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Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

Chapel Hill, NC
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Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

OK, so I have read tons of forums and books trying to answer what seems to be an age old question - how many wineries can you visit in a day. I have seen people saying about 3-4, or maybe 5. Here's my question - why so few? Is the reason so few is recommended because more would simply be too much wine to drink? Or is it because time constraints make it impossible? Our main goal in our unfortunately short time in Sonoma is to get a great spectrum of wineries, see beautiful grounds, and drink a decent amount of good wine.

It seems like you would only want to spend an average of 45 minutes to an hour (plus or minus) at most places, and maybe take a one hour tour. And that the wine tasting hours are 10-5 (and sometimes even 6). That's 7-8 hours. Why not do 6 or 7? For example, this itinerary:

Ledson at opening, 10 AM.

Chateau St Jean

Bring picnic lunch to Benziger, take tour

That should get us to about 1:30, I would estimate? Then:


Mayo Family

Now it's about 3, so you move along to:


Cline (open til 6)

That's 7. If it's way too much, or we just find ourselves enamored at an early one, we drop Imagery or Mayo (or just start at Chateau St Jean and drop Ledson, since we want some smaller wineries along with the touristy ones). Either way, that's a solid 6.

But I realize how strongly 3-5 is recommended, so I guess somewhere my logic is broken?

It's not like we need to drink at every place - some maybe just see the grounds, others utilize the spit buckets...

As always, appreciate the help!

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Chapel Hill, NC
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1. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

By the way..I mapped out what I am talking about (starting and ending at our B&B, right near the plaza):


As you can see, the route covers a total of about 45 miles in a complete loop. That's only about 30-35 miles after 10AM, starting at Ledson, so it's only like an hour of driving the whole time we can be tasting...

Destination Expert
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2. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

You're quite right that chronologically and geographically speaking, one could certainly visit 7 or more wineries during a full day, but it's all in what you wish to accomplish during the visits. Most people, once they're even near a tasting room, don't want to forgo the experience of at least trying that winery's product. If you truly will forgo tasting at a couple of the places, then that's fine. The main reason most people recommend a max. of 5 tasting rooms per day is that one's ability to discern the wine's characteristics really does become more and more compromised as the day wears on--even if you limit your tastes per winery to 2 or 3, and utilize the dump bucket. It's hard to say "no thanks" when they're pouring 4-6 different wines. I've found that the most enjoyable and enlightening experiences result from choosing one or 2 varietals to taste at each of the wineries visited the same day. I will usually choose a Chard and a Zin, but that's purely based upon my own personal tastes. And I know I won't be able to resist a taste of a Barbera or a Malbec, if a tasting room just happens to be pouring one of these rarer varietals!

Bay Area, CA
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3. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

I agree that 4-5 tasting stops is a good number. When trying the younger fruity wines, so prevalent in Sonoma, its easy to blow away the palate. Bread, crackers, and lots of water can help to counter act the effect.

If you are an experienced wine taster (i.e. professional) then more may be possible due to the fact you will not actually be swallowing, but spitting the wine into a spit bucket. This is usually uncomfortable to the casual taster and rarely seen in tasting rooms on a normal day.

I think that having 6 to 8 choices is not a bad idea. Just be flexible so that when you find a stop you really enjoy, kick back and take it all in. Then drop one of the next ones off the list. Of course as you drive along, you will undoubtedly see something or someone may recommend a place that may replace one of the planned stops.

I personally like to slow down a bit in Sonoma, there is laid back feeling you can get if you don't rush. If I don't get a chance to visit one I wanted, well there is always next time.

Birmingham, AL
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4. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

I think the recommendation of 3-5 wineries a day is based on drinking all of every pour offered. Not everyone does that. If you share tastings, use the spit cups provided and drink lots of water between stops, there's no reason you can't taste at more wineries.

We normally taste at six a day: two in the morning and four in the afternoon. It all depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to do sit-down tastings or tours. Others would rather walk in and do a quick tasting. So...it's up to you, really.

Louisville, Kentucky
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5. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

Please don't skip Imagery in favor of Viansa.

Chapel Hill, NC
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6. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

Thanks for all the great advice, folks. Our interest is to be able to see as many different wineries as comfortably possibly. My only real fear is driving drunk. Losing the "ability" to discern varietals is of less concern - that's not a real talent of ours anyway - we just enjoy wine, but we're not yet sophisticated enough to be able to accurately compare two kinds of the same wine anyway. We want to come home and be able to go to a store or see a wine list and actually pick a wine from a place we enjoyed.

I hear things mixed about Vinasa, especially since they may have new owners? But I don't think we'd skip it, it seems like a must-do. Unfortunately it looks like we will miss Buena Vista...

7. Re: Repeated question, sort of - wineries in a day

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