POSTED ON January 17, 2010 | IN Tasting Rooms, Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

VinoVisit and Cellar Pass — Reservation system for tasting rooms

These two competing companies are battling toe-to-toe to sign up wineries with a new concept that is designed to attract wine country tourists to the tasting room. VinoVisit seems to have the head start with more wineries signed up plus a few publishers like our own Wine Country Getaways. The reservation widget for both companies will work much like widgets used by the Trip Adviser to find and book hotels or like Open Table to reserve a restaurant. With the tasting room widget the tourist will be able to book a tour, tasting, and other winery events. For VinoVisit, each winery in their system will have its own individual Widget on its Website, and publishers like Wine Country Getaways will eventually have a general Widget containing information on all the VinoVisit wineries. You can check out this page to see the current wineries using VinoVisit on WCG.

Tasting Rooms Fees — Going up in 2010?

Speaking of attracting tourists, something that won’t help is raising tasting room fees.
I just got a notice from Bouchaine Winery that they will be raising their tasting fees from $10 to $15 in 2010. They also have a new idea to have a tasting of wine with cheese and crackers out on their deck for $30. Is this a sign that tasting room fees are about to increase across the Valley? With the Valley hurting for visitors this would seem like an untimely decision. I have written about this often, the wineries need to come up some creative ideas for tasting room fees. One of the more common email comments we get is about the excessive tasting room fees in the Napa Valley. A weekend trip can turn into $200 worth of tasting room fees. How about trying something like what the WineRoad does. This little organization of Russian River wineries in Sonoma County has a one-day pass and three-day pass they sell for $20 and $50 per person. The pass entitles the holder to visit several participating wineries over the day or weekend. Everyone knows up front what the cost will be. Nice idea!

Clif Family Winery — Unique wine and food pairing that works

clif-nutsFor a tasting fee of $10 a visitor can taste four wines, each paired with a different gourmet mix of dried fruit and nuts. It is surprising how tasty and delightful these concoctions are and how each mix brings out the best in the wines. This past weekend at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the Clif Family officially introduced their gourmet dried fruit and nuts items and will be selling them at gourmet markets and delis. These 5-oz. packages sell for $7 each at the tasting room. By the way, the Clif Bar Winery has signed up with the Cellar Pass reservation system.

Tasting at Domaine Chandon — How to drink a split of sparkling

domain-sipAt the beautiful Domaine Chandon tasting room we noticed a couple of unusual items in the tasting room. Something we have never seen before, a tip jar. Actually, it was a tall vase and there is a lone $10 bill in the tip container. Hmmm, I wonder who put that in there. The other ususual item, a plastic drinking device that fits into a split of sparkling wine. It is designed so one can drink the sparkling wine right out of the bottle. It just could be, and might be, the next cool thing at a party.