So far this year, 2004 has been great for visiting local wineries. A relatively mild winter, followed by a warm spring, has made for many, ideal winery-touring-weather days.
With Oregon wineries gearing up for a busy summer touring schedule, now is the perfect time to hop in the car and visit a few of your favorites ahead of the crowds. Most wineries have geared up their schedules, and are open weekdays and weekends alike.
Should you decide to visit wineries, here are a few things to consider:
* Find and assign a designated driver. All those small tastes of wine can add up fast, especially if you plan on visiting 2-3 or even more wineries in a single afternoon. Play it safe, and get someone to drive your party around. You will enjoy the day all the more, knowing you have a sober mind behind the wheel.
* Call ahead. Even if you know the winery is going to be open, consider putting in a short call just to be sure there isn't a special event planned for the timeslot when you will be visiting.
* When you call, also inquire if picnicking is permitted. There's nothing better than a nice glass of dry Riesling, while enjoying a home-packed picnic basket, and taking in the sweeping view of Oregon's wine country.
* This is the time of year when Oregon wineries will begin hosting special events, such as evening winemakers dinners, private tastings, and even hired bands. If you want to make more than just an afternoon outing of this experience, get in touch with some of the wineries and see what is on the horizon for their events calendar!
* Wine releases from the 2003 harvest are soon to follow. Over Memorial Day weekend, most Oregon wineries will host a special opening, during which time they will begin releasing the latest vintage of great wines. Some wines will require additional aging, and so this will truly be a sneak preview. You'll get to taste many of the new wines, but may need to purchase futures as the final releases may not be ready until mid-summer.
* When you arrive at the winery, take a moment to absorb the fantastic sprintime weather, the blossoming trees and flowers, and reward yourself for choosing to live in or near the Oregon's incredible wine country. Bring a long a camera, snap a few shots, and record your time for some great memories.
* As you enter the tasting room, don't be afraid to ask questions of the tasting room staff. They are there to help educate you about the wines, including the different varietals, how to taste, what to look for in a good wine, and how to figure out what wines are best suited for your palate. Oregon's wineries are well-known for their hospitality of complete wine novices. It's all one big learning process, and what better place to start your wine journey, than right at the source?
As we move into late spring, and welcome in the early summer months, look for many great wine touring opportunities to follow. We invite your feedback, questions, and comments about Oregon's wineries, and look forward to helping you plan your next wine adventure.