Napa Tasting Fees

Well, they could be like Dominus and just not offer public tastings.

I don’t know what Kapscandy is currently but I always thought it was crazy high even if you spent a ton. I stopped buying from them, thought the conversation was absurd given that I was an existing customer that had spent thousands with them. Adios

Some waive fees for individuals or the group up to a certain number if you join their club.

“A tasting fee of $150 per person will be charged to your credit card in advance to secure the reservation.” “A brief tour of the vineyard & winery is followed by a tasting of 5-6 wines in an intimate and relaxed setting. Please allow 1½ - 2 hours for the visit.”


Tasting fees are the new normal. $95 for the better wines at Schramsberg. $65 for the regular.

Yep, higher tasting fees are the ‘new normal’, especially when they are tied in to ‘experiences’. I’m seeing this not only in Napa and Sonoma but in Paso as well.

It never hurts to call and ask someone at the winery what their current policies are - websites are notoriously outdated. Also, by asking, you might find that fees are waived with purchase (kind of like calling a restaurant and finding that corkage fees are waived with purchase).

Good luck and keep us posted on what you find out.
Cheers!

Not accurate at all sorry.
4 people gets one bottle of their continuum. U can take ur time and drink it all. Also you get one Novocium. So retail $225 plus I don’t know. $75?
$500 fee total. $300 is retail wine. Plus they take one group at a time. Pair it with cheese/meat plate. Walk the vineyards with you and Spend 1.5-2 hours with you.

A couple’s fee (2 people) is also waived with a purchase of a 3 pack.

It’s one of the nicest tasting experiences I’ve had in Napa period.

I am very fee tolerant, I value the time, a decent pour, and getting to learn about the wine and the facility.

I almost always plan a visit as a shopping opportunity, as well, and many times, the fees ‘go away.’ I think it’s a fine arrangement.

It all works so smoothly, I can’t recall my last negative experience.

I remember my first Caymus stop in the early 1980’s. The original Charlie Wagner had an old door sitting on two saw horses, tasting was free, and he would sign our bottles and show us around and talk all about farming. He even had some '70’s pinot noir he made! The roads were wide open and we’d often be the only tasters at places. His Special selection was, I think, Grace Family grown! It was 30-35 bucks.

I don’t expect that kind of experience any more, but you can get a whiff with a reservation some place and the fees help keep the crowds from being too unruly.

Alpha Omega has great tastings if you up-sell for the reserves and it makes for a very relaxed tasting experience.

I have been on EMH, Piper, and now MacDonald’s lists but have not tried to go those places because they do such low volumes I don’t want to be a pest. In a few years, I will go, and take some bottles from my cellar to share with them!

Thread drift: I love taking an old bottle (or two) of a wine from the vineyard we are going to visit and opening it with a tasting. I like the shared experience with the producer and want them to know how much we appreciate them allowing us to visit!

So, fees, fine by me…although some are beyond my budget.

It’s probably reasonable to assume that those who wouldn’t pay the tasting fee, would also not buy the wine.

To clarify on Shafer’s tasting policy, if you purchase six bottles prior to the tasting they will waive the $75 PP tasting fee.

High tasting fees keep non buyers out of their tasting rooms. A fact and necessary.

I have to question the cost of producing a Napa Cab, when an older winery owns its vineyards and winery outright without the significant debt service facing younger wineries. With a purchase at those wineries, no reduction or elimination of tasting fees, smacks of very tight, non consumer oriented bean counting.

Think I will head to Sonoma for better pricing, more diversity, less crowded conditions and with Michelin starred(and more bib gourmand) restaurants as well.

Anton,
Charlie Wagner was quite the character and made the visit special and unique as a down home farmer with a strong personality. He had Randy Dunn as winemaker 1975 through 1985, so he was able to greet the visitors frequently.
Grace vineyard was a contributing vineyard to Caymus. In 1978, Charlie saw the Grace vineyard grapes come in to the winery, took a munch and decided to make a special batch. It had the Special Selection label with a differentiating “Grace Family Vineyard” designation(in red ink IIRC) and that is how Grace Family was born.

