On average, Napa Valley welcomes upwards of 3.8 million visitors each year. Wine and travel lovers alike can’t help but flock to see the rolling rows of vines and grapes and the wineries that transform them into delicious ambrosia. The opportunity to take wine-tasting tours in California to sample award-winning wine from gorgeous vineyards is impossible to resist.
With hundreds of wineries scattered throughout the Golden State, it can be hard to decide which California wine tasting best suits your needs. To make sure your experience is as enjoyable as possible, our wine-tasting experts curated five tips for selecting the best tours in California. Whether you’re looking for an intimate experience with just a few friends or a larger group tour, keep reading to plan the perfect California wine-tasting experience for your next trip.
1. Understand Your Options for Wine Tasting Tours
Every well-planned vacation begins with research. Start by using a search engine to explore different California wineries. Location specificity helps plan wine-tasting tours, even within wine country.
For example, if you are staying in San Luis Obispo County, consider searching for a Paso Robles winery. You can get even more specific and search by city, such as searching for Tin City wineries. The point is to make your search location specific, so your wine tour isn’t more driving than it is touring.
Another way to understand your options for wine-tasting tours is to look for quality. California is home to many reputable bloggers passionate about passing their opinions on the top wineries in Paso Robles to tourists. There are a few ideal ways to research a winery’s quality, one of our favorites being perusing top ten lists from local guides.
Finally, if the research path is out of your wheelhouse, consider scheduling a guided Paso Robles winery tour. You’ll get an expert’s perspective on local vineyards, winemakers, and even restaurants where you can sample delicious dishes alongside local wines.
2. Understand the Flavors of Different Regions
Knowing the flavor profiles of each region may help you narrow down your choices to match your taste. For example, if you enjoy bold red wines, consider taking a tour of Northern California wineries like Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Mendocino County. These regions produce classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel wines known for their big body and rich tannins.
In the Central Coast region, you can find bold reds like Syrahs and Petite Sirahs in places like Paso Robles wineries or Tin City wineries.
If you prefer white wines, consider heading to cooler climates like the Carneros area in the north or the San Luis Obispo region in the south. You will find crisp and light Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, and Pinot Grigios that pair well with seafood or salads.
For a unique experience, look for small and boutique wineries in these areas and sign up for wine clubs to get exclusive access to special tasting events. No matter what type of wine you prefer, there is sure to be a wine-tasting tour in California to suit your tastes.
3. California Wine Tour and Transportation Timing
Before your wine-tasting tour begins, discuss with your group how long they wish to stay at each winery. Not only is the amount of time spent in each winery necessary, but so is transportation time between wineries.
It’s essential to plan for transportation and factor that into your day so that the day can be full without being stressful. Try to avoid scheduling two stops too close together. That can have your party feeling rushed from one place to another, not allowing them the chance to enjoy the wine-tasting tour.
If you’re planning on visiting a Paso Robles winery during the day, remember to leave time for exploring other activities or joining a wine club. Proper timing and planning make your wine-tasting tour in California enjoyable and memorable.
4. Drink Water and Eat Plenty of Food
When going on a wine-tasting tour in California, you and your party must stay hydrated and well-fed. You do not want anyone passing out from heat exhaustion or inebriation during the tour.
The California heat can cause dehydration, so it is important to remember to drink plenty of water even if you are not drinking wine. Packing drink mixes like liquid electrolytes can help stave off dehydration.
Eating bread or crackers before, during, and after the tasting will help you avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Therefore, you can avoid falling ill or feeling too intoxicated.
Eating noshes throughout the day helps replenish nutrients and stave off potential hangovers that can impede the rest of your vacation.
5. See, Sniff, Sip, and Spit
To experience the best California wine-tasting tours, you must learn the proper method of tasting wine. By understanding the principles of “See, Sniff, Sip, and Spit,” you can get the most out of your California wine-tasting tour.
The color of the wine can tell you about its flavor. If the rim of your red wine pour is faded orange or brown, you may conclude that it’s an aged wine. Vivid purple colors indicate younger wines.
Aged white wines with deep colors may look that way from aging in oak barrels. The viscosity of both red and white wines may indicate higher alcohol levels or sweetness.
When smelling the wine, take your time. Swirl the glass and then breathe in with an open mouth. As you do this, consider the flavor profile and look for the five tastes – bitter, sweet, salt, acid, and umami.
Smell and taste are harmonious senses. After you smell your pour, swirl the glass, take a sip, and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds to assess its characteristics.
As you’re tasting, consider acidity, sweetness, and tannins. If the wine has a good balance, its components will all work together.
Full-bodied wines tend to come from warmer climates. Tannins are from grape skins, seeds, and stalks and can tell you a lot about the wine.
Conversely, sweetness might signify that the wine comes from late-harvest grapes, grapes affected by noble rot, or fortified. Particular grapes, like Negromaro and Sangiovese, have a distinct bitter note.
Finally, you may drink the wine if you wish. However, drinking every wine can lead to intoxication, which may dampen your tour experience. Polite spitting is encouraged throughout your wine tour experience!
Patio Tasting at a Paso Robles Winery
Levo Wine is among Paso Robles’s most exquisite wine-tasting tours. Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast, we offer wine tastings on our patio overlooking the vineyards. You can enjoy the different varietals and flavors of wine while taking in scenic views.
Levo Wine also offers wine club membership options that allow you to buy wine online if you’re looking for year-round tasting possibilities. Our signature series gives you access to a rotating selection of wines from the best vineyards in the area.
Explore our wine club packages today to enjoy quality wine sent to your doorstep!