Missouri wineries are becoming more popular than ever and they are just waiting for you to come by for a visit this wine season. Each facility will vary here and there ensuring a unique experience; however, one thing all wineries will provide you with is a day (and a glass) filled with fun and excitement.

In order to make your winery day as successful as possible, we would like to share with you 12 tips to help the day flow as smoothly as the wine you are sure to be tasting.

1) SAFETY FIRST. Make sure you designate a driver for the day. Winery days not only include the wine you purchase, but the tasting room samples, which add up, especially if you plan to visit more than one location. Better yet, hire a car and driver for the day so no one misses out!

2) QUESTIONS TO ASK before going: Hours of operation? What will the weather be like? Are outside food and beverages allowed? Do they have a restaurant or café? Is there indoor and/or outdoor seating? Can I reserve seating? Is there space for me to bring my own blankets or chairs during busy season? Do they have live music? Are pets allowed? Are there activities for children?

3) FEE OR NO FEE? Every winery will offer sample tastings of their wines, some will have a small fee, and others are complimentary. Most fees are around $5 and include 4-6 samples. If there is no fee, it is recommended to stick with 3-4 samples. Just to be prepared, make sure you have a bit of cash on you.

4) FAVORITE WINE? What kind of wine do you like? After the warm welcome, this is the most likely follow-up question a tasting room staff member will ask you. This will give them an idea on where to guide the tasting. If you are familiar with California wines, but not Missouri, reference a wine you like and they can do their best to find a close comparison. If you are new to wine, be adventurous, ask them to give you a taste of their favorite and go from there!

5) BYOG (bring your own glass). Plastic cups are often the wineries’ go-to beverage receptacles. If you prefer an actual glass, most establishments give you the option to rent and/or purchase a glass (which make an excellent souvenir)! Having a personal back up is always a good idea, especially during the busy season.

6) READY TO LEARN Keep the tasting room staff on their toes! During your tasting, don’t be afraid to ask about the wines you taste. Here are a few ideas of questions to ask: Do you grow your grapes on site? What grapes are (fill in your wine here) made of? What is the fermentation process for this particular wine? What kind of food pairing would be good with this wine? What’s the story behind this particular winery?

7) BUY WINE Throw an empty cooler or spare cardboard box into the trunk with you. If the weather is hot outside, you don’t want your take-home purchases to sit in a hot car. Bringing an empty cooler or box will give you some temperature control without icing your wine.

8) STAY HYDRATED Again, tasting samples can and do add up, so it is important to hydrate throughout the day, especially in the humid summer months. Many of the wineries have beautiful outdoor areas you won’t want to miss out on because an extra glass of water was skipped in the enthusiasm for delicious wine!

9) WHAT TO WEAR? Step 1: Check the weather. Step 2: Dress for the weather. Step 3: Think casual with an upgrade. Wineries are not bars, although they are serving alcohol, so there is an added element of sophistication. In addition, some facilities will allow you to walk through the vineyards, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes to explore!

10) THE 5 S’s- Remember these 5 words when tasting wines: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, and Savor. The more senses you involve, the richer the tasting experience will be.

11) UPCOMING EVENTS Many wineries will have special events throughout the year. Some are free; others may require registration and a fee. Examples: harvest days, fall hayrides, summer cookouts, morning yoga, specialty wine showcases, balloon glows, car shows, etc. There is so much fun to be had!

12) HAVE FUN….and loads of it. The wineries are a place to go have a relaxing, enjoyable day with friends and/or family. Even if your friends claim they don’t like wine, wineries will try their best to convert even the most loyal of beer drinkers…or many offer beer. Really, the best tip we can give you is to come out and have a blast. If you are having fun, we are having fun!

Cheers!