Chapter 4: Visiting Oregon Wineries

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Will it cost anything to participate in a wine tasting?

It depends. Some wineries provide complimentary tastings of their various wines. Other wineries may ask you to pay a dollar or two to sample their wines. If the winery is tasting a special or reserve wine, the fee may be upwards of $10-20 per person.

During the Thanksgiving Weekend, many wineries host special tasting events. These cost from between $5 and $10 per person, allow you to sample a wide array of special and reserve wines, include complimentary food and cheese to accompany your tasting, and also allow you to keep your tasting glass.

Before visiting a winery, you can call ahead and inquire if there is a tasting fee. However, for the experience of sampling fine wines, talking with the tasting room staff, and enjoying a wonderful afternoon at an Oregon winery, the tasting fee is probably minimal.

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Is it okay to visit a winery in large groups?

Yes. It is not uncommon to organize your own tour, rent a private tour bus, and customize the tour specifically for you and your guests. If you have a party of ten or more people, organizing your own tour may be the best route to go. This way, you’ll be sure to plan the event, visit the specific wineries you have in mind, and get the most enjoyment possible.

Please remember that while most wineries welcome tour buses, not all have the facilities to accommodate such a large number of people. Please remember to call all the wineries ahead of time, before you organize the event. This will give them time to prepare for your arrival.

In addition, it is important to respect each winery’s property and tasting room. Please follow any instructions outlined by a winery at the time you arrive. Whatever you do, don’t jump off the bus and race your friends in a 100-yard dash down some vines! If anything is in question, please ask the tasting room staff first.

When touring a winery, note that the wineries may end up pouring a lot of wine – and often may not end up selling much wine compared to the large number of people present. You might consider asking your guests to purchase at least one bottle each as thanks for a winery opening up their tasting room to your group.

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Are there organized tours that visit different Oregon wineries, and if so, where can I learn more about them?

Yes. There are many private companies that operate tours throughout Oregon, who can provide you with an easy means to visit your favorite wineries.

Wine tours typically consist of a hired tour bus or van. A group leader will give you instructions on what to bring, any special rules (such as regulations about drinking on the bus), the wineries to be visited, the times to show up for departure, and so forth.

To learn more about Oregon wine tours, contact us and we’ll connect you with a tour provider!

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Can I bring a lunch or picnic with me when I visit a winery?

It depends. Most Oregon wineries welcome you to bring a lunch, and enjoy it while visiting with them in their tasting room. Some even have a specially designed patio with tables and benches for enjoying your lunch, while sipping their wine, and taking in the sweeping view of the surrounding vineyards.

If you’re not sure, call ahead and ask a member of the winery’s tasting room before you stop in for a visit. That way, you’ll be sure not to miss out on a perfect picnic location.

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Can I hold a wedding or wedding reception at an Oregon winery?

It depends. Many Oregon wineries have facilities, either on site, at one of their tasting rooms, or at a building in their local community, which can be rented to host your wedding or wedding reception.

The best way to find out is to call a winery and ask. If the winery does have the facilities to meet your wedding needs, they will be more than happy to provide you with the information to help make a decision about that important day.

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Are tastings formal events, and are they open to the general public?

It depends upon the occasion. If you are visiting a tasting during the winery’s normal business hours, come as you are – no special preparations or dress are required.

Wineries sometimes hold a special tasting event, such as during a hosted dinner at the winery, which may be a more formal event, and require advance reservations and tickets. During one of these events, you may have the opportunity to sample up to eight or more wines, learn how to pair each with cheeses and foods, learn the history and development behind each wine, and so forth. If a formal tasting event interests you, consider calling a few wineries and inquiring whether they will be hosting such an event in the near future.

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What should I do when visiting a winery’s tasting room?

It’s quite simple: walk into the tasting room, and you should be greeted by a member of the tasting room’s staff. They will introduce you to the winery, the different wines, the suggested order of tastings, and so forth.

The tasting room staff may hand you a sheet of paper noting the wines available for tasting. The sheet may show the wines’ vintage, varietal, appellation, alcohol strength, price, and tasting notes indicating the flavors and aromas to look for when sampling the wine.

You do not have to sample any wine. You can choose to sample only one wine, or you could try all of them. It’s your decision.

When tasting wines, you are not required to drink the entire sample. The winery will have a small bucket, in case you want to pour out the rest of the sample. In addition, tasters are encouraged to spit out the wine into the bucket. This prevents them from imbibing too much alcohol (those ounces add up fast!). Spitting allows tasters to sample wines throughout the day, without having their senses overpowered by the alcohol.

Wine drinkers are often nervous about their first visit to a winery. However, once they arrive, and notice other visitors around them, and are greeted by the tasting room staff, their fears are overcome with excitement about the fun ahead!

Remember to be mindful and respectful of the winery’s property and tasting room. If you have the chance to view some of the barrels, resist the temptation to touch them. Do, however, pick up the bottles, read their labels, and wander about the tasting room a bit. There are usually pictures, paintings, photographs, books, wine accessories, and other things to examine during your visit.

When you are at a tasting room, don’t be concerned about demonstrating your knowledge of the winery, its wines, or anything else. You, as with the other visitors present, are there to enjoy yourself, and learn about the wines in front of you. Oregon wineries are truly a fun place to visit. Give them a chance, and you’ll see for yourself why they are so special.

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