There are various levels of understanding to all subjects, including wine. You may know little about wine, a moderate amount or be an "expert." Your wine knowledge may derive from a book, an instructor, numerous tastings, or a combination of elements. Another source of information is travel to a wine region, which is an excellent way to gain further knowledge and understanding. With the advent of harvest season, this is a perfect time to visit a wine region, to immerse yourself in grapes and fermentation.
Though it may seem self-evident, it bears stating to ensure clarity: Visiting a wine region will likely deepen your comprehension of wine. To meet the wine makers, to walk through their vineyards, to immerse yourself in the region's culture, all can contribute to a deeper appreciation and knowledge of the area and its wines. To have the opportunity to question the staff of the winery, to obtain answers to matters which might have previously confused or puzzled you, can be invaluable. A winery's website may present their brief history and philosophy, but that is most often only the bare bones. There is much richer detail to be found by speaking directly to the people of the winery.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
I strongly encourage all wine lovers to visit wine regions, so that you can gain better comprehension and knowledge. Wine writers are especially urged to do so, to give you a better perspective. Travel can be a great experience for everyone, to broaden anyone's horizons. You could visit a Caribbean island, and sit on the beach all day relaxing. Or you could take a more educational vacation and visit places such as Spain, Oregon, Croatia, Paso Robles, Argentina, or Long Island, and explore their wines, cuisine, and more. If wine is your passion, then such a journey should call to your heart.
Before you visit a wine region, be sure to do some prior research, so that you aren't a blank slate when you arrive. You can then arrive with more informed questions, ones that cannot be answered simply by visiting the winery's website. When you get to the region, be proactive, asking questions, participating in as much as you can. If you are offered the opportunity to experience something different, like harvesting grapes or tasting something unusual, then take it. Try new foods, learn local customs, and have fun. Seize the moment and squeeze every ounce of knowledge and experience out of your trip.
There is no need to worry if your traveling budget is limited, just seek out wine regions and wineries more local to you. Every state in the U.S. now produces wine, and you are likely within driving distance of at least a few of them. That will give you options, and then you can save up for a larger trip out of the country, or even just to a different state. For example, Massachusetts has 30+ wineries, and many wineries from the rest of the New England states are only two to three hours away. The New York wineries are a slightly longer trip, but still very doable.
If you have visited a wine region, do you feel that it led to a better understanding of the region and its wines? What wine regions would you especially recommend?