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Do tour buses and limos make for a less pleasant winetasting experience?

by TrevR on October 10, 2007

That’s the argument being made by some in the wine industry according to an article today on Decanter.com. Here’s the key excerpt:

Wineries are grappling with visits too often ending up in drunken excess, according to winery reps from New York to California.

‘It is a really centred around limousines and buses, with a lot of people thinking [as they are not driving] they can drink as much as they want,’ said Ray Falkner, president of the Temecula Valley Wine Association, based in southern California.

‘They are not a hazard on the road, but they are a hazard in the winery – they are very boisterous, rude, obnoxious and disruptive. If you have an entire bus load or limo group, it hurts the entire tasting experience for other guests,’ Falkner told decanter.com.

Interestingly enough, Daryl Sattui (owner of Napa wineries V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa) is quoted in the article as saying this is less of an issue here in the Napa Valley. Why? According to Sattui, the $10, $15 and sometimes $20+ tasting fees that most Napa wineries charge act as a bit of a filter, leaving only ‘serious tasters’ in the tasting rooms.

In our experience, Sattui is partially right–the fees certainly must deter some from ever entering a tasting room. That said, we’ve absolutely encountered the boisterous, rowdy groups of tasters here in the valley. Are the buses and limos to blame for this? Probably not. We see this as part of a natural (albeit unfortunate) process that has become more prevalent as wine has become more mainstream.

What’s your take? Who or what is to blame for obnoxious, drunken tasting room behavior?

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, wine, winery, winetasting, Daryl Sattui, V. Sattui, Castello di Amorosa, napa wine tasting]

About the Author

has written 716 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter @TrevR.

  • http://www.californiawinehikes.com/winehiker winehiker

    This issue has annoyed me as well, Trevor. It’s one of the reasons I limit my guided wine and hiking tours to no more than 12 people, including myself. As a result, there’s less of a sense of “quantity” to the experiences and more quality, therefore, for everyone, including the hosts we encounter at each venue. Buses? Limos? We take the backroads.

    I wrote an article about this back in March 2006 titled Visiting A Winery – 5 Ways to Avoid Learning Anything. It starts as an “April Fools” take on the issue, but becomes a bit more compelling. Enjoy!

    BTW, thanks for joining my Facebook network, Trevor!

    ~Russ

  • http://www.californiawinehikes.com/winehiker winehiker

    This issue has annoyed me as well, Trevor. It’s one of the reasons I limit my guided wine and hiking tours to no more than 12 people, including myself. As a result, there’s less of a sense of “quantity” to the experiences and more quality, therefore, for everyone, including the hosts we encounter at each venue. Buses? Limos? We take the backroads.

    I wrote an article about this back in March 2006 titled Visiting A Winery – 5 Ways to Avoid Learning Anything. It starts as an “April Fools” take on the issue, but becomes a bit more compelling. Enjoy!

    BTW, thanks for joining my Facebook network, Trevor!

    ~Russ

  • Randy

    This is why I try to only taste at smaller wineries that discourage the bus experience. My worst experience ever was at Del Dotto — or should it be termed “Del Blotto”. Nearly everyone was drunk, including the Del Dotto tour guide. It was clearly encouraged to drink to excess, as they sell more wine that way.

  • Randy

    This is why I try to only taste at smaller wineries that discourage the bus experience. My worst experience ever was at Del Dotto — or should it be termed “Del Blotto”. Nearly everyone was drunk, including the Del Dotto tour guide. It was clearly encouraged to drink to excess, as they sell more wine that way.

  • http://www.wineoutlook.com/ farley

    Hmmmm. Limo tours definitely increase the chances of drunken idiots in the tasting room. But the tasting room staff can still take control. Even though I work at Rosenblum Cellars, located in the East Bay where there aren’t many other wineries in close range, we do often get folks who just toured Hangar One vodka. The staff gives each other a heads up and then pour very small pours, discouraging lingering.

  • http://www.wineoutlook.com farley

    Hmmmm. Limo tours definitely increase the chances of drunken idiots in the tasting room. But the tasting room staff can still take control. Even though I work at Rosenblum Cellars, located in the East Bay where there aren’t many other wineries in close range, we do often get folks who just toured Hangar One vodka. The staff gives each other a heads up and then pour very small pours, discouraging lingering.

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