Question: “The cost of a visit to wine country has gone up considerably over the years. Do you have any suggestions for cutting expenses when out for a day of wine tasting?” C.S., Walnut Creek, CA
Answer: The cost of a day of wine tasting has certainly gone up over the years, regardless of the particular area you visit. Here are a few helpful tips for saving a cent here and there.
Plan Your Route. Many of us are seat-of-the-pants wine tasters – we arrive in wine country and drive around until we spot a tasting room we haven’t visited before and is open to walk-ins. This is a fun approach, but not very efficient. Planning the day for direct routes between tastings saves time and gas.
Bring Snacks. If you plan to snack between tastings, consider packing your own supplies at home before hitting the road. Deli prices in most wine producing regions are higher than you’ll find at home.
Get Your Tasting Fee Waived. Many, probably most, tasting rooms waive the tasting fee with a wine purchase. Don’t waste money on wine you don’t like, but compare the cost of the fee with the price of a couple bottles you might enjoy at home.
Share Tastings. Many tasting rooms have no restrictions on two people sharing a single tasting for which you are charged only one tasting fee. Inform your host that you will be sharing as a courtesy.
Bundle Purchases For Case Discounts. Buying a case of wine at the tasting room? Ask for a case discount if one is not automatically offered. Do several members in your party want to buy just a few bottles each? Bundle all those bottles into one purchase that qualifies for the case discount and settle up the cost among the group later.
Skip The Tour. Do the wineries you plan to visit have unique wine making processes or facilities that can’t be viewed from a walk around the grounds? If the answer is yes, then perhaps a tour will contribute to the tasting experience. If not, you can cut the cost of your winery visit by skipping the tour and just tasting the wine. For many Wine Adventurers, the relationship with any producer begins with the quality of the wine. Once that test is passed, getting to know the facilities can be the objective of a follow-up visit.
Don’t Get Clubbed. Some wineries encourage tasting room staff to aggressively sell wine club membership to visitors. Typical inducements to join could include waiving the tasting fee and discounting purchases immediately. You might save money that day, but you are obligating yourself to recurring expenses in the future. Develop your own club-careful guidelines. See my article Wine Clubs – Are They Right For You?
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