Wine Country Etiquette and Tasting Tips
- Always have a designated driver. Many wineries will have refreshments just for designated drivers.
- Plan ahead of time and select three to five wineries for a single day tour. Picking a few that are near each other will help with a successful tour. Don't forget the wineries in the outlying areas.
- Be aware of individual winery hours of business.
- Be sure to drink lots of water during the day to prevent dehydration.
- You do not have to drink each entire taste of wine. If you’re tasting 5 or 6 wines at 4 wineries for the day it will all add up. Take a couple of sips and pour the rest out into the spittoon. Typically, wineries serve one-ounce pours. As a reference point, there are four to six ounces of wine in a typical glass.
- Please be patient when entering a crowded tasting room. The staff will do their best to serve you as they can.
- Please be respectful of your confirmed appointment times. Take a few minutes to understand the length of time from one winery to another when mapping your day.
- Bring the proper identification. Winery staff will check if you are of age.
- If you are bringing children on a wine tour with you, make sure to keep an eye on them so they do not disrupt other guests. Bring a toy or game to occupy your child and a snack or drink.
- Bring a sweater or jacket as certain areas of the winery make be kept cold.
- Please check with the wineries ahead of time to see if they are dog friendly.
- Do not leave purchased wines in a hot car. Bring a cooler and ice packs inside.
- Do not leave pets or children in hot cars while tasting or touring at wineries.
- If you loved the wines, take advantage of joining the wine club for discounts and special future bottles.
- Many of the small wineries don’t work with distributors so if you find wines that you like, you should purchase them from the tasting room because you are likely not find them in stores.
- When driving the Hill Country, watch for cyclists and be courteous.
- Don’t wear perfume or cologne. It will interfere with your ability to smell and taste the wines.
- When tasting, swirl the wine in your glass and look at its color.
- Before taking a sip, put your nose inside the glass and take a deep breath and notice the aromas.
- As you take a sip of wine, notice how it feels and tastes in your mouth at first and then swish it around on your tongue before swallowing. Your opinion of the taste may change, so do not rush to swallow. Always take another taste, the first might be affected by your previous wine or food.
- Eat crackers, bread and cheese between tastings to cleanse your palate.
- If you don’t know the difference between wine varieties, don’t be afraid to ask.
- If you have questions or don't understand the terminology, winemakers and tasting room staff are happy to explain.
- If you do not like a certain wine, do not make negative comments about it. Simply state that it is not your favorite, and taste another one.
Frequently Asked Questions about Texas Hill Country Wineries
Q: Who is THCW and what do you offer?
A: Texas Hill Country Wineries (THCW) is a non-proﬁt marketing and promotions association for 40+ Texas Hill Country member wineries. We offer self-guided, ticketed wine trails as well as other THCW sponsored events throughout the year.
Q: Does THCW host winery or vineyard tours? Do the Member wineries host winery or vineyard tours?
A: Texas Hill Country Wineries is not a tour company, however the member Wineries may offer tours of their winery/vineyard on select days, times and for a nominal fee. We suggest that you contact each speciﬁc member Winery, or review the member Winery’s website, as to winery tour offerings. If you wish to tour multiple THCW wineries, we suggest contacting one of the Limo & Tour companies listed on our Eat, Sleep, Travel page. Want to plan your own winery tour? You can by using THCW’s interactive Map.
Q: What does the wine trail consist of?
A: The wine trails are self-guided, ticketed events among our 40+ member Wineries. Wineries offer complimentary tastes & discounts to customers who purchase tickets to a THCW sponsored wine trail. During a THCW sponsored wine trail, THCW may also have gifts and souvenirs.
Q: What time do the wine trails begin/end?
A: Each wine trail has designated start and end dates. Please refer to the wine trail details on the THCW website. In regards to the member winery’s hours of operation during a wine trail, each individual winery will open/close according to their own prescribed business hours. Please see the Wineries page for each winery’s regular business hours.
Q: Where do the wine trails go?
A: The Texas Hill Country Wineries area covers Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels. All 40+ member wineries participate on the trail, so you can visit as many as you like, in any order you like.
Want to plan your own winery tour? You can by using THCW’s interactive Map.
Q: Will I be walking from winery to winery?
A: No. While some of our wineries may be close enough to walk, they are located on busy highways. Winery distances range from 1 mile apart to 130 miles apart. Driving is typically done by the wine trail participant.
Q: Can I visit member wineries during non-trail weekends/events?
A: Yes. Wineries are open year round and open to the public. Before you embark on a self-guided tour, you are encouraged to verify the days/times that the member Wineries are open.
Q: Do I need tickets?
A: Tickets are only necessary if you wish to participate in the scheduled wine trails or other THCW sponsored event. Otherwise, member Wineries are open to the public so you do not need a ticket to visit.
Q: Are my trail tickets good for multiple days and multiple wineries or just one day and one winery?
A: Yes. Wine trail tickets are good for all published days of the trail and for all 40+ participating wineries.
Q: I’m unable to use my wine trail ticket(s)? Can I get a refund? Can you sell them for me?
A: THCW pre-purchased tickets are non-refundable and we are unable to sell them on your behalf. We recommend that you ﬁnd a family member, friend, or neighbor that may be able to enjoy the wine trail/event.
Q: I didn’t get to use my wine trail ticket during the scheduled trail timeframe; can I redeem outside of the wine trail or obtain a refund?
A: Unfortunately, pre-purchased wine trail/event tickets can only be used during the prescribed timeframes and are non-refundable.
Q: How do I get my tickets? Mail? Email?
