Select Traveler

MAY-JUN 2017

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48 M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 N othing says luxury in travel like good wine. If you have sophisticated travelers among your membership, chances are that some of them enjoy wine and wine culture. For these travelers, a wine tour might be the most exciting trip you could offer. And wine-focused tours might be clever ways to entice some of your members that haven't traveled with you before to give your trips a chance. To give you some insight on how to put together wine tours that will win with your travelers, we spoke with representatives of two high-quality wine regions — New York's Finger Lakes and Oregon's Willamette Valley — and gathered five tips for helping you plan a wine trip for your group. 1) FIND AN INVITING WINE REGION TO VISIT. For many people, a wine vacation means a pil- grimage to Napa Valley in California or to the French countryside. And although these are world- class wine destinations, trips to these areas can be expensive and crowded. So before taking the leap to California or Europe, consider visiting one of the other wonderful wine regions in the United States. Oregon's Willamette Valley, which stretches roughly from Portland to Eugene, is a great West Coast alternative to Napa or Sonoma. "We're home to a little over 500 wineries in the valley, and most of them are pinot noir producers," said Becca Barnhart, public relations and marketing manager for the Willamette Valley Visitors Associa- tion. "We have wine throughout the entire region. C A R E E R C O R N E R breathes It's really different, and there's wonderful geographic diversity." e Finger Lakes region of central New York is another in- teresting wine destination, featuring more than 130 wineries, many that sit overlooking the lakes. "e Cayuga Lake Wine Trail was the first wine trail in Amer- ica," said Laury Poland, president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Alliance. "at lake is under 40 miles from tip to tip, so traversing the trail is not very time con- suming." 2) PLAN WITH EXPERTS. e country's most prominent wine destinations have quite a bit of infrastruc- ture dedicated to moving tourists from win- ery to winery. But you don't need a wine train or a commercial wine tour company to give your group an excellent wine experience. Working with local tourism offices and visitors bureaus will help you put togeth- er itineraries that include the best stops in the area and identify which wineries are well equipped to work with groups. "Sometimes smaller wineries don't al- low large buses, because they don't want a 54-person group to overwhelm their tast- ing room," Poland said. "If you have more than eight people, you need to call ahead. If you go on our website, you can look at maps of the lakes and plot out the wineries you want to visit." In Oregon, the Willamette Valley Visitors Association has pro- duced themed itineraries and maps, such as "Long Weekend in Ore- gon Wine Country," that offer information about wineries, and ideal timing and routing; that way, travelers can spend their time enjoying the wineries instead of organizing their trip. Top: A New York vineyard, courtesy Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Alliance Bottom: The founders of Oregon White Truffle Oil, courtesy Oregon Wine Country BY BRIAN JEWELL try a tour that interest tours WINE TOURS SPECIAL DREAM destinations

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