I’ve always spent whatever it was to do a tasting I wanted to do. Looking back, I can tell you about the great tastings I’ve had but I can’t remember the price of a single one of them. Isn’t that really what you want from a tasting? The memory of the experience?
My very first wow tasting was Alpha Omega where my wife and I toured the winery with Jean Hoefliger and then sat down at their big wooden table and sipped their rosé and desert wines while chatting wine with him. how could a tasting go better?
More recently, I took my wife and her parents to a tasting at Cardinale that was just amazing. God knows how many different wines we tasted while sitting there enjoying light fare and wonderful conversation and while both these two were awesome experiences, they were topped by our tasting at Diamond Creek where Cidy welcomed us and treated us as old friends. It was like a down home visit with friends and good wine.
Seriously, what price do you put on that?
you can’t. and why would you?

but I agree with those of you who say some tasting aren’t worth it and that is really the winery’s fault.
I remember our first trip to Napa, one of our stops was Beringer and it was all you could hope for. Next stop was Opus (God knows why) and it was awful.
Maybe the torches and pitchforks should be out for the experiences offered, maybe not the price.

William Cole: great wine and no fee. Very personal experience. They get it (even if their cab is $175)

It’s useful to reflect on the purpose pricing serves with scarce goods and services — it is to allocate them to those who value them the most highly.

If Mondavi’s public tasting room had no fee, you’d probably have to stand in line two hours to taste there. If Continuum offered that tasting and tour for $10, it would be booked up a year out.

When scarce goods have too low a price or no price, they get overused, or metered out by things like waiting in long lines. Think of LA freeways — valuable and free, so they are packed with users and grind to a halt at busy times. Think of the best LA area surf breaks — they are allocated by waiting in crowds and/or by social pressure and intimidation.

The retort will be that there are some good wineries that don’t charge and they aren’t overrun. That can be true, depending on things like demand for the wines, the location of the tasting room, whether it’s a walk-in tasting room, and whether you have to be a buyer or know someone to get a visit. It’s not true for your large public tasting rooms on the main arteries in Napa.

I think that winery tasting rooms have a parallel with nice restaurants. The diner is looking for and expecting an experience while the restaurateur is thinking butts in seats. Wineries are most interested in having potential buyers of their products in their tasting rooms.

100% agree. Jean and the team at Alpha Omega are great. And the wines are excellent.

If you drink enough with Jean, he’ll take you over to taste at Dana Eatates.

Chris
I think you’re spot on. And what you said goes hand in hand with the other thread. Napa has turned into an overrun get your drink on with your mini-bus or limo. I lost count of how many sloshed people I’ve seen downing everything put in front of them at a tasting room. As a side, I almost always take my tasting notebook and spit almost everything. The looks (I should say stares) I get from others there tasting is often priceless. It’s like they can’t believe I’m not drinking everything in front of me.

In regard to fees, I have no issues with reasonable tasting fees. What I hate is when they won’t waive the fees even if you buy some things. Case in point, A couple years ago some friends of mine and I were heading to Napa. These folks are the type that will buy a case each of they like the wines and the experience. There are not hard core wino-s like us, but they like decent wine. I contact a winery (shall remain nameless, it doesn’t really matter) and was told the tasting fee was $75/person and it would not be waived under any circumstances. I explained that this group would be buying at least 4-6 cases. Nope still had to pay. Told them sorry you’ve just lost a lot of business, we won’t be coming. That group will never buy that wineries wines every again. That should be a lesson to wineries, sometimes the small things make a big difference.

I must have interpreted Chris’ post incorrectly. I was thinking that what he said is that those who value goods and services the most will be willing to pay for them, regardless of their bona fides.

I can count on one hand the number of tastings I have actually been charged out of many hundreds of tastings. Maybe its because I buy wine (some say a lot of wine), maybe because I am a nice guy, or maybe just cause I am fat. I don’t know which, but I seldom have paid where I bought, even if i bought less than I their posted minimum (which is a rarity). I can tell you that at least one time, a winemaker I made an appointment who had looked up my posts (he knew of my statements that it is a rare occasion that Burgundy is worth the extra dollars over a good California pinot). I am genuinely interested in each winemaker’s approach and am open to pay, if charged. But, there is value in buying what you like. Thus, I really agree with one post above - sometimes I would rather pay a tasting fee than feel obligated to buy something I really did not like, which happens on occasion.

Cheers!