03 Jan The wineries in winter: a great time for you to visit
Just before the holidays, I paid a weekday visit to Stoller Family Estate in Oregon’s Dundee Hills wine country.
It was quiet.
It was so quiet you could almost hear the wine aging.
I found it to be a terrific time to go wine tasting.
No matter where you live, you have access to a winery. (Remarkably, wine is now produced in all 50 states.)
Regardless of their location, all wineries share one thing in common during winter: the pace has slowed.
The vines are dormant. The vineyards are all but abandoned.
Many winemakers have escaped, searching for warmth, sun and a brief break from their hectic day-to-day.
While “cellar season” isn’t as busy as spring, summer or harvest, it isn’t completely devoid of activity.
Since oak is porous, small amounts of wine evaporate in the barrel. Cellar hands thus have to continually “top up” or add wine to keep each barrel full.
Another regular task during cellar season is tasting…the careful monitoring of the continually-evolving contents of each and every barrel.
But if there is such a thing as a slow time at a winery, this is it.
That extends to the winery’s tasting room…for the time being.
When the weather warms, here they come…by limo, bus, even helicopter.
During a typical weekend day in the busy summer season, 500 or more visitors will jockey for space at the bar and go elbow to elbow in Stoller’s tasting room.
But during my two-hour visit in late December, I’d say about 20 people came and went.
That’s not a commentary on the Stoller tasting room experience. Not at all.
In fact, USA Today named Stoller the number one tasting room in the nation for 2018.
It has a unique design with a great view.
But you could say that about so many other tasting rooms in Oregon wine country and beyond.
The difference maker? Michelle Kaufmann, Stoller’s communication director, points to the tasting room staff.
“They’re knowledgeable, experienced and they provide a warm welcome to every single guest.”
You could make a convincing argument that winter is actually the best time to go wine tasting.
The crowds won’t return for months.
You’re likely to receive much more personal attention from the tasting room staff.
And the wine…especially the red wine…will taste just as good if not better on a chilly winter afternoon.