A Comparison of the Top Winery Review & Trip Planning Websites

The rapidly growing domestic wine industry and an increased reliance on user reviews has spawned numerous websites designed to help wine tourists determine which wineries to visit. These, mostly upstart, sites are not only competing against each other but also against sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google.

To help users navigate this crowded field, we have conducted an assessment of the top ten sites that allow users to review and rate wineries. Due to the extremely large number or sites that focus on one particular region or state, we limited our assessment to sites that covered more than one state.

Winery review sites generally fall into one of two categories. They either cover a large number of wineries (breadth) at a low level of detail (depth) or a small number of wineries in great detail. In other words, sites that provide a nearly comprehensive list of wineries seldom provide detailed winery descriptions and reviews, and sites that do provide detailed winery descriptions and reviews only list a small percentage of the wineries that actually exist. We used the number of California and Napa wineries listed on each site as an indicator of each site's winery breadth.

AmericanWineryGuide.com: AmericanWineryGuide.com launched in 2012 and was created by Jim Finley and Tim Donahoe. The site's breadth is excellent covering all fifty states with 3200 California wineries (1948 providing tastings) and 900+ Napa wineries (445 providing tastings). Users can review wineries and provide a 1 to 5 score for service, ambiance/view, red wine, white wine, and overall impression. Unlike most other wine tourism sites, users can search and sort using visitor ratings. Similar to Wandering-Wino.com, AmericanWineryGuide.com is one of the few sites that provides editorial reviews and ratings and currently has more than 130 reviews. The feature/amenity search, using over 30 criteria and updated daily, is one of best, but the site provides relatively short winery descriptions. One of the most unique features of the site is the wine rating filter which aggregates over 50,000 ratings from all of the leading wine critics and wine publications and provides the user the ability to identify the wineries that make the highest rated wines, based on variety, within user-specified price ranges.

Wandering-Wino.com: Wandering-Wino.com, founded by Shawn Burgert, covers all fifty states within the U.S. and has great winery breadth with 2280 California wineries and 577 Napa wineries. Unfortunately, no information other than the winery’s address and contact information is available for wineries that have not been reviewed by the site, i.e. approximately 97% of the wineries listed on the site have very basic winery profiles. The site provides the ability for users to assign a 1 to 100 score for overall impression, atmosphere, staff knowledge, staff friendliness, wine quality, and value. The average user score is displayed but it does not appear that individual users ratings are displayed. In addition, unlike many of the other wine tourism sites, wandering-wino.com provides an editorial review and rating. As of August 2012, a total of 78 wineries had been reviewed and 64 of them were located in California. Users can search and sort using visitor and editor ratings. The site has a limited winery amenity/feature search and does not display search results on a map, though users can view a map on the winery's profile page.

CaliforniaWineryAdvisor.com, OregonWineryAdvisor.com, WashingtonWineryAdvisor.com: CaliforniaWineryAdvisor.com, one of the older wine tourism sites, focuses on a relatively small number of wineries (892 California wineries and 142 Napa wineries) but has one of the best amenity/feature searches using over 40 different criteria. The site provides the ability for users to review wineries using 1 to 4 bottles, and users can rate the winery across several areas including staff knowledge & friendliness; amenities, comfort & cleanliness; value; wine quality; and overall impressions. Unfortunately, users can not search for wineries, or sort the result of winery searches, using these ratings. In addition, wineries are not displayed on a map, though users can locate an individual winery's location from its profile page.

NapaMapa.com: NapaMapa.com, created by Matt Whorton, Jack Sheeran and Adam Herman, covers both Oregon and California and lists approximately half of the existing Napa wineries with tasting available and one third of the existing California wineries. The site contains a limited number of user reviews, and site users are not able to search for wineries based on visitor ratings, but can sort results based on visitor ratings. The site displays wineries' Yelp ratings. Winery descriptions are generally short. The site provides a good winery amenity/feature search and displays the results on a map.

WineryPatron.com: WineryPatron.com, launched in 2012, covers California and New York and with its very small number of wineries but very in-depth descriptions, is clearly focusing on depth (vice breadth) at this point. The site lists 60 California wineries and 21 Napa wineries. The site does not provide editorial reviews of the wineries but does provide long, well-written winery descriptions. Interestingly, users cannot provide reviews of wineries but can provide a 1 to 5 star rating, whether they are signed in or not. The site also seems to have a good list of features/amenities for each winery but does not provide the user with the ability to search for wineries based on these features/amenities. Unlike most other wine tourism sites, WineryPatron.com does not display the wineries on a map and does not provide the ability to create itineraries, though users can save wineries to their "favorites".

WineMaps.com: Winemaps.com, founded by Ryan Ornelas, covers both U.S. and foreign wineries, but only 90 California and 5 Napa wineries are listed. Users can provide winery reviews but can not search, or sort, using those reviews. There is no feature/amenity search and the winery descriptions are either provided by the winery or copied from their website. Wineries are displayed on a map, but users cannot create itineraries.

CatchWine.com: CatchWine.com focuses on breadth over depth, covering all 50 states and listing 2141 California wineries. Unfortunately, users are not able to search for wineries within a particular region. Users can rate wineries based on wine, winery and ambiance, but can not search for wineries based on these ratings. The site provides almost no information about the wineries other than their location and hours. Users are not able to create an itinerary but can create a journal of their wine travels.

Yelp.com: To find winery reviews in Yelp.com, users search for wineries near a location, such as Napa, CA. The site has exceptional breadth with a large number of reviews for 460 Napa wineries. Winery descriptions are minimal and, if present, are supplied by the winery. Users can assign 1 to 5 stars to a winery but cannot search using these ratings - though they can sort using the ratings. Yelp.com provides very limited feature/amenity search capabilities and only 10 wineries at a time are displayed on the map. Users cannot create itineraries but can bookmark wineries to add them to a list.

TripAdvisor.com: Winery reviews are located under "things to do" and are listed in a group with "factories" and "breweries". TripAdvisor.com covers all the states but less than 100 Napa wineries were listed. Users can provide a 1 to 5 rating and can sort by ratings but cannot search using the ratings. There are no winery descriptions and limited mapping of wineries. Users cannot search by feature/amenity nor create itineraries.

Google.com: To find winery reviews on Google.com, users can search for "California wineries" or "Napa wineries" and then click on the map. For both searches, Google.com listed over 6000 results. Visitors can provide reviews using a 0 to 3 scale for quality, appeal and service, but users can not search for wineries (but can sort) based on these ratings. Google.com does not provide the ability to search for wineries based on features and amenities but does provide high quality mapping and itinerary functionality.

Published: Aug. 28, 2012

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