It is a common dream among wine enthusiasts and amateur sommeliers to one day visit a winery, but this begs the question: how much does it cost to visit a winery?
Unfortunately there is no one answer to this question, since visiting a winery can cost anywhere from $10 to $10,000 dollars depending on where you are going, when, and what you want to do while on site.
Most wineries charge nothing for a person to visit the property grounds. Tasting fees typically run anywhere from $5 to $30 per person depending on the winery and booking winery tours can easily go into the hundreds even in less popular destinations.
Everything depends on what winery you visit, what you drink, what other aspects of the winery you visit, and what other features exist around the winery. There is no formula to calculate every cost of visiting a winery, however this article will go over what to look for in a winery trip and how much a visit might set you back.
Consider Where you Want to Go
There are almost 9,000 wineries scattered across the United States alone without considering famous wine countries such as France and Italy. With such a staggering variety of choices in the US alone, it is important to carefully consider where you want to go on your winery visit.
First and foremost, settle on how far you want to go to enjoy a winery visit, as travel expenses should be counted toward how much it costs to visit a winery. If you are within driving or busing range, you can certainly save some money, but if you live on the east coast and want to visit Sonoma remember to factor your plane tickets into your budget.
Also consider that the more famous a wine area is the more expensive it will be to go for a visit for a number of reasons. For example it is more expensive to maintain a winery in Napa Valley due to the excellent conditions for grape growing. The extra costs for land ownership and development are passed along to visitors.
Famous wineries also tend to have a lot of prestige associated with them, and for good reason as they produce quality wines. The reputation of a famous winery can increase the price of a visit, which leads to more expensive visits but also more art and amenities for visitors to enjoy while in the winery.
Finally be sure to think about when you want to visit a winery, as different seasons offer different experiences. As general rule, it is better to visit a winery early in the morning when they are less busy so you can enjoy more of the experience in peace without large crowds.
Most wineries are busy in summer and fall, so you will have the least personal experience but have an opportunity to see the workings of a winery. Think big healthy grape clusters on the vine, and harvest and wine making in the fall. Conversely winter and spring tend to be slow seasons so you can enjoy a more private tasting tour but you will also be missing some of the excitement of the winery. It’s a trade-off between activity and quality of tour.
Consider What Wines you Want to Taste
While most modern wineries will diversify, they will often have a few varieties they are especially famous for. If you are looking for fine Chardonnay or a sweet blush wine, research what a winery specializes in before you decide to book a visit.
Also be aware that many wineries will charge you per tasting in addition to an initial visiting fee. This fee per sample is usual small, less than $3 per sip, but if you intend to enjoy a lot of wine the fees will add up, especially if you are enjoying expensive bottles.
Some wineries will also maintain private tasting rooms where customers can enjoy wine samples in peace and quiet. These rooms range from decorated cellars to lavish vista patios, and the price range is just as wide. Generally speaking rooms and tours are paid on a per-person basis, from $20 to over $50.
In addition to wine, some wineries also offer tastings of hors d’oeuvres like cheese and meat to enjoy while you drink. These are often samples of foods that pair well with the wine you have chosen so this is an excellent way to test food pairings. These samples are not often free, however, and you will need to pay for snacks and palette cleansers such as this.
Consider Other Aspects of a Winery Visit
When visiting a winery you can enjoy more than just tastings of fine wine and samples of cheese. Most wineries also offer guided tours, walking trails, and other informative or entertaining activities for visitors.
The most common of these activities is guided tours of winery facilities and associated vineyards. These tours often discuss the history of a given winery and how it creates wine, from fermenting grapes to bottling finished products. Depending on the size of the winery you are visiting this could take about an hour or be something you need to plan your entire day around.
Some wineries also maintain facilities like restaurants and picnic areas for visitors to sit down and enjoy a meal with a glass of the local wine. You will have to pay for these items out of pocket, just like regular restaurants, but you will have access to fresh, high quality wine while you dine.
Wineries can also maintain museums dedicated to wine making or the winery’s history, as well as gift shops selling local wine-themed souvenirs. These can be interesting for people interesting in exploring the history of wine or bringing a piece of wine culture home. Just remember that museums will generally be included in the visit cost, while souvenirs are not.
Finally, some wineries are part of wine tasting tours or trails, where multiple wineries can be visited in quick succession on one day-long tour. These can be guided bus tours, bike trails, or even hiking paths that wind through multiple wineries. If you are interested in seeing multiple wineries but not paying for each one, consider taking a wine tasting tour.
Consider What you Want to do Outside of the Winery
Unless you live close by, odds are you don’t want to drive or fly for hours on end for a winery visit just to taste some nice vintages and tour the vineyard. Once you are done with your initial visit, or between activities, you may want to look for other amenities near your destination.
What other activities exist around the winery you visit depends on where your winery is located. For example, in a cosmopolitan region like Napa Valley you can find restaurants, bars, theaters, and stores of all types. In a rural area like Sonoma, however, you will find more nature trails and bike paths to explore.
Before you leave for your visit, consider if you want to do more than just tour a winery and enjoy some samples. If you are interested in making a day of your winery visit then consider what activities you are looking for and see if you can find them around the winery you intend to visit. Just remember to factor the cost of these side activities into your overall trip.
When considering a trip to a famous vineyard or winery it is important to ask: how much does it cost to visit a winery?
There is no one answer to that question, and total prices could range from $10 to $10,000 depending on a number of factors. Where you go, how far you travel, what you buy, and what other features you take in all effect the price of a winery visit. So if you are planning a trip to a winery, consider carefully what you want to do and how much it will cost.