Whether you are taking your significant other out on a romantic date, or meeting up with friends, a winery picnic can be an excellent way to spend an afternoon.
Nature’s backdrop (and a gourmet glass of wine!) can allow you to get away from the daily grind and leave you with a fresh perspective.
We’ll let you in on some of our favorite ideas and the essentials you will need to plan a winery picnic.
How to Plan the ultimate Winery Picnic
Pick Your Winery
Look through the wineries near you… or you can take a drive to a bed and breakfast winery for a weekend getaway.
It’s a great idea to check the website for important information about the winery, including what they allow or don’t allow, if they have outdoor picnic accommodations, and if they offer tours or workshops.
Many wineries have special events in springtime or in harvest season, so you may want to plan your picnic to coincide with a special event.
Reading through a few reviews from actual visitors can also give you a good idea of what to expect.
What to Bring to a Winery Picnic
After you have chosen your location, you will have a better idea of what you should bring and what you can leave at home.
Some wineries let you bring in food, while others expect you to buy from the grounds.
Many wineries also have outdoor picnic areas you can use, but these are usually first come, first serve so it will be wise to have a backup plan.
When packing your picnic, these are some essential items to have:
Waterproof picnic blanket
Even if the winery you choose has outdoor picnic seating, it is not a bad idea to bring your own waterproof picnic blanket.
This can serve as a backup plan in case the tables are full. It also gives you the freedom to throw your blanket where you want it, so you can picnic in an intimate spot away from the crowds and with your favorite view!
This waterproof picnic blanket is lightweight, beautiful, and most importantly easy to carry.
Picnic basket or backpack
A classic picnic basket can add a touch of charm to a winery picnic, but you may not want to carry it around with you all afternoon if you are planning to tour the grounds. Instead, you can choose a backpack to hold your essentials and free up your hands.
This stylish picnic backpack comes with everything you should need for a picnic for four, including an insulated wine carrier, stemware, and even a corkscrew.
If you choose to spend a few nights on the grounds, a wine tray can be perfect for a balcony picnic with a view.
If you are eating outside on the hillside, you won’t want to visit the vineyards by chasing down plates through the grapevines!
Real cloth napkins can give a southern France feel to a winery picnic! Cloth napkins are also more durable than paper when fighting spills and they create less waste.
Whatever you do, don’t leave the corkscrew at home! This leads to wine, wine everywhere but no drops to drink. Many wineries will surely have a gift shop where you can find a corkscrew, but why take a chance?
Other utensils you may want to bring are cheese and olive forks, regular forks, and spoons. Some areas will have knife-carrying restrictions, but cheese spreaders or butter knives are almost always a safe bet.
Unbreakable wine glasses
Unbreakable wine glasses can set your mind at ease when you picnic at a winery. Check out our list of our favorite unbreakable wine glasses including, silicone glasses, BPA-free glasses, and insulated glasses here.
Hand wipes travel in a pocket easily and come in handy when you picnic away from running water.
Choosing Your Menu
When choosing your menu, you can choose simple foods for your picnic that don’t require you to lug a heavy cooler after you. After all, the main event at this picnic is wine!
You want to go in as light as possible, since you will probably park far away from your picnic site, and you want to be free to explore the grounds.
Consider packing foods that are high in protein to counteract the effects of the wine.
Try to avoid strong tasting foods and spicy foods as these can hinder your taste buds from appreciating your wine selections.
Some foods to consider are:
- Cured meats
- Sushi rolls
- French bread
- A veggie tray
- Sweet potato chips
Things to Do at a WInery
So now you’ve made it to the winery with your picnic in tow, but what can you expect to do there after eating?
Here are options that many wineries will have available for you to try:
- Wine tasting
- Take a tour or the vineyard or barrel room
- Make art with wine
- Visit the wine museum
- Create your own wine
- Attend a wine pairing workshop
- Participate in grape harvesting
- Walk a wine trail
The Dos and Don’ts of Winery Etiquette
Do wear dark colors
Choosing outfits with darker colors will allow you to sip and spit alongside the rest without worrying about staining your shirt with wine splashes or crushed grapes.
Don’t wear a fragrance
The wine aroma is a big part of the wine tasting experience so you won’t want to overpower the scent by wearing strong-smelling perfume or cologne.
Also, strong, competing smells can skew your perception of the taste of a wine.
Do Look, Swirl, Smell and Sip
These steps are part of the wine tasting experience, and allow you to slow down and enjoy the experience of drinking wine. They also give you more knowledge about the wine.
For example, if more droplets stick to the side of the wine glass when swirling, this tells you the wine has higher alcohol content.
Don’t drink your wine too fast
Especially if you are new to wine-tasting, make sure you are not drinking too much wine or drinking it too fast. Eating snacks that have protein will also help you stay grounded, while sweet treats may intensify the effects of alcohol.
Do hold your glass by the stem
Holding your glass by the stem gives you a better visual of your wine and keeps it at the correct temperature. While it feels more secure to grip a glass by the bowl, using the stem is a “must” in wine tasting etiquette.
While some wineries allow you to bring your own food, bringing your own wine to a winery is an obvious no-no.
A winery picnic can be a great way to get away and relax with your partner or friends. We hope our ideas help you put the details into place for an enjoyable afternoon in wine country.
Feel free to share your favorite winery picnic experiences in the comments!