Strategies for a successful wine trail weekend |

Strategies for a successful wine trail weekend

On Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14 the Northern Sierra Wine Country Wine Association will host the annual Gold Harvest Wine Trail. What started out as a one-day event with a small handful of wineries has grown into a weekend long event with a dozen local wineries participating. Even in the beginning it was a push to visit all the wineries in one day, including the one in Truckee. Two days and 12 wineries don’t make it easier. I figure that between lunch and general goofing around visiting four wineries is a full day. You can do five, you could even do six, but how hard do you want to push the pedal. The day should have the atmosphere of casual relaxation and scavenger hunt fun. It’s best to have a strategy.

Make a plan

Get a Wine Trail brochure from any participating tasting room. They have a map and list the activities planned for each winery. It’s essential in deciding where to go and how to get there. There is no official starting place. You can start at any winery you choose.

Find people to go with, Wine Trail is more fun in a group. Invite some out of town friends. This is a great way to show off our wine country. It also doesn’t hurt that you’ll always have somebody who can drive. But groups are slow and get off track easily, which is all the more reason to have a plan.

Bring lots of water. Of course there will be water available everywhere but bring your own too. Staying hydrated with something other than wine is important.

The hardest thing about wine tasting all day is, wine tasting all day. You really want to avoid the, too-vigorous-start-and-wretched-finish syndrome. Take your own rinseable spit cup. The pros wouldn’t be pros if they swallowed everything they tasted. If that is too awkward take a sip of water for every sip of wine. A successful day of wine tasting requires moderation.

Decide where to go

Nevada County is a great place to go wine tasting. It’s hard to go wrong. There’s lots of good wine out there. There’s no one place everyone has to go and certainly no one place everyone should avoid. Some feature their vineyards, others feature the winery, some offer stunning views, some are tucked into beautiful little corners. There’s an adventure waiting behind every winery open sign.

Some people want to go to their favorites again and again where they know they’ll have a good time. Others want to go places they’ve never been or sample wines they’ve never tried before. Which is more fun for you?

Planning the route is important. There can be a lot of distance between wineries. Get hold of the regular Northern Sierra Wine Country brochure as well. In it there is a handy chart that will give you the approximate driving time between locations. Do you want to deadhead to one specific winery or visit everyone along the way? You have to create your priorities.

Wine, food and music

Check your brochure. There’s a ton of activities planned. Each winery has a paragraph about what they have scheduled. There are vineyard, winery and cave tours. There are barrel tastings as well as opportunities to make your own blend. You’ll be able to taste new wines of this vintages and Library wines from past vintages. You can even participate in grape stomps. Many will have live music, all will have food including various specific food and wine pairing opportunities. There are probably a few wine discounts available as well. You’re going to want to do it all. That’s why it’s so important to pick what you want to do most.

Call any winery directly for more details about what they’ve got going on. Because of The Constitution Day Parade in downtown Nevada City on Sunday, September 14 both Indian Springs Vineyard and Nevada City Winery will only participate in Saturday’s Wine Trail.

Tickets are $40 for both days, $25 for Sunday only and $10 for designated drivers and are available at participating wineries or, 1-866-355-WINE (9463).

Have fun out there. See you on the trail. If anyone makes it to all 12 wineries drop me an e-mail at and tell me how it was.

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