One of the joys of being a wine aficionado is going to a winery, taking a tour and then tasting the products of that vineyard. Although some visitors have their entire focus on the tasting room, those who get the most out of their visit will actively engage with their hosts and ask questions about the winery, its processes and more.
Thoroughly learning about the vineyard and the wines it produces will give you something concrete to impart to friends and family when you enjoy the bottles you bring home.
On your next winery visit, consider these five questions to make your visit more enjoyable.
Questions to ask on a vineyard tour
What equipment and methods do you use to sanitize your winemaking operation?
Contamination from bacteria and yeast residue can spoil a vintage. Therefore it's important that every winery properly sanitizes all equipment involved in winemaking. Vineyards that are serious about producing top quality wines will have a thorough process in place. Some may have special techniques that they use to clean out or care for their wine barrels, like using pressure washing tools from companies like Jetwave Industrial Equipment that provide such appliances for those in the winery industry.
What’s the most amazing part of the winery's history?
Every wine-making operation has a story. Many wineries have basic history on their websites, but the information on a tour will go way beyond, especially if the winery is a family-owned operation. Wineries established by European immigrants can be especially interesting as many brought special vines or techniques with them. Family members who may be tour guides are especially good sources of information as they can relate funny or poignant stories about the winery and its operation.
Do you have any favorite recipes to pair with your wines?
Closely related to the family history question is asking your hosts about favorite recipes to pair with certain wines. Such meals often come from family recipes that have been handed down for generations that you won't find in any cookbook.
How does the local terroir make your wines special?
A wine's unique traits are embodied in the concept of "terroir," a term that attempts to capture all of the complex influences that go into wine making. The term refers to all of the environmental and cultural influences, such as climate, soil composition, traditions and more that give wine its character. Even within a noted area such as Napa Valley, microclimates exist that affect how grapes grow and ultimately how wine tastes.
What varieties of grapes do you use?
Even if you are an experienced wine drinker, you may end up learning about a new variety being developed or an old one making a reappearance. Take advantage of such knowledge and give those varieties a try.
By asking more questions, you’ll make your trip to the winery very special. It won’t be just like every other vineyard you’ve ever visited, because it will be about more than just the wine.
You’ll walk away with knowledge and a special connection as well.