5 must-haves for your next trip to wine country

August marks the start of harvest season in most Northern Hemisphere wine regions, which means wine lovers everywhere are gearing up for a visit to their favorite wine region – or an adventure. in a new region that they have not yet explored this fall.

As a Californian and an avid explorer of wine regions around the world, I have come to relish the unique blend of recreation and adventure that comes with wine tourism. Sprawling vineyards punctuated with tasting rooms and cozy farmhouses create an atmosphere that invites you to slow down and soak it all up. Meanwhile, tasting locally produced wines and learning about local geography and culture motivates you to explore as much as you can on your trip.

The wine region is not only a place for tasting unforgettable wines and dishes, but also for hiking, biking and strolling through picturesque vineyards. As a visitor, there are a few essentials you should bring with you to ensure you can get the most out of your visit while you’re there, and safely take a few souvenir bottles home to share with friends. Keep scrolling for five must-haves that anyone traveling to wine country should absolutely bring.

Monkkino Protective Travel Wine Bottle Bags

Courtesy of Amazon

Growing up in California and coming from a family of wine drinkers, I often find myself packing a bottle or two to take home with me after a visit home. That’s rarely enough to fill an entire case of wine, so I usually leave that at home and just pack the bottles straight into my checked bag.

In the dark days before discovering these inflatable wine bags, I would simply wrap bottles in sweaters and pray to Bacchus that my clothes wouldn’t be covered in wine stains and broken glass when I got back to the House.

Now I just throw a few inflatable wine bags in my suitcase before I leave and stuff the bottles in there for the trip home. It costs less than $10 for a set of eight bags and the hand pump to inflate them. Each bag is perfectly sized to hold a bottle of wine, although they do stretch a bit to fit slightly larger sparkling wine bottles.

Once inside, the inflated top folds down to enclose the bottle in a shock-resistant padded case. Then you can just put them in your checked baggage and pack them as normal. I’ve also found them to be handy for other valuables you might want to pack (like glassware).

While a full travel wine case offers more protection and is best if you know you’ll be carrying six or more bottles with you, these affordable bags are perfect for short trips or for squeezing an extra bottle or two into your luggage. if you have fulfilled your case, but continue to discover new “must-have” wines during your tasting tour.

To buy: amazon.com, $9 for set of 8

VinGardeValise Travel wine box

Courtesy of Amazon

This reinforced hard case is filled with high density foam inserts that can hold up to 12 bottles. There are also additional inserts that you can swap out to pack wine glasses, spirits, beer, or magnum wine bottles.

Most importantly, the case is designed to be light enough that even if you fully load it with 12 bottles, the entire case will still weigh less than 50 pounds. So, no need to worry about overweight baggage fees! Of course, this is based on a standard bottle weight of 3.2 pounds, so if you’re packing magnums or other non-standard bottles, you might still want to check the weight before heading to the airport.

As impeccably crafted as this travel wine case is, its price is definitely worth it. So if you don’t think you need the 12-bottle capacity, you might want to opt for a smaller, more affordable case like this padded six-bottle tote that’s just $28 on Amazon. It’s not padded or durable enough to check in on its own, but it’s small enough to fit in your checked bag and provides enough padding for your bottles to fit safely.

To buy: amazon.com, $369

IPOW Winged Corkscrew

Courtesy of Amazon

As someone who’s had a handful of corkscrews confiscated by the TSA over the years, I finally got serious and studied the rules on flying with corkscrews. It turns out that only certain corkscrews are prohibited. These happened to be precisely the cheapest ones I kept buying to replace the confiscated ones: the versatile folding corkscrews that often come with a little blade that detaches from the handle so you can cut the paper from foil from a wine bottle. This blade is what you can’t bring on a plane.

Even when traveling with a TSA-compliant corkscrew, however, I’ve always had the occasion of a grumpy agent confiscating it anyway, so I recommend leaving your high-end electric corkscrews at the house and take a cheap (but bladeless) corkscrew specifically for when traveling.

My favorite is a winged corkscrew like this IPOW bottle opener because it’s easy to use, doesn’t take up too much room in your bag, and is still affordable, so your trip won’t be ruined if it’s confiscated or lost. on a wine tasting tour.

To buy: amazon.com, $12 (originally $15)

OXO Steel Expanding Wine Stoppers

Courtesy of Amazon

No trip to wine country is complete without an impromptu picnic where you open some of the bottles you’ve picked up so far. While you can usually put the cork back in a bottle if you don’t finish it, that won’t create an effective seal.

Silicone stoppers like these OXO Steel Expanding Wine Stoppers not only preserve carbonation and freshness, they also prevent leaks. Once inserted, the silicone expands against the walls of the bottle to create a fit so precise you can store the bottle lying down without it leaking. I have done a few bike rides in wine country and can say that carrying open bottles in a bike basket on dirt roads without seal caps is not recommended.

To buy: amazon.com, $12 for a set of two

Simple and modern wine goblet and bottle set

Courtesy of Amazon

While wine corks are handy for reds (or when you’re near a fridge), if you’re taking a wine that needs to be chilled, you’ll need an insulated bottle that can keep it chilled while you are exploring. For that, I love this Simple Modern bottle and tumbler set. The double-walled insulated bottle is the right size to hold an entire 750 milliliter bottle of wine and the matching tumblers are also insulated so your wine is kept cool in the bottle and after pouring. The tumblers also come with spill-resistant snap-on lids so you can take a boozy hike through vine-draped hills without leaving a trail of spilled wine behind.

To buy: amazon.com, $45

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