Summer Roadtrip – Savvy tips for winery visits

In less than a three hour drive from Ottawa, you can be in the heart of Canada’s fastest growing wine region – Prince Edward County. ‘The County’ as it is known, has over 20 wineries awaiting your visit. Take a drive for a day or make a weekend getaway to meet winemakers, sample their wines and roam through their vineyards. There are even wineries with restaurants to complete your wine getaway. And further along the 401, there are over 70 wineries awaiting you in the Niagara.

As a Sommelier, I enjoy travelling to wineries – whether driving around on my own, with other Savvy Sommeliers or even hosting a tour. Here are my ‘insider tips’ to make your roadtrip to wineries – anywhere in the world – more memorable:

Be selective – You don’t have to try every wine made by every winery. Decide ahead of time to taste a certain grape variety (Riesling, Merlot, etc) at each winery so that you can experience the changes from vineyard to vineyard as well as winemaker to winemaker.

Spitting is OK – We Sommeliers do it all the time! By spitting, you’ll be able to taste more wines on your roadtrip. Wineries will always provide a spittoon or bucket on the tasting counter. If it is not there – don’t be shy & ask for it!

Dumping is perfectly fine No need to finish all of the wine in your glass. When you’ve tasted enough, it’s perfectly ok to pour the remaining wine into a spittoon. Rest assured that the winemaker doesn’t take it as a signal that you didn’t enjoy the wine, rather it’s a sign you’re ready to move on to taste the next wine.

Refresh – It is important to nibble on crackers or plain white bread between tastings. And always make sure to have water nearby.  When ‘on tour‘, I always have bottles of water in my car to sip enroute.

Bring a cooler! Especially on a hot summer day, have a cooler in your trunk.  You don’t want the wines to ‘cook’ in the heat of your car – the wine (and your fond memories) can be spoiled by the heat.

There is an app for that – in fact, there are several to download on your IPod or Blackberry with maps, tips and wine reviews. The Ontario wine industry just released Traveling in Wine Country Ontario’ available at www.winecountryontario.ca Savvy Company fan Shawn McCormick has created the app Uncork Ontario

Most of all….have funwinemakers enjoy sharing their knowledge of wine & stories about winemaking, so don’t be shy – ask any questions!

For my ‘must visit’ list of Ontario wineries, email me

Cheers & safe travels!

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