Monday, September 14, 2020

Serving wine in the time of Coronavirus...

As some of you know, JD and I work 3 days a week at a winery tasting room. The wines are very reasonably priced, and our tasting fee has been $12 per person, waived with a wine purchase. Up until this weekend, we would waive tasting fees for everyone in a group if even one person bought one bottle of wine. You might say we have been very generous in this regard. 

We had 2 groups of guests on Saturday; one group of 6, the other of 4. Both were scheduled to arrive at 2 PM. The air temperature was fairly comfortable, and the smoke level was low enough that I wasn't concerned about serving outdoors.

Group A - the party of 6 - called to say they were running early, and could they come over now. I said sure. They arrived within a few minutes, all wanted to taste, and we got started. They had brought a picnic lunch with them, which they brought out after the main tasting was complete. They ordered glasses of wine to drink with lunch. One of the guests asked if we had any Chardonnay, so I Coravined a taste for her, and she loved it, ordering a couple of glasses over the period of their visit. By the time they finished and packed up, they had purchased a several cases of wine and 2 couples had joined our wine club. They tipped us generously and went on their way. Oh, and they cleaned up their mess, and bused their own table. Of course, I waived all the tasting fees.

Group B - the party of 4 - showed up late with no apology. They, too, had brought a picnic lunch. They asked for additional tastes of wine, and asked a lot of questions, requiring me to stand there in what was becoming a warmer and warmer environment (yes, we were in the shade, but I'm a delicate flower). They were at the winery for over 2 hours and were very needy. At the end of their visit, each couple bought 1 bottle of wine and left all their stuff for us to clean up. I charged them for 2 tastings along with the bottles of wine.

At day's end, we updated the owner about our experience, and the executive decision I made. He backed me entirely, and we discussed whether or not to change our policy. After talking to the big boss today, they accepted my suggestion that we have a minimum purchase per person in order for the tasting fee to be waived.

This is not the first time we've been faced with customers who don't get it. Most of the time, it's not a problem as long as everyone is polite. But in the current state of Covid-19 life, everything is harder and requires extra equipment and serious sterilization protocols. And like so many others, we had to shut down for a few months, and are now dealing with trying to sell wine in the extremes of heat and smoke.

So, yeah, it's gonna cost a bit more when you come to taste with us. Unless you join our wine club, or are in the wine industry. And even if you are industry, there will be expectations of appropriate behavior. We're all in this together, and we have to support each other.

Cheers! And wear your damn mask.

No comments: