POSTED ON June 25, 2006 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY joe

We recently went on a hunt in the Napa Valley for wineries that do not charge a tasting fee. Tasting fees are the norm in the Napa Valley. The highest we know of is at Rubicon Estate where you need to shell out $25 to taste five wines.

We can understand why wineries need to charge for tasting. Bottom line, they need to make money. They also want to avoid pouring wine to those who are not interested in discovering their wines but are more interesting in maintaining their wine “buzz.�?

We must admit however, that we prefer not to pay a tasting fee or second best, at least have your tasting fee applied to a wine purchase. Some wineries offer a logo glass. We have enough of those, and besides, they break easily. Our first report on tasting rooms in the Napa Valley with no tasting fee is the August Briggs Winery

August Briggs Winery is located at the north end of the Valley on the Silverado Trail near Calistoga. We got a chance to taste some delicious wines from both the bottle and the barrel. August “Joe” Briggs, the owner and winemaker, happened to be in the barrel room at the time and took some time to chat with us. Nice guy! We liked very much the August Briggs 2003 Napa Valley Zinfandel and the 2003 Russian River Pinot Noir.

August Briggs Winery

The winery purchases most of it’s grapes from long-term vineyard contracts they have in Napa and Sonoma counties. They make many different labels of wine, all in relatively small amounts.

We very much enjoyed our visit here. The tasting room was warm and welcoming. Grandfather Briggs was happy to show us around the barrel room and gives a few barrel samples.

The wines at August Briggs are on the expensive side, that means for us anything over $20 bottle.

The Good:
Good tasting room staff, no tasting fee, nice picnic area, barrel tasting on occasion.
The Bad: Not open daily, wines are over $30 a bottle.