Every year, my friend and I hit the wine trail in Ulster County in late November/early December.
While having fun is our main priority, we wouldn't be able to do so without first being safe. So, here are 10 tips for a fun and SAFE day on the wine trail-- from 2 self-appointed "experts in the field".
Tip #1 - Hire teens as chauffeurs.
This can be so fun if the teens play along. For the past two years we have hired my son and his friend at a fraction of the cost to rent a limo for the day. They are such good sports, and actually add considerably to the fun of the day. And as the day progresses, and our jovial spirits increase, so does their role-playing. Before you know it, they're opening doors and saying things like "let me get that bag for you, ma'am.... Now watch your step".
Tip #2 - Leave the kids home!
Now why I even need to say this is beyond me, but I guess the obvious isn't so obvious to everyone. So take note, parents--wineries are NOT for kids. And take it from those of us who are paying babysitters, your kids should be running around a park-- not a winery. Is there no place sacred anymore?
Tip #3 - If you're on a budget, bring cash and leave your credit cards home.
You will be amazed how the wine at the last couple of wineries tastes SO much better than the wine at the first couple. And if you're toting a credit card, it is amazing how many bottles of wine you can come home with, not to mention the t-shirts, fancy wine corks, cocktail napkins, and other accessories.
Tip #4 - Pack an ice chest.
This is actually one of the greatest ideas. We bring a small ice chest with lots of water, cheese and crackers. And as we drive between each winery, we indulge. It really helps to prevent getting too tipsy, getting a hangover, and prevents me from getting what I call a "red-wine headache".
Tip #5 - Call ahead before planning the day.
For the past couple of years, we have been hitting the wine trail on Black Friday. We never had a problem in the past, but this year three of the wineries on our itinerary were closed. It was a big bummer, which could have been avoided with a phone call, or even by checking their web site.
Tip #6 - Pre-program your GPS.
As frustrating as they can be at times, GPS's are great. Spend 1/2 hour or so the night before and preprogram the addresses, then just give your "chauffeurs" the itinerary with the wineries listed in the correct order. It's hassle-free!
Tip #7 - Dress in layers.
This is especially true in the winter months, but in the summer you have air conditioning to contend with. And, you will find that as the day progresses and your blood alcohol increases, so does your body temperature. Also, the temperatures at the different wineries vary greatly.
Tip #8 - Make dinner reservations.
Good food is just what your body is craving at this point. So end the day at your favorite restaurant. Personally, I like Limoncello's in Goshen, where you get a complimentary shot of Limoncello after dinner.
Tip # 9 - Drink more water.
Before bed, make sure you drink another bottle of water. Your body needs it, and you will be glad you did come morning.
Tip #10 - Don't make major plans for the next day.
You'll be pleased to sleep in and have the day to relax.