What Do You Do at a Winery?

It can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re just looking into your first wine tasting experience. You might find yourself asking, “what do you do at a winery?” Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Tons of people are in the dark about what this experience entails, and they often feel shut out. Fortunately, after a bit of reading and preparing, you’ll be ready to head out to a local winery and start sipping and sniffing. Yep. Sniffing is part of the winery extravagance. But let’s take it one step at a time.

Difference between a Winery and a Vineyard

First, it’s helpful to note that not all wineries are vineyards, and vice versa.

Vineyards are almost as old as human history. They are simply the location where the grapes are grown that will become wine. And while it might seem like no big deal at first, location is everything in the world of wine.

After all, some grapes cannot survive strong winds and cooler temperatures. Others ripen far too fast in excessive heat. Grapes that grow well on this side of the river or mountain may not fare as well on the other side, and this reality holds true for both sides of the river or mountain.

You will find different flavors come from rocky terrain versus a soil richer in clay. Furthermore, how the soil has been treated over the last several decades or centuries also matters. Every aspect of where a grape is grown affects its ultimate outcome as a grape and by extension as wine.

So, you see, the vineyard is a special place, and for this reason, hundreds of years ago, nobles began welcoming a select audience to their vineyards to taste the wines produced from their vineyards, and thus the winery was born.

The winery, as opposed, though not necessarily, to the vineyard, is the location where the wine is produced.

Originally, and for hundreds of years, these two places were basically one and the same. The winery would be located on the vineyard. The vineyard would supply grapes for the winery. And the total business was owned by a single person, family, or entity.

As corporate and commercial interests grew, however, some vineyards began to sell grapes to wineries, and small wineries opened to make wine but not necessarily grow the grapes.

Just like a brewer can make beer from grain and hops they don’t grow themselves, so too can a winemaker use grapes they did not have a hand in growing. Rather, they just become highly selective of where they get their grapes.

Also, you can now find small, urban wineries located in cities like Napa and Sonoma in California, where city dwellers can wander downtown and have dinner or a tasting only a few blocks away rather than venturing out to the valley for the full sprawling wine tasting experience. Urban wineries are typically owned and operated by the same entities that own the vineyard producing the grapes, but this case does not always hold true.

What to Do at a Winery?

Drink Wine

Thus, the first and most obvious thing to do at a winery is to drink the wine. In general, you’ll go to a winery for a tasting, which means you’ll read from a menu of selections, which could include reds, whites, and roses, all for your tasting pleasure. You might choose fewer or more wines to taste, depending on your plans for the day.

Your sommelier (that’s the person who will bring the wine and describe it to you), may also make suggestions. They will bring you about 2 ounces of wine in a glass, explain the history of this vintage and what to expect. You can drink the wine or spit it out.

These days, most people will drink wine at tastings rather than spitting.

To properly taste the wine, you’ll smell it first to allow your senses to fully engage. Then, drink the wine from the glass and swirl it around in your mouth, allowing it to touch every part of your mouth.

Finally, you swallow the wine and focus on any aftertaste or “finish.”


One thing that helps you keep a level head at wineries while tasting all these delicious varietals is to eat.

Most wineries will have at least an appetizer menu, with some meats, cheeses, nuts, and olives, as well as crackers or breads, to absorb all the wine you’re drinking.

Others will offer a full menu, often with pizza.

Notice there’s a lot of bread and cheese?

These two foods are well known for helping stave off the euphoric effects of alcohol, so you can hold your own for longer periods. These bites are particularly helpful if you plan to visit multiple wineries.

Tour the Vineyard and/or Cellar

In addition to eating and drinking at wineries, you can also tour the vineyard if you happen to be at a location that is both vineyard and winery. Many wineries will have special tours to see the grounds, where the grapes are grown. And in some locations, you can even participate in old fashioned grape stomping, the tradition where women once removed their shoes and stomped grapes with their bare feet.

You can also tour the cellars or other locations where the wine is made, which will give you a sense of the magnitude of the process.


If you happen to be at a winery that does not serve food, or you want more or different food than they serve, consider planning and packing a picnic. Many wineries offer a picnic area, complete with tables and tableware for you to enjoy a nice lunch of your own making while trying their wines.

Bring a blanket to lay out on the grass and plenty of breads and cheeses!

Engage the Sommeliers

Finally, any time you’re at a winery, take full advantage of the sommelier. Sommeliers chose their professions so they could become experts on wine and share their expertise. Encourage them to do it!

Ask questions, ask for recommendations, and really pick their brains. You’ll walk away with more than just a wine tasting experience. You’ll be wiser and more knowledgeable. And probably a bottle of wine or two.

Next thing you’ll be telling others all about what to do when visiting a winery.

Did you know that propagating wine yeast can help you significantly reduce production costs? Join the hundreds of vintners from all around the world using the Smartest Automated Yeast Cell Counter to save thousands of dollars in yeast and prevent costly issues such as stuck fermentation!
Request a Free Demo Account today and experience firsthand how Oculyze can take your winery to the next level! 

  • Publications

    What Can Bioethanol Be Used For?

    Have you been asking the question, “What can bioethanol be used for?” This article provides a history of this eco-friendly fuel and lists its uses.

    Read more
  • Publications

    What Is Bioethanol Made From?

    Have you been wondering, “What Is Bioethanol Made From?” This article explains the history of bioethanol and describes the resources used and the process.

    Read more
  • Publications

    Best Pattern Recognition Software

    A review of the best pattern recognition software for those interested in the various applications, including colony counts, bacteria identification, and more.

    Read more
  • 0
      Your Cart
      Your cart is empty