Tasting Etiquette (Oregon)

My SO and I will be heading to visit the Willamette Valley with two other couples. We are planning to do a number of private tastings. Is bringing a gift (presumably wine/wine related) appropriate/expected? I assume if we bring wine, better to bring something older and/or geeky?

Also, what is the general consensus on number of bottles to purchase per couple?


(and yes, I used the search function)

There’s no expectation for you to bring anything at all. It likely would be a surprise if you did. As far as purchasing, there won’t be an expectation if there is a tasting fee charged. Otherwise you can see what the bottle purchase minimum is for waiving that tasting fee and use that as your baseline.


This. Folks bring stuff sometimes but, honestly, it usually more sort of hilarious to see what we end up with than anything. It’s still very nice of people and the thought counts but, really, don’t over-think it. No one expects anything.

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I brought a Brunello winemaker a bottle of Sabelli-Frisch “Mariedam” White Zin last year. He definitely had a “WTF is this?” face, but absolutely loved it.


I never brought wine, but for favorite spots and winemakers, I sometimes would bring Applewood smoked bacon from my local Atlanta butcher. That was always happily received. Something I’d do when the winemaker was pouring and giving her or his time, not for the bigger places.

Generally when I got a free tasting, especially with the winemaker in person, the expectation was I should buy some wine, something I was always glad to do. When I paid for a tasting, it was as Jim Anderson said, you always knew the bottle purchase minimum to waive the fee.

Its been 5 years or so, so my favorite places have likely evolved their policies, but enthusiasm and interest always made us welcome.

A tasting at Big Table Farms was memorable for sampling in Clare and Brian’s kitchen and meeting the farm animals that grace their labels.

I always liked tasting at Walter Scott while looking out over the Eola Amity Hills and meeting their latest cattle dog

Antica Terra’s paid tasting with food was great and I’d do it again, even if I don’t really drink their wines anymore.

Other good places/tastings (many many good options though):
Patty Green, Cristom, Drouhin, Saffron Fields

Domaine Serene was lousy when we went- a pricy cookie-cutter tasting led by person who didn’t know wine in a fancy mansion facility.


I promise you, the insane tasting fees are a gift to these places in themselves. Show up, drink some good wine, and if you find one you like in the lineup don’t hesitate to ask for more. Also, don’t feel the need to buy anything unless you just love the stuff.

I was waiting for a winemaker to inform him that it’s customary in OR to gift a magnum of Romanee Conti for your first visit to a winery.


Would not recommend bringing Romanée-Conti and tell them “this is what Pinot Noir is supposed to taste like” :rofl:


Oh, I could probably suffer through that…though I might request being reminded on an annual basis after that.

Honestly, it’s really fun when people bring bottles(or Bow Truss coffee-thank you Corey) as gifts but it’s definitely not expected. Berserkers are a very generous group as a whole.


Reading this thread while charging my car in Kelso made me feel bad. But don’t worry I just snagged for you a magnum of Apothic Red, a 40 oz of Mickey’s, and a 3 month old lb of Starbucks Blonde roast from the Safeway and a pair of Dockers khakis from the Three Rivers Mall. Can’t imagine any other visitors will offer such unique gifts. :smiley:


Ha! Classic Pacific NE gifts, outside of the Apothic…


introduce them to Kalimotxo

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My sister sent Jim Anderson a coupon code for a discount on work boots. :joy:

True. Still haven’t used it. Think I have it ne more vintage between the 2 pairs I have going right now!

I have toured the Willamette Valley fairly extensively. The wine people up there are (almost universally) humble and delightful. My recommendation would be to buy their wines. Have the wines shipped to your home or storage locker. You will find this to be a very easy option, as there are so many great wines being produced in the Valley and its sub-AVAs.


I agree with Colin. Most of us in the Willamette Valley are family-owned and operated. Visits are down in the region in the double digits. This impacts not only winery revenues, but also tips and commissions for tasting room staff. Most people buy at least a few bottles per tasting even if you pay tasting fees.


Great post Kathryn,

I had never tipped in the tasting room other than $5 or whatever. No reason other than thinking buying wine was the “reward”. I always buy.

A couple of weeks ago I was tasting in Santa Barbara County and my friends were tipping like crazy. They are very generous people regardless.

But it became clear they greatly appreciated the generosity and it made the experience even that much better because they know we cared.

It’s tough times right now and if you’re committed to this then you’ll need to double down.

I’m in


So cool, thanks @brigcampbell for your comment and encouragement to take care of the tasting room teams.

i bring my wallet to buy some wine if I don’t already buy from them

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@CFu U already know . . . :smile: