Over the past few weeks, I have visited area wineries to gauge the impact of changes at the tasting room due to the pandemic. There are some noticeable practices being implemented that will ultimately change the tasting experience going forward. Here are a few of my thoughts...
1. Plan Ahead
Many wineries are requiring reservations for all guests regardless of size, as capacity limits have been significantly reduced. You may also experience a short wait with all the new protocols. Please be patient as everyone is doing all they can to efficiently serve your party. Walk-ins are not recommended when touring, make sure to plan ahead for those must visit wineries on your list.
2. Wine Flights vs. Wine Tastings
A big change you will experience is a switch from tastings to flights. I would estimate that 50% of wineries have made this move.
Tastings typically consist of five one ounce pours (about one glass of
wine). Flights typically are four wines with three ounce pours (about two glasses of wine). Costs for tastings generally range from $5-10 and flights are $8-15. So why flights? They provide for a better business model, increased winery efficiencies and an enhanced wine tasting experience.
3. Free Wine Tastings
If you are a fan of the passport programs offered by many of our area wine trails and from the Wine Travel Card, there will be significant changes ahead. Free tastings are going to become a thing of the past.
Why? Due to increasing costs, limited capacity, and pouring away valuable product for free is longer viable. In addition, wineries no longer need to attract visitors with the enticement of free tastings.
Local wine trails have either stopped selling their popular passport programs (that feature free tastings) or have raised their cost substantially ($45 for Keuka Wine Passport).
4.Better Tasting Room Experience
Wineries have been working hard planning changes to enhance your customer experience. As a result you will receive a more interactive tasting visit with fewer groups crowding the bar and a overall intimate slower pace. Isn't that why you are there anyways?
While the tasting room will look, feel and work differently -- I truly believe you will receive a renewed "true" tasting visit. One that offers one-on-one discussions with options such as charcuterie, cheese and chocolate pairings and a focus on creating a memorable customer experience.
The Wine Tour Experience
Slow down, enjoy and truly taste the wine. Find your palate, and avoid rushing from place to place. Learn about the wines, inquire about the winery history, and expand your wine making appreciation by asking questions.
Fall is a perfect time to take your Wine Travel Card and experience all the positive changes! Cheers.