California’s wine country covers around three hundred square miles and hundreds of wineries. Without at least a vague plan, you could find yourself randomly driving around and sipping wine, without really getting much out of the experience.

But with a little time and planning, your wine tour can go from drab to fab quickly.

Here are 14 tips to get the most out of your wine tour and the best value for your budget the next time you visit Santa Barbara.

1. Prepare for Your Tour

Whether you’re planning a full day out or a couple of hours, you want to make the most of your experience. To do that, you need to be comfortable. Choose casually elegant clothing for your wine tasting and you’ll set the tone for a relaxed yet sophisticated outing.

On that note, avoid wearing heavily scented perfume or cologne. The scents overwhelm wine aromas, interfering with the experience.

Do think about the weather. If you’re planning on trekking through a vineyard or two or enjoying a delicious picnic, you’ll want to take sunscreen, umbrella and comfy shoes.

2. Hire a Driver

Chances are, you’ll want to taste a decent number of wines. Even the little tastes add up. What’s more, some of the wineries are spread out, which means you need to reach them by car.

With professional transport, you don’t need to worry about drinking and driving, or getting lost. You can enjoy group or personal tours with a knowledgeable driver who will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation.

3. Try to Start Early

Santa Barbara is a popular destination for getaways, and that means places can get packed in high season, especially after noon. Head off a little later in the day, and you might miss out on personal attention and thorough explanations.

So, start your wine tour earlier in the day to miss the crowds and make the most of your outing. It’s also a good time to discover the hidden gems that might not be accessible otherwise.

4. Don’t Be in a Rush

If you’re planning to visit three or four wineries in the day, make sure you stretch them out. Wine tasting is fun, and you should take your time to enjoy the entire experience. You should plan for about an hour per winery, and perhaps a little longer if you’re stopping at one of them for a picnic.

5. Taste the Best in the Region

If you’d like to sample specific wines, like a Pinot Noir or a local blend, you should taste the best. This is where research and a knowledgeable wine tour guide come in handy. You can search out the best wineries for your preferred taste buds and your budget.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

While you’re taking time to sip the different varietals, get to know the winery you’re visiting and its offerings. Even a simple question can shed light. Ask about the property and its founders, how to order the wine you like and get it back home, and about the winemaking process.

In smaller wineries, you’ll often find that the person in the tasting room is the winemaker or owner, and often they’re happy to share their stories with you. It’s an incredible way to get an appreciation for the hard work that goes into every bottle.

7. Only Take the Kids If  There’s Something for Them to Do

Santa Barbara’s wine regions are gorgeous, lush, and brimming with beautiful vineyards, and the winery people are usually friendly. So, it’s a shame for children to miss out on the wine tour experience.

However, tasting rooms can be boring for the little ones, so make sure there’s something for them to do, be it animals to pet, jungle gyms, or something else. Some wineries have family or children activities on offer.

8. Don’t Get Pressured Into Spending Too Much

A wine tour is all about the experience. From exploring facilities to learning about the process of growing and bottling grapes, you should take the time to enjoy the sights and tastes. Don’t feel obligated to buy wine at each stop you make. If you do enjoy a certain varietal, go ahead and purchase, but don’t be pressured into spending more than you want to.

Also, if you do come back with a few bottles (or cases), make sure you know how to store them. Some varietals need to be refrigerated immediately, especially if you want to carry on enjoying them later in the day.

9. Avoid Overpaying for Tasters

Some wineries charge a fee for tasting. On average, you might taste three or more wines from the list, getting just a small amount of each. To stretch your bankroll, try sharing your glass with someone.

10. You Don’t Have to Drink It All

If you don’t like a particular wine or just don’t feel like finishing what’s in your glass, don’t be embarrassed to pour the rest out. The pourer doesn’t get offended, and they may even think you’re a serious taster.

You never know, they might just bring out something special for you to try.

11. Don’t Forget to Spit

Professionals never swallow their drink during a wine tasting because they don’t want to get intoxicated. As a casual wine taster, you don’t need to spit out your tasters, but rather try not to go to more than three or four wineries in a day.

Try to drink at more locations than that, and you might not remember the experience. Even if you don’t taste too many wines, they all tend to taste the same after a while, and you might regret buying a bottle later.

12. Take Water with You

Take water with you on your outing to avoid getting dehydrated. After each stop, aim to drink the same amount of water as the amount of wine you tasted. It also helps to eat a little something before you start the day, to slow the absorption of the alcohol. Don’t forget to enjoy a picnic lunch during one of your stops.

13. Pack a Cooler

Even on a mildly sunny day, the inside of the car can get hot. While our black car service includes air-conditioned, luxury vehicles, you may still want to take along a wine shipping container or cooler to hold your treasures.

14. Sit Back, Relax and Leave it To the Experts

Hiring professional transportation means you can enjoy as many types of wine as you like without the worry of getting to and from your accommodation or between wineries. It also means you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the Santa Ynez Valley and surrounding areas while soaking up five-star treatment.

When you book a wine tour with us, you can visit up to four wineries of your choice, either in a large group or private guided tour. Our service includes a catered picnic lunch, door-to-door transportation and luxury vehicles that will transport you in style and comfort.

With these 14 tips, you can truly get the most out of your wine tour and ensure a trip you will never forget.

Book your Santa Barbara wine tour with Silk Road Transportation today.