Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pay to Taste - evil or good?

So we were on a tasting tour or wineries a few years ago, up near Traverse City, MI, and I took my friends into a favorite winery, one of the big ones. The greeter says "You can pick up your tasting glass over there. $5 each person." I was stunned, I had been there the year before and there was no charge or tasting limits, except for their "premium" brandies and sparkling wines in a special room off to the side.

I turned to my buddies and said, "Sorry guys, they want $5 for a tasting, how about we move on to the other ten or twenty wineries up here that do not charge?" We moved on...

A few states, including Ohio, require a fee be paid for wine tasting, its usually $1 for six, what some call a flight of tastings. The number in a flight seems to vary from place to place, but thats not a big issue.

The question is, dear reader, what effect will paid tasting have on you, as a regular visitor to a winery? What effect would paid tasting have on the nouveau wine taster when he peaks in the door and sees they want $5 for a tasting, limited or no?

What sells wine at our place is the tasting, I would guess 50% of our sales involve wines that the test-taster would not have selected based on description (we'll talk about that) beacsue they generally do not find that wine as good, when tried in the past. Many of our regulars have moved from sweet to dry wines because we encouraged them to keep trying to find a dry wine they liked. Would they have done that for $5 a visit?

Next time we will consider the reason why wineries do charge for tasting, other then when required to by law. Feel free to comment (click comment below) or email me at


  1. First, nice work on getting the blog up and going. Don't lose momentum!

    Second, yes, the fee seems silly, and would turn me off. My wife and I tasted 6-10 wines when we first came, and went home with 12 bottles. I wouldn't have felt comfortable making that big of a "commitment" without knowing what we're getting. And since we've found our favorites, we only really need to taste new labels from here out.

  2. Also, I couldn't find on your website a list of dates for special events, just which months they are in. Am I missing it?

  3. check back now, most are up, the 27th is the bread baking contest