About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Taste More-Learn More:

As you explore your enjoyment of the world of wine, go to as many “tastings” as you can. It’s a wonderful way to learn about different wines and explore your own taste preferences. Most of all, it’s fun! Sooner or later, this will include visiting tasting rooms at wineries. Once you reach this point in your exploration of the world of wine, it may be time to take a step that will truly enhance the tasting room experience: hire a tour guide.

The advantages of a professional tour guide are many; the three key ones being:
1. You don’t have to drive…. aside from the obvious advantage of not having to “swirl & spit” every wine you sample and concerns about driver impairment, you’ll also benefit from the ability to actively compare notes with your fellow tour participants.
2. Great information…. good tour guides take pride in knowing the history and background of the area, the vineyards and the wineries they take you to. They are a wealth of information and knowledge that will enhance your knowledge and take you beyond the mere tasting of the wines you sample.
3. Winery interaction…a good guide introduces his clients at each visit. Usually he and the winery staff are well acquainted and they understand some one who took the time and expense to work with a guide are passionate about their tasting experience and you will get more than your fair share of attention in the tasting room.

When planning to use a tour guide, do your homework. Most have good websites with description of their standard tours and some even offer “custom” tours. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, I’ve found it quite helpful to pick up the phone and call your prospective guide…they WANT you to have a great tour and once they know your relative wine knowledge and preferences, they can and will offer suggestions to make your tour as well as the rest of your stay in the wine country more enjoyable. If possible, book your tours away from weekends: the tasting rooms are less crowed then and the odds of your guide being able to modify or customize your tour to your wine preferences are greater.

One of the most memorable tour guides I’ve ever encountered was Gene Warren of Healdsburg Area Winery Tours in Sonoma County. We booked twice with Gene and he was instrumental in helping me plan a custom tour to introduce Mrs. Wine Guy to the wonders of good red wines from the Russian River Valley. We also enjoyed a great picnic lunch (see photo) prepared by Gene’s wife and partner Debbie. (The Wine Guy was a bit stouter back then, wasn’t he?) If you’re headed to Sonoma County, consider Healdsburg Area Winery Tours.

Check out Gene’s services at www.healdsburgareawinerytours.com.

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