Are Connecticut Winery Tasting Fees Too High?

I have only visited two wineries so far this year and there’s a good reason for that. 2012 was the last year I visited all the CT wineries on the CT wine trail (and some that are not on the CT wine trail) and I have been to all of them the previous three years. I’ve noticed two things since I’ve been visiting the Connecticut Wineries.

The first thing is that wines have gotten extremely better each year as many of the wineries have perfected their wines. I’m sure the grapes are maturing as they season each year.

They seem not to be boutique wineries as they were when first starting out but are becoming bonafide wine producers of consistently good wines. And the CT reds are starting to get much better than in the beginning. I think a lot of CT reds are getting as good as the CT whites, if not more so.

So, with that here’s the second thing I’ve noticed – tasting fees have risen considerably from the majority of the state’s wineries.  It used to be that I could visit all of the 30+ wineries (usually 4 at a time) and it would be reasonably priced at around the $3 to $6 for a tasting. And some were even free. Some of the wineries gave you their signature glass with the tasting fee.

I get it that you have to cover the costs of doing business and that much of the total production you harvest are mere “experimental batches” in California wineries. And I don’t mind paying more for a bottle of your wine as I like to support local wineries as much as I do local farmers’ markets.

Prior to this year wine tastings were approximately about 75 cents for an average ½ ounce pour. I can live with that. But this is what we’re experiencing at the wineries today:

$14 for 8 wines plus signature logo glass

$8 for 7 wines

$7 for 6 wines

$10 for entire wines on the list plus signature logo glass

$9 for 8 wines

$7 for 5 wines or $12 for 12 wines

2 free samples, $4 for 8 wines, or $8 for 12 wines

$6 for 6 wines plus signature logo glass

up to $25 for 6 wines (of which 2 are reserve wines) plus a famous brand name glass

$9 for 10 wines

$7 for 6 wines

some have options of 2 wine tastings consisting of:

$5-$8 for 3 or 4 wines OR $10-$12 for 7-9 wines plus the signature logo glass

$10 for 4 wines – REALLY?

I can go to almost any restaurant and get a decent glass of wine for around $6-8 and it’s usually around 6-8 ounces of wine. As you can see from the tasting fees above I’m paying about double that. And I only want to TASTE your wines not drink them.  If I want to drink your wines it will come after I taste them and at a different time as I will remember what your wines taste like and visit you again but with the purpose of bringing along a picnic lunch (most wineries allow you to do this, unless of course they sell food too which I understand) and purchasing either a glass of wine or a bottle and enjoy what your winery has to offer. Which means I’m going to spend a few hours at your establishment.

With the cost of gas nowadays I’m starting to get particular to which wineries I visit and if you’re going to charge me more than about a $1 for a ½ ounce pour I probably won’t be visiting you.

I can go about 15 minutes from home and get free wine tastings (because I belong to their wine club) for myself and up to four guests. Their wine club averages out to one bottle of wine a month. Then, there is another winery I travel about 50 minutes to because their wine is exceptional plus I cannot remember when they last charged me for a tasting, even though their wine tastings are one of the few wineries that have reasonable fees for tastings. 

As far as the signature logo glass is concerned. I really do not need it. If you sponsor a wine festival at your winery then I expect to get signature logo souvenir glass. After all, don’t take this to heart but given my druthers I’d rather drink my wine from a Riedel wine glass (yes, I’m snobbish that way but have found a good wine glass makes the wine taste better) so I won’t be drinking the majority of my wine from a signature logo wine glass unless of course it’s a Riedel. I’m seeing a trend of exploding tasting fees in the future. Are the CT wineries forcing me to visit wineries outside the state???

Okay fellow oenophiles – am I wrong? Do you agree or disagree?  Please comment on the post. Let me know how you feel. It can be as easy as “I agree” or “I don’t agree”.  Winery owners – how about you? Am I on target or am I sniffing up the wrong grapevine? I’d like to hear your point of view.