Oh how times have changed.
In just the year and half since Steve Robert’s WineTrails of Washington was released, many of the listed free wine tastings are no longer free. Surprised? I guess I shouldn’t be. Dissappointed? Definitely.
And before I’m accused of defaming the entire book, please note, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! WineTrails is a great book for any wine lover looking to explore Washington wine country near and far. With over 30 detailed and easy to understand wine trials mapped out, even the novice wine hound can piece together a stellar weekend – or week long – excursion.
But if you want to accuse me of being cheap, go for it.
I just have a hard time walking into a winery that has yet to prove itself to me, and handing over five to 10 bucks a pop. I think at least one free taste is called for. Then – after seeing that this winery does in deed value the effort that I made even making it out to their establishment – I would love to support them.
But, until that catches on, my only advice is to call ahead (the phone number are given) to verify tasting fees. A couple weekends ago, Dan and I hit up the southern Woodinville wine trail (pg. 138) and were faced with more wine fees than feebees.
Among the southern Woodinville wineries now charging for wine fees, although listed as “complementary” in WineTrails, were Chateau St. Michelle, Columbia Winery and Facelli Winery. We even checked out a couple North Woodinville Wineries, and found that DeStefano, Mark Ryan, Red Sky and Edmonds wineries also now charge for wine tastings (most refundable with wine purchase).
But just when I wonder how wineries can justify charging upwards of $10 for a one or two 2 oz. tastings, I have to look no further than Woodinville’s Saintpaulia Vintners. They’ve closed their tasting room altogether.
“Economicaly, it wasn’t making sense,” said Paul Shinoda, winemaker and proprietor of Saintpaulia Vintners. “There are so many tasting rooms in Woodinville and I was just outside that in the warehouse district and it just didn’t attract the traffic that I needed.”
Okay, fine. <insert pouty Lisa here>
I just hope, after all my tastes, I have enough money left to buy a bottle.