Other than that recent big snowstorm, we’ve had a relatively mild winter thus far. It’s been my kind of winter, with limited time spent shoveling. Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx us.

Despite the relatively mild weather, you just don’t see big crowds in Wine Country this time of year. Once the last pumpkins are picked, the tide of humanity recedes a bit through Thanksgiving and then fades even more as winter settles in. On one hand, I understand it. There are few things more enjoyable than sharing a bottle of wine, overlooking a vineyard on a warm, summer day. You can’t do that — not without bundling up, anyway — this time of year. 

On the other hand, there are many upsides to visiting Wine Country this time of year — especially if you’re in it for the wine itself, not the wine entertainment.

For the next couple of months, tasting rooms are much more civilized places. You won’t hear inebriated partiers demanding that tasting room staff “top them off” as they shove their glasses forward. The sangria-soaked dance parties and DJs are all still a few months away. And if you do come across a bachelorette party, chances are they are true wine lovers — though you may still notice some phallic-shaped accessories.

Just as important, the high-season employees — who often know less about the wine they are pouring than you do — are back in college or working elsewhere, replaced instead by year-round folks who have a passion for wine, know a lot about it and want to share it with you.

Read the rest of this column on northforker.com