I spent this past weekend doing something I haven’t done in many years: wine tasting in a beautiful town called Paso Robles. The occasion was to commemorate a friend’s birthday and my wife and I were invited to join the fun. About ten of us drove the 3+ hours north of Los Angeles, to a land where the grape vines grow.

I’m not a major wine expert. I enjoy drinking it and am trying to educate myself more about it but for the most part, I know what I like and what I don’t like based on the taste and not so much because the harvest was better during a certain year or the bottle had time to breathe before the first glass was poured. And, truth be told, after the fourth or fifth winery visit during the course of a day, it was hard to be too discerning about what we were drinking anyway!

But in between the merriment and clinking of glasses amongst friends, here’s what I did discover after a day of wine tasting: marketing mattered. It seemed as though the more beautiful the vineyard, the more delicious the wine tasted. If our group was warmly welcomed by the host and he/she treated us nicely, we felt more inclined to purchase a bottle. Or six. If the atmosphere of the winery felt more like an elegant, sophisticated soiree versus a loud, raging bachelor party, well that seemed to influence our purchasing power, too.

For me, the experience all circled back to real estate. Presentation truly is everything! Time and time again, if the house I’m selling has been spruced up in even the most seemingly undetectable and subtle ways, potential buyers are (sometimes subconsciously) impressed. Often all it takes is a lone candle flickering on a bookshelf to positively affect the lighting and pleasant aroma of a room, to make a buyer smile as she walks through the front door.

The metamorphosis a house can make after time and effort on the seller’s part is actually pretty measurable. Taking a house that is somewhat cluttered, in a state of disrepair, overly decorated, heavily adorned with personal artifacts… and then transforming that house and making it show worthy: by editing the furniture, removing some of the personal touches, adding a decorative pillow here and there- all of a sudden, the house goes from mess to yes. It is sellable. And not just sellable- it commands more money. I see this every day.

Sampling a variety of delicious blends of fine wine is not so different than looking at a bunch of beautiful houses. After you see so many and for a prolonged period of time, all of which are undoubtedly expensive and beautiful, you start to become numb to their nuances and details. It’s the overall affect that strikes you when you take that first sip or walk through that front door. How are you greeted? Are you welcomed? How do your senses respond to the space? This is, of course, different for everyone. It’s the special something about a home that speaks to you personally; that beckons you to return.

Paso Robles was not just a beautiful town, but the experience itself was a beautiful diversion- it was great to get out of the city for a bit and even greater to spend time with friends, celebrating a very happy occasion over many glasses of truly delicious wine. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone from our group of travelers decided to buy a second home in Paso, amongst the rolling hills and vineyards. It’s impossible not to feel happy surrounded by so much beauty. And, of course, good wine helps, too!