (and there usually is), we move on.  There are plenty of wineries in just about any viticultural region these days to put up with anything but a very pleasant experience.  By the way, we know from experience that most owners do care about the experience visitors have in the tasting rooms.  Typically, they just aren't aware and seem genuinely concerned about correcting the problem.