Just had some friends return from Napa and were quite disappointed. Many of the tasting rooms were charging $25 and would not put the price towards a purchase.
Anyone else had this experience?

They spent most of there time in Sonoma after that and had a great time where thngs were most in line with common sense!

I just returned from the Willamette Valley where we had a great tiem and meet some wonderful individuals at the wineries. Prices and the wines were excellent.
Original Post
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
Let me guess. They just randomly wandered around popping into whatever tasting room, bellied up to the bar and said "yes" they'd like to taste?


Joe, with all due respect, isn't that what you're supposed to do in Napa? I'd bet a minority of the tasters that come through the Valley are like us: wine list members who call ahead, in some instances, and make appointments to taste and discuss wine with genuine interest. Many people go, and should go, to taste on a whim at any winery with open doors. I think charging $25 to pour a few wines without crediting toward a certain purchase (sure, maybe not just for one bottle buys, but for a certain amount) is aggrivating.
quote:
Originally posted by ktf:
Just had some friends return from Napa and were quite disappointed. Many of the tasting rooms were charging $25 and would not put the price towards a purchase.
Anyone else had this experience?

They spent most of there time in Sonoma after that and had a great time where thngs were most in line with common sense!

I just returned from the Willamette Valley where we had a great tiem and meet some wonderful individuals at the wineries. Prices and the wines were excellent.


What wineries specifically did your friends have trouble? Just curious because my wife and I are planning to go sometime next year.
BRR, if you're in the majority then yes, that's what you're supposed to do. Just be prepared to pay the tariff or take your business elsewhere.

We in the minority limit ourselves to 2-3 wineries per day, call in advance to schedule time with the winemaker or vintner, spend time with them understanding their processes, thoughtfully taste their wines with them and in many cases patronize their winery. In exchange we rarely if ever get charged for tastings.

If you want to graze the buffet then be prepared to pay for it. Wink
Hey, I agree on all fronts. I'm just saying it's Napa folks. These yo-yos have convinced a lot of people it's OK to charge you $350.00 for a bottle of "must have" wine that quite likely costs a fraction of that to produce. As long as people keep traipsing into tasting rooms and paying $25.00 for a tasting and a kick in the pants on the way out the door they'll keep charging it and they'll keep getting what they deserve. Caveot Emptor.
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
Hey, I agree on all fronts. I'm just saying it's Napa folks. These yo-yos have convinced a lot of people it's OK to charge you $350.00 for a bottle of "must have" wine that quite likely costs a fraction of that to produce. As long as people keep traipsing into tasting rooms and paying $25.00 for a tasting and a kick in the pants on the way out the door they'll keep charging it and they'll keep getting what they deserve. Caveot Emptor.


very well said.
Aren't Napa tasting rooms a bit of a zoo. If they did not charge do you think there may be more people winery hopping just for free wine? I know bars in town that had good deals/happy hours and they ended them raised prices because they though it was a liability.
quote:
Originally posted by spo:
Aren't Napa tasting rooms a bit of a zoo. If they did not charge do you think there may be more people winery hopping just for free wine? I know bars in town that had good deals/happy hours and they ended them raised prices because they though it was a liability.


Well there was a time when tastings were free or mayybe $10. Times change - economy is tough for some of these wineries. Doesn't justify it, but I get the thought process.

Yes those of us on this forum enjoy a more personalized experience. Those going to Napa for the first time, cruising up and down Hwy 29 are gonna encounter, well, in some cases, tourist traps.

So I suppose in some respects - there is now more of a "cost of entry" to be exposed to wine in Napa and that can be frustrating for newbies but as long as people keep paying for it, it will perpetuate.
quote:
Originally posted by AZCat:
All I'll add is that while I don't mind paying tasting fees I do find it disappointing when the winery won't credit that fee toward your purchase, particularly if it is a fairly expensive purchase.

On the Contrary I would be disappointed if the winery won't credit to purchases when their wines are cheap. Understand if Caymus SS was being poured, a single 2oz glass meant $10 lost in revenue, so it is very justified to charge a high tasting fee and not credit it. If they credit it, I take it as a bonus.

And I got a feeling KTF's friends were disappointed because they were comparing tasting price between Sonoma to Napa.
The tasting rooms at Napa have adjusted to the reality of who 90% of their visitors are. (And they are not wine geeks like us). They are tourists out for a good time and a 'D ride'. That's what you should expect when you go, unless you set up some other experience in advance.

If you want the 'old time' tasting room experience, you have to go somewhere other than Napa.
quote:
Originally posted by Gundam:
quote:
Originally posted by AZCat:
All I'll add is that while I don't mind paying tasting fees I do find it disappointing when the winery won't credit that fee toward your purchase, particularly if it is a fairly expensive purchase.

On the Contrary I would be disappointed if the winery won't credit to purchases when their wines are cheap. Understand if Caymus SS was being poured, a single 2oz glass meant $10 lost in revenue, so it is very justified to charge a high tasting fee and not credit it. If they credit it, I take it as a bonus.

And I got a feeling KTF's friends were disappointed because they were comparing tasting price between Sonoma to Napa.


That's a good point. I just think that if I buy three bottles of wine at $60 each it would be nice if the winery would credit my $15 tasting fee toward the purchase price - I figure (perhaps wrongly) that the reason they offer tasting to begin with is to attract new customers, not to generate tasting-fee revenue.

Um, not that this has happened to me or anything... Wink
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
Hey, I agree on all fronts. I'm just saying it's Napa folks. These yo-yos have convinced a lot of people it's OK to charge you $350.00 for a bottle of "must have" wine that quite likely costs a fraction of that to produce. As long as people keep traipsing into tasting rooms and paying $25.00 for a tasting and a kick in the pants on the way out the door they'll keep charging it and they'll keep getting what they deserve. Caveot Emptor.


+1
I'm in Napa/Sonoma probably 6-8 times a year and really do enjoy each of theses visit. I agree with Joe, I usually make all of my appointments well in advance, tasted from the barrel rooms and generally a large number of bottles and generally never have been charged.
If you don't want to get overcharged for tasting:

1. Do your homework before going to find out who charges what and if it's refundable.

2. Stay off the main road in Napa. Calistoga area wineries, for instance, tend to be cheaper.

3. As was said, don't go to Napa at all. For northern Sonoma go to wineroad.com and you can get a list of wineries with comp tastings.


The fees started as a crowd control measure to stop the "power tasters" from hitting 20 wineries in a day. The fees have since become a revenue generator. Some wineries have actually raised their fees recently to compensate for fewer visitors and fewer purchases. IMO these places should be avoided, not rewarded, by walking out if you don't like the fee. BTW, it's not the people behind the bar determining the fees so don't take it out on them. Email the winery instead.

[/rant]
I would absolutey credit someone if they go ahead and make a purchase after tasting - a little comp here and there goes a long way. And word of mouth is the best or worst PR

As someone who did the '10 wineries a day' experience on my first trip out, I highly agree that one in the morning, lunch, and then one or two after is the best way to taste. Taking the time to know who, what, where the wines are coming from only enhances the experience, it makes you feel connected to the wines/winery. And calling in advance is highly appreciated, and in some cases, flattering to certain wineries.

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