Passport Events...   Let's Go Have Fun!

One of the reasons we added this section on passport events is because they are and awesome way to experience and get to know wine. Additionally, very few people actually know about them!  My wife and I have been going to Passport weekend s for a little over ten years now, and I can honestly say that they have been the single best source of wine education we have had the pleasure of having. 

The Scoop:

What exactly is a wine passport event (I am sure you are now asking)?  Well, simply put, it is a way that a wine region can attract a large number of people in any one single weekend.  This is how they work.  A decent size region will have approximately 20 to 40 wineries that will participate.  Attendees will sign up for the event, usually several weeks in advance, and will receive their tickets in the mail (or print online). It is important to sign up early, as many events will sell out. The cost of these events range from $50. to $130. for the entire weekend (still a great deal when you consider how much wine and food you get).   There are also special deals for ‘Sunday only’ as well as deals for the designated driver (designated drivers can eat the food, but are not allowed to drink).  The event will usually last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Friday being a half day.

Attendees are assigned a starting winery, wherein they pick up their passport (a small passport looking booklet with the participating wineries), a wrist band and an etched wine glass to use for the weekend (usually with the event name, date and some sort of artwork).  From that point forward, throughout the weekend, the wristband and the wineglass serve as identification that you are a paid participant.  After checking in at their first designated winery, participants can then proceed to any winery that is participating in the event (you usually also get a map of the participating wineries as well as what type of wine, and food they are serving).  In turn, the wineries then offer an unlimited amount of tastings throughout the weekend. There is also very little, if any, pressure to purchase anything.

Awesome Food:

Often, the wineries will also serve food that will complement the wine that they are serving!  Many of the events will also have a theme.  Some may be barrel events (serving both bottled and barrel tastings) wherein they sample futures straight out of the barrel. Some are oriented around the time of year, such as a harvest event.  We even attend an event each year that is called the cookbook event.  We get a hardback cookbook with recipes of dishes that the wineries are serving.  Then, throughout the event, we follow the cookbook as we move from winery to winery. 


Here is some advice when planning your passport weekend:  Get your tickets early, reserve a bed and breakfast for either you and your significant other, or two or three couples. Accommodations will book up early, so plan ahead to set yourself up for an awesome weekend.  The end result will be that, after a while, you will get to experience a wide range of wines, with regularity, and will begin to understand the distinction between the blends and varietals.

Finding The Events:

This is the easy part. Simply look online under words such as 'Passport wine event' or 'Wine Weekend' with a specific region that you are wanting to explore. Keep in mind that a 'region' might be someplace as small as a specific valley. We live in Northern California. There are around 20 regions within a 100 mile radius of Napa alone! After a while, you will not only begin to recognize the type of wine that you like best, but region as well. The same varietal of wine will taste very different from region to region.  Cheers!


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