Wine. Snacks. Laughs. A designated driver. What more could you ask for during a wine tour? Well, that's exactly what we got and more during the Heritage Trail Wine Tour with Vino 301 Wine Concierge. I actually had no expectations (because I've learned not to set myself up for disappointment) so I went into this experience with an open mind and spirit. And I'm so glad I did.
Shortly after booking the wine tour, I confirmed with Vino 301 which location I'd like to meet. A few days before the tour, our tour guide, Christina, emailed and confirmed the location and time. We were told to meet at the Safeway in Bowie Town Center where we would be promptly picked up at 10:45 am. Once there (and on time, by the way), we were greeted by our lovely hosts Leslie and Christina. They introduced themselves and gave us an overview of what to expect throughout the day. We drove about 20 minutes to meet the remainder of the group at Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, and off we went to our first stop: Thanksgiving Farm.
I had never heard of Thanksgiving Farm but during the tour, I learned much about the history of their property and winery. Stepping into this winery almost felt like we were walking into our grandmother's house for a wine tour...which was a good thing! It is a charming, family-owned winery that specializes in European-style wines. Their signature wine? The Franc Blanc, which is a light white wine with hints of apple, pear and citrus. I also enjoyed their 2011 Meritage. Co-owner Maureen Heimbuch walked us through their wine making process and honestly, I was impressed with her knowledge base and matter-of-fact storytelling. I liked Thanksgiving Farm for its intimacy and hands-on approach with their guests.
Our next stop was Running Hare Vineyard, which was about 30 minutes from Thanksgiving Farm and is a much larger operation. Their property is huge, with both wine and beer tasting bars, picnic tables, an area for music and dancing, and a food truck in the parking lot. This wasn't as intimate as Thanksgiving Farm; however, if you're looking for a lively atmosphere with music, food, and friends, Running Hare is your place. Two of our group members said they frequented Running Hare and even enjoyed their beer offerings just as much as their wine. While we had both wine and beer tastings, Leslie and Christina also gave us time to roam the property and stray from the group a little. While we enjoyed our group members, it was nice being able to steal a few private moments just between my friend and me.
After about an hour or so at Running Hare, Leslie and Christina corralled the group back on to the bus because sadly, it was the end of our tour. My friend and I couldn't stop raving about what a great day it was and how we have to recommend the tour to everyone we know! So based on my day with Vino 301, here are 5 reasons you should absolutely go on a wine tour with them:
1. You can drink until your heart's content.
I mean, isn't this the most important reason? Not only can you sample as many beers and wines as your little heart desires, but you don't have to drink and drive. Vino 301 has taken care of this problem for you. Depending on the size of your party, they'll pick you right up at your front door. Celebrating a bachelorette or birthday? They'll pick up the entire party from someone's house, a hotel or anywhere you want them to. And even if you don't have a large party, you are still chauffeured (in style, I might add) to two or three wineries (depending on your itinerary) after you're picked up from a meeting point. You have to drive home from the meeting point, but by this time you should be sobered up.
2. You will visit Maryland wineries you may not be familiar with.
I've never heard of Thanksgiving Farm, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience a local, family-owned small business right in my own (figurative) backyard. Vino 301 has relationships with most wineries in the state, so they can customize an itinerary based on your group's preferences, or you can let them do the heavy lifting and choose your itinerary for you.
3. You'll learn so much about wine.
I've been on wine tours in some of the best wine regions around the world. Cape Town, Finger Lakes, and Santa Barbara to be exact. And I still managed to learn more about wine thanks to my wine tour with Vino 301. If you know me, you know I love learning new things, so this was a plus for me.
4. You can meet like-minded people and make new friends.
Let's face it. If you're on a wine tour with strangers, you probably have things in common (barring they voted for Donald Trump, but I digress). I had a great time getting to know my wine tour-mates and fellow bloggers. We connected via social media so hopefully we can hang out again in the future!
5. It was a great time!
Everyone can go to a wine festival, or tour a winery on their own, but when's the last time you didn't have to lift a finger to have a good time? Everything is literally taken care for you with Vino 301. Transportation, snacks, wine, and food (if you spring extra for it!). It really doesn't get any better.
I'd highly suggest a wine tour with Vino 301 Wine Concierge, and I'm not just saying that because they sponsored this post. I plan to take another in the near future so maybe I'll see you there. Check out all of their offerings at vino301.com and be sure to tell them we sent you!
P.S. You can be Bad & Boozy too: shop.willdrinkfortravel.com.
Check out more pictures from our day with Vino 301 below!
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