Disappointing Old Habits in the Tasting Rooms

I was traveling on business last week (wine business, of course) and took some time to do a little wine tasting. I was sadly disappointed with my experience at all three wineries I visited. As usual, I was focused on the experience, so I will not be describing or commenting on wine.

At the first two wineries, we walked into the building and up to the bar. In both instances, a friendly person greeted us and gave us the list of wines. At the third winery we headed over to one of the individual counters, each with four chairs. Eventually we were told to go to the cash register and pay for a tasting. Once paid, we were told to take our LOANER glasses (the emphasis was clear) over to a certain counter, which we did. Our host arrived after we had been seated for a little while, along with some morsels of food to go with the different wines.

In every tasting we were given information about each of the wines, all these facts that were culled directly from the tasting notes in front of us. While none of the servers was rude, each seemed indifferent to us as individuals. No one asked us a question, not even that ubiquitous question common to almost all wineries – “So, where are you from?”  Actually that’s not true, at the third winery there was a wine made from a grape that is not used a lot and we were asked if we had ever had this varietal before. I said that I had. After I answered, the server moved on to telling us about the grape, missing a perfect opportunity to form a connection by asking me where, when or how I had come to try this grape.

We talk so much these days about the experience, but there was no “Experience”. It was just a nondescript rote tasting of wine organized to get people in and out, with no effort to create a connection or make a sale.  How sad and what a waste of my time and theirs… I hope to have a better experience at the next winery I visit.

A tip of the glass, from me to you!


3 comments on “Disappointing Old Habits in the Tasting Rooms

  1. Karyn says:

    An interesting post, Elizabeth. I’m so proud of the fact that our staff is incredibly friendly and works hard to make a connection with each of our customers.

    You touched on another subject I think might be worth visiting: Loaner glasses. Wine glasses are a huge expense for wineries and people feel entitled to them, even when they’ve received a free tasting. We started a $,25 recycling program to try to recoup some of our glasses. Do you have other suggestions?

    • One winery I know puts a price for the glass on their tasting information sheet, which reminds people that the glasses are not free. If you charge for tasting, you might build the price of the glass into the cost of the tasting. Or you can write the cost off as promotion if your glasses have your logo on them. I think the recycling program is a good idea for a number of reasons, including the green, sustainable angle. You might expand that to include bottles as well and give a 5% discount on anything purchased the day that people bring bottles or glasses back.


      • Karyn Howard says:

        Wow, thanks, Elizabeth. I appreciate your time. As usual, you have wonderful advice. I hope you’re well.

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