Free Wine Tastings Disappearing

According to an upcoming report on MarketWatch TV, free wine tastings are going the way of the dinosaur:

From Napa to New York, more wine lovers looking for a “full-bodied experience” can expect to pay for tastings and tours. MarketWatch’s Stacey Delo caught up with Wall Street Journal wine experts Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher to find out why free tastings have gone the way of the free lunch — out the door.

If this proves to be the case, that’s too bad. While I can understand that some particularly important or interesting vineyards may be able to do this, free tours and sampling are a major promotion technique for smaller vineyards. Most of the time when I’ve done a tour, just about everybody in attendance has purchased at least a bottle or two, and occasionally much more. I’m sure some of these buys are “courtesy purchases”, a sort of immediate payback for the tour or tasting – an admission or tasting charge will remove any shred of guilt that might lead to a purchase. Reduced traffic could be an important overall issue – I’m sure some of those who tour become regular purchasers, and getting rid of free tours or tasting will certainly have an effect on traffic.

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