A: Tickets are to be printed at the time of purchase. You will also receive a conﬁrmation email from THCW with a link to your tickets to print at a later date if need be.
Q: Can I buy tickets at your ofﬁce, over the phone or at a member Winery?
A: No. All ticket sales are on the THCW website only.
Q: Do I have to show my ticket at each Member winery in order to take advantage of the trail/event specials?
A: Having your printed ticket on hand when you visit the member Winery will help expedite service. In order to conﬁrm your visit, each member Winery will need to stamp your printed ticket. If you do not have a convenient way to print the ticket, use your smart phone to be able to show the member Winery your purchased ticket.
Q: When will tickets for the trails be available?
A: About 6 weeks prior to each trail. Wine Lovers Trail- mid-December, Wine & Wildflower Trail, mid-February, Texas Wine Month Trail- mid-August, Holiday Wine Trail- mid-October.
Q: Do you offer gift certiﬁcates?
A: No. But you can buy tickets as gifts by putting the receivers name in the “mail to” box.
Q: I will be in town this weekend and am looking for winery events.
A: Currently, THCW has four wine trails a year: February, April, October and December. Tickets for wine trail events are typically posted for sale six weeks prior to the beginning of the wine trail. All wine trail tickets must be pre-purchased at THCW. You are encouraged to purchase wine trail tickets as early as possible, because wine trails sell out quickly. For winery-sponsored events, please check the Winery Events page on our website.
Q: Do I need to make reservations to visit THCW wineries?
A: In general, no reservations are needed, however we strongly suggest verifying the member Winery’s day/times of operation as well as contacting the member Wineries you plan to visit if your group is 8 or more guests.
Q: We are looking to visit in November through February (winter); will the member wineries be open?
A: Yes. THCW wineries are open year round.
Q: What is the best time of year to visit the member Wineries?
A: It depends on what you are looking for: Winter is a little slower and less busy in the tasting rooms. In the Spring, the vines are starting to bloom while in the summer, the vines are green and harvest is beginning. Fall is cooler and there are many winery events happening.
Q: I have a group of people for a special party (i.e. bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, family reunion, corporate party). What do you offer?
A: THCW does not offer or plan parties. We suggest contacting the member Wineries who host Weddings & More to inquire as to their availability and venue options or contact the wineries you plan to visit about their smaller group policies.
Q: What are your rates and availability for weddings, rehearsal dinners, etc.?
A: THCW does not host weddings, rehearsal dinners, etc. Please check out the Weddings & More page on our website for a list of member Wineries who do host weddings and other private events.
Q: I want to go to a Grape Stomp. When is yours?
A: THCW does not host a grape stomp, but a number of our member Wineries do. We suggest you check out the Winery Events page and use the sort by Grape Stomp option.
Q: Is THCW a winery?
A: No, Texas Hill Country Wineries is a non-proﬁt association used to market and promote our member Wineries.
Q: Can we buy wine from THCW?
A: No, THCW is not a winery and we do not produce nor sell wine. Each member Winery sells their own wines.
Q: Does THCW distribute wines? Where?
A: No, THCW is not a winery and we do not produce or sell wine. A number of our member Wineries do distribute. We suggest you contact the member Wineries directly as to where and which wines are distributed.
Q: I bought a bottle of wine from a member Winery opened it and it is bad. Am I able to obtain a refund or another bottle?
A: THCW is not able to refund bottles of wine sold by a member Winery. Should you have a concern about a bottle purchased, you will need to contact the member Winery directly as to their policy regarding refunds and/or returns.
Q: Do you have wine barrels for sale?
A: THCW is not a winery and therefore does not have wine barrels to sell. However, a number of our member Wineries do sell used barrels. We suggest you contact the member Wineries individually as to availability and cost.
Q: We want to visit your winery/vineyard?
A: Since THCW is not a winery or vineyard, we do not have a physical winery or vineyard location. . Please visit the Wineries page of our website for individual winery information as to which wineries have vineyards on site.
Q: Do you do gift certiﬁcates for the member Wineries?
A: No. Each member Winery is an independent business of THCW. We suggest you contact the member Wineries directly as to gift certiﬁcates offered.
Q: My band would like to play at your winery. How do I go about booking?
A: Since THCW is not a winery, we do not host events. Each member Winery hosts their own events and will need to be contacted directly.
Q: How do I become a vendor at your wine trails or THCW sponsored events?
A: Currently our wine trails or events do not host vendors. Member Wineries may host vendors for winery-sponsored events and will need to be contacted directly.
Q: Can you come pour wine at our event?
A: Since THCW is not a winery, we do not pour at events. Member Wineries will pour their own wines at wine-trail events.
Q: I want to work at a winery/vineyard, do you have any openings?
A: Since THCW is not a winery or vineyard, we do not have these types of positions available. Please contact member Wineries individually for any openings that they may have.
Q: I would like to advertise my business on your website. Since I have your link on my site, can you reciprocate and put my link on your site?
A: THCW does not trade links. If you would like to advertise on our site or in our brochure, please send an email through our Contact page.
Q: Can you please mail me a brochure? I only need one.
A: THCW only ships boxes of brochures to area businesses such as Chamber of Commerce’s, Visitor’s Centers, local hotels, and member Wineries. Please ﬁll out the Brochure Order Form.
Consumers looking for a single brochure and information please check out our website. The information in the brochure and more are available there, including a printable map. We suggest picking up a brochure at your first member Winery stop or at any of our advertisers. Also available,check out the downloadable version of the brochure.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver.