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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leave it to me to find a coupon for wine

QUICK!! What are two of my favorite things?
Those who know me for a hot minute know that I love a nice glass of wine... sauvignon blanc to be specific. And those know me for about 2 more minutes know that nothing makes me happier than a coupon or a sale. So combine those two and what do we get? 
Wine made of coupons?? No no silly. 
Wine coupons!! 
And who finds coupons for wine? 

Let me take you back to last weekend when Ken and I were planning a nice jaunt up to Sonoma after a work week for me in silicon valley. Like any sane person, I was doing my winery research, and as I was finishing my thesis writing up my findings, I stumbled across a website that advertised wineries and associated coupons. Peeing my pants with excitement, I cross referenced the highlighted wineries that had a coupon with the ones I had already narrowed down to visit (or potentially visit - using a method we'll investigate later in this post). And yes!... Almost every single winery I had on my list also had a coupon!! I texted Malibu Ken (I think he was asleep, oops) with something like OMG I FOUND COUPONS FOR WINERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The weekend is over, and I'm still kind of excited about it. Or at least excited about the fact that we saved a ton of $$

So let me share the method to my madness.
I first started here at Sonoma Tourist Guide. I found the website simply by typing "Sonoma Coupon" into the google search. As always with searching for coupons, be patient and check out at least 6 or so links to find the best coupons. I think this one was found on attempt #4. Anyway, after I discovered it and realized most of the wineries I had already written down had coupons, I just researched each contender, looking for the same criteria:

  • Tasting fees
  • Winery features (view, picnic area, art gallery etc)
  • Winery feel (stuffy, friendly, eclectic, etc)
  • Tasting room hours
  • Current releases - I mostly like whites so I wanted to make sure the had plenty of those on the tasting menu. You can usually tell by looking at a wineries current releases. If they are low on the whites and have only listed 1 or 2, then you can bet its gonna be slim on the pickins. 
  • Wine prices - I like to buy when I visit a winery, so if the cheapest release is $36 for their Chardonnay, then it's going to turn out to be an expensive visit. I like to keep it close to $20 per bottle, and definitely under $30.
  • Distribution - Because I like to bring home a few bottles (err... 12), I like to only buy them at the winery if I cannot get them at home. It doesn't make sense to schlepp home a bunch of bottles in my luggage that I can get at the local grocery store. 

So how does one find out this info? Well first, I visit the website Wine Country Getaways, which has suggested wine route tours of many California wine country areas. You basically just find the area you are going to and then figure out which trails will meet your needs. For this trip, we knew we were staying in the southern area of Sonoma, so I just looked at the wineries listed on each of those trails. Then I go to each of the winery websites looking for the above qualities, and as one looks good, I write it down. Next I visit and and read the reviews for the wineries. As I'm reading, I am sure to note all the criteria next to the winery's name. You can get a good feel for the atmosphere by reading the reviews. Keep in mind, just because it's got a lot of stars, if it doesn't have the feeling you're after, then it's not a good fit for you. We like laid back wineries, and so even though some of the wineries had really good ratings, if the overall feel was fancy, then it just wasn't going to be my thing. As wineries make the cut, I either star or double star them. Double star means a for sure visit. One star means it needs to be re-reviewed before it goes on the list. Malibu Ken and I reviewed the stared ones and we made our final selections by highlighting them on the map we had printed out. Whew!
It looked like this when we were through.

Lastly, and most importantly, the coupons were printed out from the links to the coupons on the Sonoma Tourist Guide website I found, or I ensured the wineries were on an app that the website mentioned. An App? Yes, an app for wines. I know, this story keeps getting better...
Anyway, the app's name is Winery Finder, and it's AWESOME. 

This is what it looks like (bottom left corner)
The winery app finds where you are and lists all the wineries  with coupon deals

All I had to do was check in on facebook (per the directions on the coupon) and show the coupon to the winery attendant to get a buy one get one free tasting. At first, I kind of felt like a dork doing it (come to think of it, no I didn't, but I guess I should have), but I saw at least 2 people doing the same thing at one of the wineries on Saturday. Overall, we visited 9 wineries and saved $75 on our tastings. And THAT'S no chump change. 

Anyone out there have any tips on how to save on travel or would like to share their winery searching methods?

Peace, Love, and Tannins,


jb said...

Just in case anyone thinks that the level of detail in the planning is exaggerated, I can verify that there was a multi-layered winery selection process involving stars, color-coding and more! Thanks for all your hard work babe :)

Lauren said...

It was well worth the effort ;). Sonoma was one of our best trips yet!