Frequently Asked Questions

Is food included on my tour?

We offer lunch as an add on option. Enjoy a sandwich or salad and a double chocolate brownie, made by a local Walla Walla restaurant, during your tour for $15 per person. An email with a copy of the menu will sent to you with the sandwich and salad options.

How do you decide which wineries to visit?

We can be as involved or not involved as you wish. Standard protocol consists of emailing our customers a questionnaire which gives us a better understanding of their palette, what kind of experience they are looking to have, preferred varietals, if there are any "must-sees", price point, etc. With this information, we can completely customize an itinerary that fulfills as many of your desires as possible for your tour day. We also employ drivers knowledgeable in the area, with the wineries, in the industry, etc. We do not have drivers that are unfamiliar with any of these aspects of the wine industry. You will experience much more than just having a designated driver. 


If you already have done your research and you have your entire tour day planned out with reservations made, that is alright too! 


Some guests have a couple of their must-see wineries scheduled already but need some suggestions to round out their tour. We are flexible and would love to be able to help you with recommendations. 

How many wineries can we expect to visit in one tour?

This is somewhat of a loaded question. In short, it depends. We will plan on 4 to start, and if time allows, we will visit more. Why does it depend? It comes down to the group. Some people enjoy a leisurely experience where they are spending time at length at each winery we visit, hearing the stories, learning the history, walking the grounds, etc. Some people wish to visit wineries in all different areas of town resulting in spending additional time driving from location to location vs visiting more wineries within close proximity of one another. There are wineries that offer winery and production tours, which takes more time than a tasting alone. Enjoying a leisurely lunch at one of the stops, adds time spent at one particular spot. Other guests want to taste at and visit as many wineries as they can during their tour and so they will "speed taste" i.e. tasting quickly through the wines at each location. So yes, the number of wineries a group will visit during any given tour will vary. Letting us know ahead of time what kind of taster you are, will help us to better plan the timing for each place we visit during your tour.

What is NOT included in the cost of the tour?

There are a couple of things that are not included in the cost of your tour. Tasting fees are one of those things. The cost of tasting fees will vary from winery to winery. There are a few wineries that offer complimentary tastings, but most charge anywhere from $5-$20 per person. 

NOTE: Most all wineries will waive the cost of your tasting fee IF you purchase wine. Some wineries will only waive one tasting fee with the purchase of one bottle of wine. Others will waive a couple fees with the purchase of one bottle. There are a few wineries that require you to meet a specific dollar amount before they will waive any tasting fees. Each winery has its own rules and as tasters, we are required to abide by their policies.


Driver gratuity is also NOT included in the cost of your tour. Our drivers are not equipped to accept debit or credit cards, so we ask to please tip your driver with cash at the end of your tour. 

Gratuity

Gratuity can be a sensitive subject, however, we get a TON of questions related to this topic. This applies to our drivers, tasting room staff, and the owners of the business. Tipping for a service is customary, but the amount varies. Ultimately it is up to the customer, but should be based upon the service provided. When prompt and exceptional service has been provided, tipping is the means by which to acknowledge good service. 


If an individual at a tasting room went above and beyond and gave you a fabulous experience, it is absolutely ok to tip them, even if a tip jar is not set out. Also, not all point of sale systems offer a gratuity line, if you are paying with a credit card, so do not expect to be able to tip via credit card. 


Tour Guides traditionally receive 15% - 20% + depending on quality (knowledge, friendliness, etc), according to an article posted on TripAdvisor. Peggy Post, Head of the Emily Post Institute says, "Not tipping the owner is an old tradition that's dying out." She recommends 15% - 20% percent of the fee, whether or not you receive services from the owner of the business or an employee.

Can my kiddos come on the tour?

Unfortunately kids cannot come on a tour. For one, many wineries do not allow minors to visit the tasting rooms. There are a number of reasons why, but winery staff is generally most concerned with their guests having a wonderful experience. That includes ALL the guests. Most parents traveling to wine country without their own children are looking to enjoy some adult-time. It is important to be considerate of that. For many wineries, the experience has been that for every well-behaved child, there is at least one unruly one. Typically this isn't the result of simply a badly behaved child. More commonly, this is the result of a parent not taking control of the situation, resulting is disrupting other customers, which upsets everyone involved. Even if the wineries you would like to visit are kid-friendly, we are sorry, but we do not permit children on the tour.

