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wine countryIt is sad to hear stories like this. Rob McMillan posts an email he received from a wine lover and his daughter who  were treated shabbily at several wineries they visited in wine country.

We had 15 visits;  every one with an appointment set many weeks in advance.  Four had no record of our reservations while others had it for the wrong time or type of tasting.  Only two had bothered to look at what we had bought from them in the past.  Only once were we met by the person we were told would be meeting us.  Several set us down with a glass and a bottle and walked off — only to reappear while bruskly asking ‘you want to taste something else now?’

With declining overall sales and direct-to-consumer sales as the only bright spot, this is not what the wine industry needs. We don’t know, from what was published, the location of these wineries although the post mentions wine country and appointments so I assume its Napa and/or Sonoma.

I’ve visited several hundred wineries over the last 6 years, and I must say this hasn’t been my experience. I could count on one hand the wineries where we have been treated with indifference. But we stay away from the tourist traps and large, commercial wineries. We don’t care about event spaces, gondola rides,  which band is playing on Saturday, or the movie memorabilia in the tasting room. We seek wineries that take pride in their wines and want to talk about them.

My advice if you want a decent wine country experience is visit smaller wineries with good reputations. If you see limousines in the parking lot, run away very quickly. A winery that in anyway resembles a bar on Saturday night will not be worth experiencing.

And give some thought to visiting emerging wine regions that are hungry for recognition. We’ve had some wonderful experiences in California but wine regions such as the Finger Lakes, Oregon, Michigan, Texas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona and Virginia offer a more intimate experience and the wines from the best wineries are outstanding.

If you’re a winery, treat your customers like honored guests, thoroughly train your staff to assess what customers want,  and please offer interesting wines that set you apart from the competition.