Snow on the mountains
If you live most any place in the now drenched state of Oregon, you’ve likely heard how the wineries go all out over Thanksgiving weekend. New releases get poured, library wines are opened, wine club member pick up parties abound, along with much food and music to celebrate the end of harvest and give thanks for our many blessings. With such a late harvest this year, not all the wineries here have tucked their wines into tanks and barrels just yet. The grapes need to finish fermenting first! This delay in the harvest gives visitors the opportunity to see the winery in action so if tours of the working area of the winery are offered, take a few moments to see how the magic happens.

Who’s your DD?

My first suggestion before you head out to wine country is to start with a plan of who’s going to be the designated driver. I’ve met a number of people who have “hired” their teen or twenty-something children or relatives to chauffeur them around for the day. I think this is a genius plan. Share the opportunity by inviting another couple and splitting the cost, making this option even more affordable.

You won’t offend anyone by spitting wine

If you plan to hit several wineries, spitting is an excellent way to avoid intoxication. Winery staff will treat you like a pro if you choose to spit. Anyone who doesn’t possess a spitting gene (like me,) just watch a couple videos on YouTube and practice in the shower before you attempt public spitting to build your confidence. Beginners should position themselves directly over the spittoon and I find forming an “O” with my lips allows the wine to dribble out in a more uniform stream. Be careful not to stick your face too close or you may get splashed- YUCK!

And now there’s an app for that!

Smartphone users can download any number of quality apps to help plan their route in advance and navigate between locations. Scan this QR code with your smartphone to download a recently released wine app by Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Not only that, but if you “check in” using Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., some wineries offer special discounts and incentives. Twitter users should participate in the Willamette Valley Wineries Association Twitter Contest by tweeting a wine tasting photo using the #GoWineTasting hashtag.

Be patient

Once out in wine country during these holiday weekends, expect crowds and traffic. Remember to be patient with the winery staff too as they’re often not used to serving as many folks as these weekends can bring to the tasting room. These events generate a lot of the bread and butter for many smaller wineries as well as offer the opportunity to showcase their wines and sell directly to the public.

So please enjoy the wine, food and entertainment the wineries provide and thank them by making a purchase to take home with you as a souvenir of Thanksgiving weekend 2011!

**I am working all weekend at Carlton Cellars in Downtown Carlton, OR. Three other wineries produce wine out of the Carlton Cellars custom crush facility so please join us in tasting wines under the Carlton Cellars, Angel Vine, Ghost Hill and Youngberg Hill labels. Tasting fee is just $10 and waived with a purchase of $30 or more! Please come by and say hi!

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