How to Survive your First Wine Tour without Getting Legless
You’d think that by the age of 34, and as an avid fan of a glass of vino or two (or four), that I’d have been on a fair few wine tours in my time. But last weekend’s tour of Rutherglen wineries was actually my first – and I made it out alive.
How to Survive your First Wine Tour
Going into this wine tour – which I did with friends for my birthday – I was a little apprehensive. Scared isn’t the word. Worried isn’t it either. But I was a little concerned that by the time I entered the second of the Rutherglen wineries, I’d have carrots in my fascinator and be stumbling toward a portaloo ala Kath and Kim; one shoe off and a few glasses of merlot on the way up.
With daytime drinking, I always find things can get out of hand before you know it. So I kept telling myself – and my partner Gavin – that pacing ourselves was a wise approach. Especially since the limo was picking us up for our first tasting at 10.30am. Yes, 10.30am! I’d barely finished my toast and it was time to…well, toast.
You also read that right; we were driven around in a limo. It was a hilarious turn of events for the four of us to be in an 11-person limo for a wine tour, but we left booking transportation ’til the last minute and a limousine was the only vehicle left. Honestly, I kinda loved the limo. It was like I was one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Probably Lisa Rinna, but without the restylane.
Here’s my tips on what to consider when going on a wine tour…
Going on a Wine Tour: How to do it Right
Plan your transportation early
Nobody wants to be the designated driver on a wine tour, so I highly recommend you book in some transportation early. There are a variety of options depending on the size of the group you’re going with, and they’ll collect you from wherever you’re staying and drop you back off.
Find accommodation close to the wineries
You want to be close to the wineries to maximise the amount you can see in a day. We got in six wineries in five hours, with a lunch squeezed in too. If you stay far away from the wineries, it’s going to cut into your sipping and sampling time, so consider that when you book your stay.
Have a lunch at one of the wineries booked in
We failed to do this, which left only one place available to take us for lunch on the day. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing. I’d do a search on which wineries have lunch facilities and secure a table well before the day of your tour. Ensure you eat a big lunch, because you need something to soak up all the wine you don’t realise you’re consuming.
Use the spittoon, even when you’re loving the vino
As a lover of a good drop (and even a pretty mediocre one), it pains me to have to tip wine out, but it’s essential that you do this throughout the day to avoid being that drunk person at 11am. If you have a few sips on a wine and like it, buy a bottle. If you’re not loving it, there’s no point drinking all of it.
Realise that every winery serves you differently
Some wineries are all over you, spend the time explaining it all and make you feel welcome. At others, it can feel a bit more like a production line. I found that the smaller wineries tended to spend more time with you explaining the background behind the wine, and inturn you felt more connected to the brand and wanted to buy from them.
You don’t have to buy wine at every winery, but it’s nice to
Prior to visiting any of the Rutherglen wineries, I was of the thinking that I was under no obligation to buy something at each winery. And don’t get me wrong, you’re not. But when you’re in a smaller boutique winery and someone’s just spent half an hour with you, talking about the history of the winery and pouring you free-flowing vino, it’s awkward to leave empty-handed. If you’re with a large group, it’s nice if one of you buys something – even if it’s just a bottle.
Rutherglen Wineries we visited: St Leonards, All Saints, Valhalla, Pfeiffer, Cofield, and Lake Moodemere.
Click here for a full list and to explore each one.
Have you been to the Rutherglen wineries, or others? I’d love to read your wine tour tips below (or horror stories). Were you tipsy at 10am or did you pace yourself? Drop a comment below and share!