Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How much is too much?

I have taken a neutral to positive approach in documenting my wine findings and waxing on Oregon Wine Country in general. I believe this is the best position for me in this project for many reasons. BUT something has stuck in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, so I figure it is worth sharing. It has to do with the price of tastings. I am 100% behind charging a tasting fee at wineries and tasting rooms. For many in this business the profit margin is thin and the tasting fee can help offset the cost of keeping the doors open to the public. I believe the system of charging a fee that is waived with purchase is smart. It encourages patrons to buy wine, which is part of the point, right?
I spent a good week tasting wine in Sonoma in August and there were tasting fees at every winery we visited, almost all of them waived the fee with purchase. Shockingly, we came home with cases of wine in our trunk. The most expensive tasting we did on the trip was at the sparkling wine house Domaine Caneros (in Napa). It was $15 for a flight of 3 sparklings, with more expensive tasting options offered. I guess it is because of this relatively recent trip, and all of my Oregon wine research as of late that I am a bit put off by the $20 tasting fee at Bergstrom Winery in Newberg. It has been at the top of my list, but I just can't bring myself (or anyone who is with me) to pay that amount. I am not sure what the tasting includes, but I do know the price of a 2007 bottle of Pinot Noir ranges between $55 and $75. I realize this is a limited production winery, dedicated to producing exceptional wines, and there is no doubt in my mind they are exceptional, but $20?!!!! That is 4 tastings at several other wineries in the area.

I wonder, are the tasting fees a deterrent for people to visit Oregon Wine Country?

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