Wine Tasting Etiquette

General Rules of Thumb when wine tasting:

  • Do not wear perfume, cologne, or body sprays. Wine tasting is a sensory experience. This includes both taste and smell. Coming into a tasting room smelling of perfumes and colognes will ruin the tasting experience for other patrons. Be mindful not to introduce any unwanted aromatics to the tasting room.
  • Cigarettes, coffee, toothpaste, chewing gum, mouthwash, and other such things are going to ruin your palette momentarily. If you have smoked a cigarette, drank your morning coffee, and/or brushed your teeth, eat a cracker or piece of bread to prepare your palette for wine tasting. Cigarette smoke also effects others in the tasting room if your clothing has absorbed the smell. 
  • Mind your manners. Be polite and don't expect to drink all you want. It is a "tasting" afterall. 
  • Don't be loud, don't be obnoxious, don't be unruly, don't swear. Many small, boutique wineries are family-run. When visiting a wine tasting room consider yourself a guest. The owners and staff are proud of their facility and want everyone to enjoy their visit.
  • Don't care for the wine? That's ok! Just be respectful and dont make a scene about it. Whether it is the winemaker pouring wine for you or not, it is not acceptable to be rude. The tasting room staff takes pride in the wines they are sharing with you and it is not kind to go on about how much you dislike it. Not everyone has the same palette, and it is absolutely ok to not care for a particular wine. Just keep in mind that the person pouring for you could be the person who made it, a family member, a friend, or simply a person that works there and respects the wine and the winemaker.
  • Be open minded and put aside any pre-conceived opinions. It may be true that you’ve never tasted a rosé you’ve liked, but go ahead and try what is being offered. There is always the dump bucket, and if the wine simply is not for you, no one will be offended. Refer back to the being respectful rule.
  • If you appear drunk, the tasting room attendant is not permitted, by law, to serve you even if it is a tasting. Drunken behavior has no place in the atmosphere of the tasting room. Wineries deal with this behavior  in different ways, most often you will be asked to leave.
  • Don't ask to revisit a wine if you have no intention of purchasing any wines.
  • Finally, whatever you do, do not act like a wine snob.

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

With a little help from Southwest Wine Guide, anyone can taste wine like a pro!

  • When the wine is poured, look at it, especially around the edges. Holding the glass by the stem and tilting the glass makes it easier to see the way the color changes from the center to the edges.
  • Sniff the wine so that you can compare the fragrance after swirling it.
  • Gently swirl the wine in the glass. This increases the surface area of the wine allowing it to reach your nose. It also allows for oxygen into the wine, helping  the aroma to open up.
  • While swirling the wine, note how slowly it runs back down the side of the glass. This is how you note the wine’s Viscosity. More viscous wines are known to have legs and are most likely to have higher alcohol content.
  • Sniff. Hold the wine glass a few inches from your nose and then let your nose go into the wine glass. Note any fragrance you may smell.
  • Sip. Take a sip of the wine and roll it in your mouth before swallowing to  make sure that it is exposed to all of your taste buds. You may detect  sweet, sour, savory, bitter or salty. Here is where you may also detect  texture.
  • Aspirate through the wine. Pursing your lips, draw some  air into your mouth and exhale through the nose. This process opens the  aromas of the wine, allowing them to reach your nose. The nose is the only place where you can truly detect the aroma of the wine.
  • Take a second sip of the wine. This time, bring in some air as you sip. Note any subtle differences in flavor or texture.
  • After swallowing, note the aftertaste and how long the finish lasts.
  • Write down your experience. Most wine tasting rooms will provide a wine tasting scorecard or sheet to jot down your impressions of the wine you tasted. Wines have four basic characteristics: taste, tannins, alcohol and acidity. Aging the wine softens the Tannins. Acidity will soften during the lifetime of the wine. Alcohol stays the same no matter how old the wine gets.