5 tips to get the most from your trail

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Wine tours have a time. They’ve always been around, but the growing popularity of wine tours for events such as bachelorette parties and birthdays has drawn more and more people to the wineries.

Events like Shawangunk Wine Trail’s Wine and Bites, held annually in the spring, can attract even more wine drinkers and their designated drivers to wineries.

Wine and Bites, a weekend where each of the 15 wineries offers their customers dishes to accompany a tasting, was my first time on an official wine tour. I spent a day touring 10 of the 15 wineries with my mom and step dad, our designated driver.

Bottles of wine line the tasting room at Stoutridge Vineyard in Marlboro on May 7, 2017.

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Here are five things I learned on my first wine tour.

1. Do your research before you go

The grapes are harvested at Palaia Winery.

If you prefer a certain type of wine, whether sweet or dry, doing your research beforehand can help. We only had one day to try the wineries we liked, so researching the wines with the taste profile we preferred was extremely helpful. This shortened the route we were on and set our goal of ten wineries for the day.

We started our hike at Glorie Farm Winery in Marlboro, (Ulster County) and headed to Palaia Winery and Meadery in Highland Mills, Orange County, rather than looking through the map. The longest time we spent on the road was around 20 minutes and that was only because we skipped a winery between two others on our list.

The sight of Benmarl Winery in Marlboro adds to the experience.

2. Always have a designated driver

It should go without saying, but designated drivers are an absolute must. Not everyone spits out the wine they try – I may have seen someone spit it out on our trip. Often, events, like Wine and Bites, offer a designated driver ticket option at a greatly discounted price. Although the driver cannot enjoy the spirits, he can enjoy the food, scenery and events of the winery. If everyone wants to join the wine tour, groups often opt for limousine service.

Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville dates back to 1839 and claims to be America's oldest winery.

3. Know your limit

No one wants to be THAT person. Each winery gives you a good glass of wine, but knowing your limit is important. If you get drunk, not only is it embarrassing, it can confuse other people trying to enjoy the cellar, as well as the cellar itself.

There is food at most wineries which helps. My advice: bring a reusable water bottle and don’t forget to drink it after each tasting. It keeps you hydrated and in a good state of mind all day. Forgot your water bottle? Most wineries offer water to cleanse the palate, but you can certainly drink it too.

The outdoor patio of Robibero Winery in New Paltz.

4. Take your time

Wine tours can take longer than a day, so don’t rush or try to bring them all together in one outing. We started our tour at 10am and ended around 5pm, but it was the hours of the Wine and Bites event. We didn’t go to all 15 wineries, but we did have ten. Wineries tasting times may vary.

If you have a whole weekend to visit, take the whole weekend. While we spent a lot of time at each winery it would have been a much better experience if we had spread it out and got to explore more of the wineries and maybe take a real tour of our favorite establishments.

Awosting White (named after a nearby waterfall) is Whitecliff Vineyards' most popular wine.

5. Set a budget

Taking a winery tour means tasting a lot of wine, some of which can only be found at a specific winery, meaning you could end up spending a lot of money on wine, as well as food at the winery and memories. . Budget before you go. Typically, a bottle of wine costs around $ 20, so if you want to be budget conscious, save your money for a wine you fall in love with.

Planning a visit

Shawangunk Wine Route Events:

  • Hudson Valley Wine Tasting Passport: Until August 31, those interested in a wine tour can purchase the wine tasting passport. The passport is currently on sale for $ 35 through July 31. The passport can be used at all wineries on the Shawangunk Wine Trail for regular wine tasting to each.
  • Wreath sets at wineries: For three weekends in November and December, wine tour enthusiasts can join in crown adornments at The Wineries. To begin with, each participant receives a wreath with a wine route ornament. As they go to each cellar and enjoy the tastings, each gives them an ornament. Designated drivers can also have fun since they also receive a crown. Wineries will also be decked out in their holiday braids, which adds to the experience.
  • Wines and Bites: The event where each wine estate combines food and tastings will be back in May 2020.


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