How Wine Tours Work

If you're lucky, you'll see a reflection of the vineyard in your wineglass.
If you're lucky, you'll see a reflection of the vineyard in your wineglass.
Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

In the movie "Sideways," the character of Miles Raymond gives his novice wine-touring companion Jack a lesson on wine tasting. Besides telling his friend to tilt the glass of wine on its side to observe whether the color extends out to the rim, he advises Jack to stick his nose deep into the goblet for a good, long sniff. When Miles submerges his own nose in his wineglass, inhales and exclaims that he smells citrus, strawberry, passion fruit, asparagus and a flutter of nutty cheese, Jack looks puzzled.

It's this wine sniffing behavior that bewilders neophyte wine tasters who, like the character of Jack, want to ask the obvious question: "When do we get to drink it?" But perhaps the movie's popularity with audiences is a testament to the perfect pairing -- wine snob with wine oaf. No matter where you fall on the wine connoisseur spectrum, there's a place for you in the wine country.

Wine tours are educational experiences. Besides tasting wine, you'll tour the vineyards and walk the rows of the season's harvests. Depending on the time of year, you may even be invited to pluck a few grapes and sample them straight from the vine. After returning from the vineyard, you'll head inside to visit the production area of the winery. Tours culminate in wine tasting.

A wine tour can last anywhere from an afternoon to two weeks. Some people tour in cars, limos and vans -- others on bikes and even kayaks. And some vacationers even squeeze in a game of golf or a cooking class between tours. Most wineries are open to the public a large part of the year. If you live within driving distance, you can hop in the car and spend the afternoon touring the winery and come home that evening with a new addition for your wine cellar. If you're in the mood for a vacation, you can tour multiple wineries every day.

Why do wineries open their doors to the public? To sell wine. After strolling through the sun-drenched rows of vines and sipping on a few pinots and merlots, it's unlikely you'll leave the tour empty-handed. What else should you expect from a wine tour?