This post is the second in a series that details what you can expect when you visit a Finger Lakes Winery. Winery visitors come for a variety of reasons. Read below to see which category fits your desired experience, and what to expect based on that!
What type of experience you are going for?
Are you with a bachelorette or bachelor party? Do not expect a full description of every wine by the tasting room server. By all means feel free to ask questions, but the likelihood of a server paying significant attention to you or your party is fairly slim. They most likely want to get you in and out before you cause too much of a ruckus!
Are you in a smaller group (2-6 people) or going solo? You will likely get more personalized service! Expect the server to ask you what type of wine you like to drink (dry or sweet). Feel free to engage the tasting room server in a conversation about the wines/winery/ or anything at all!
What time of the year are you visiting?
Are you visiting in peak season (May-October)? If so, you might encounter more crowded wineries. If you are in a small group (see #1 above), feel free to wait until a space opens up at the tasting room bar to get the full experience. If you are short on time, you might have to squeeze your way in and the service might not be as personalized. Don’t be afraid if they take you to a “satellite” bar that is away from their main bar. Many tasting rooms do this during their busy season so that they can give their guests the full FLX experience even when they are busy.
Are you visiting in the off-peak time frame (November- April)? Make sure you look up the wineries you’d like to visit online. Some shut down for certain stretches of time in the winter. Others have limited hours, or are not open on certain days. However, don’t let ANY of this discourage you! My favorite time of the year to visit the wineries are in the winter. You are almost guaranteed to have a very personalized wine tasting as traffic dramatically slows down in the winter. Stay at a local Bed and Breakfast, cozy up to their fire and grab a bottle of wine to share with a special someone!
What to expect when you walk in the door…
If you are in a small group, walk directly up to the tasting room bar. The server will likely ask you if you’d like to try dry wines or sweet wines, or they can guide you on selecting a few from both sides of the aisle. You can also ask them for advice on selecting which wines to taste. Most places will give you five samples. Some have all dry flights (a term meaning 3-5 small samples of wine) or all sweet flights, and many wineries you can select your own samples.
If you are in a big group (more than 8 people), it is courteous and expected that you make tasting reservations in advance. Many wineries do not allow buses or limos, so be sure to check in advance that the winery will accept these if this is your chosen mode of transportation for your large group. If you are a large group, make sure there is a point person who has collected tasting room fees in advance. This person should walk into the winery first and speak with the Tasting Room manager to let them know the group has arrived. That person should then hand over the tasting room fees. Some places will require a wrist band, others will hand out souvenir glasses, and some others are simply on an “honor” system where after the money is handed over the group can pony up to the bar.
Up Next: See Part 3 of this series to decide what wines to try when you visit a Finger Lakes Winery!