Tasting party size for winery visits...

During Thanksgiving week, the extended family wants to organize a tasting jaunt to either Napa or Sonoma. We’ve done it before with great luck - we’ve tasted at Williams Selyem, Lynmar, Rochioli, Robert Young, Chalk Hill, Alpha Omega, Ma(i)sonry, Merry Edwards, and Chasseur…with great experiences.

Our core group of 8 has been reasonable to manage and find tastings for, and they we are all all easy-chatting wine-heads.

This year, we will be a group of 12, and I worry that we would overload a place on a visit.

We plan to make appointments and I was wondering two things:

  1. Suggested possibilities for a group of this size. We are happy to pay (for example, our upgraded Lynmar experience was 50 dollars per person, and we could up the ante, if need be) so was wondering if anybody knew any wineries that wouldn’t mind 12 tasters. (We also make it a point to do some buying while visiting, so I don’t think we are a group that is a drag, financially.) We are not rush tasters, and would likely only visit two (three would be an outside possibility) wineries.

  2. There are some wineries whose mailing list I dwell on, but haven’t asked them about this size of a group. Is 12 people too many to consider asking a winery I am a ‘regular’ with, or is it putting them on the spot for a group size they may not want. On the plus side here is that we usually take back-vintages to share with the winery to try to make the visit a little more fun four our tasting person.

Thanks for any insights.

Be damned certain that your Limo driver doesn’t make any U-Turns into oncoming traffic.

Ask the wineries


Good chance the answer/experience will differ from one winery to another.

I think the real issue is time, thats less than a month from now. A lot of places have large groups as a rule. Shafer, Kapcsandy, Phelps for example. The problem would be that its more than likely that most of those spots are booked already. Smaller places vary so calling now is not a bad idea.

I would start with the guys whose mailing list the OP is on where he buys a good bit of wine.

I planned a trip to Napa for 12 people last November. I contacted the wineries to humbly ask about the large group and I offered to bring all of the wine. They politely decline, I pushed (because they are all too kind) and brought back vintages of their wines from my cellar. They opened recent vintage and didn’t need to cater a huge party. Several of my guests bought wine at the visit as well. Turned into a big positive for all.


Thank you! I was hesitant to contact my mailing list wineries because I didn’t want them to feel on the spot. I will do it!

Always the ray of sunshine.

Anton, I`d consider going back to Williams Selyem with the caveat of alerting them to the size of the group and a preference to taste library wines and paying them to do so. I was fortunate to follow a large group that did just that and was favoured with the dregs [last 1/3- 1/4] from all 6 of the bottles plus the “regular” tasting. The wines were all really good being closer to maturity.

Then tell us the exact time of your appointment, so we can schedule our visits accordingly.

Certainly make contact and let them know your intent. If you have a positive buying history I would guess it will all work out.

I’ve done a trip where we tasted in a group of 12. Key was just reaching out the each winery ahead of time to see if they could accommodate the group. It varied widely, but we were able to work it out with a number of places.