When we first moved up here to the Pacific Northwest, one of our goals was to become more knowledgeable about wine.

Not just drinking it. We’ve got that down pat.

We also wanted to learn more about the process, what it takes to start a vineyard, what it takes to make it successful. What’s the difference between a Cabernet and Merlot? What’s the difference between a pinot noir made in Oregon and one made in California? What’s the difference between wine from the US compared with wines made in other parts of the world?

So we’ve set our sights on visiting as many wineries as we can. And we join one or two (or three) along the way as we find the good stuff – the wines we just can’t live without.

There’s an adage out there that says “knowledge is power.” I feel that knowledge is only a small part of the equation. Equally important is the process of learning. It’s the experiences you have while increasing your knowledge along the way.

Interested in wine pairings: Pairing Wine With Tofu and Other Vegetarian Meals

The New York Times had a section on Wealth this past weekend.

If you count yourself among the richest in the world, this is where your interests lie:

  • Philanthropy
  • Travel
  • Art
  • Fashion and style
  • Politics
  • Wine and spirits

Yep, the number six item on the list is wine.

There’s a lot more to it than red or white. The Business Insider has a great beginners guide to wine that will point you in the right direction if you want to learn more about the process.

When you visit a winery, you learn from the best in the business. The people that work at a winery love wine. They wouldn’t work there otherwise. And when you visit the smaller wineries you’re likely to find here in Oregon and Washington, you’re also likely to get personalized tours and services.

Last year we attended a private tour and wine pairing party in which we were one of two couples. We had the attention of the winemaker and the tasting room lead for a couple of hours as we wove through the grapevines and into the production facilities, before heading into the tasting room for a sampling. (A shout out to Duck Pond – we’ll be members for a long time.)

Of course, that doesn’t stop us from going big too. Chateau Ste Michelle has been one of our favorite wines for years. I love, love, LOVE their Riesling, and have several bottles of it at any time. When you tour their winery, you’re likely to tag along with a dozen or two potential new friends. Spend the day, and you can do everything from having a picnic in the gardens, shop their store, before heading back outside for a concert in their event center.

Too often, we sit down for dinner, and we don’t understand the wine list in front of us. It can be overwhelming, with so many different choices on the list.

But learning more about wine builds confidence. It gives you building blocks to become a more knowledgeable, more well-rounded person. Whether you choose to network with highly successful people, throw a dinner party with well-educated friends, or merely have a drink at a wine bar while traveling for business, a little knowledge can go a long ways.

And it tastes incredible too.