Tasting visits...trifling questions.

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Anton D
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Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#1 Post by Anton D » February 26th, 2020, 4:09 pm

Questions regarding tasting visits:

1) If you go to a place you already like, are on their mailing list, or have made an appointment to visit, do you ever take an older wine made by that winery to share during your visit?

2) My wife and I like to do that, but at some places, our cellar is not exactly deep enough to manage that feat. Would you ever bring a pleasurable wine to share that is from a different winery? This is purely hypothetical, but I was thinking about what would someone bring to a visit at one of the newer wineries where we wouldn't have a mature wine to bring that was produced there. If you were going to visit MacDonald winery, would you take a mature Mondavi To-Kalon? If you went to visit Roy Piper, would you take as old a Houyi or Moulds vineyard wine that you could find? We like "honoring the host," but some places we wouldn't be well equipped enough to do that.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#2 Post by robert creth » February 26th, 2020, 4:45 pm

I am not experienced in this, but I would go at it another way. I would bring something the vineyard doesn’t produce. Maybe a champagne to someone poring Cabs, or an old Riesling to a Pinot or Syrah focused place. I would avoid direct comparisons.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#3 Post by Scott E. » February 26th, 2020, 5:05 pm

I would probably not share, but then I don't normally (ever?) taste with an owner or wine maker either. I'm curious, when you share, do you still get charged for the tasting fee? Cheers!
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#4 Post by Anton D » February 26th, 2020, 5:14 pm

Scott E. wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 5:05 pm
I would probably not share, but then I don't normally (ever?) taste with an owner or wine maker either. I'm curious, when you share, do you still get charged for the tasting fee? Cheers!
For places where we are members, we don't usually get charged as part of the list benefits. (Small groups: just my wife and I, or maybe 4 total people.)

If we are visiting a place with our family group, which is usually a place my wife and I already like and we are trying to turn the group onto it (we can range up to 8 people,) then we pay, but more often than not, our group ends up buying ample bottles to satisfy the "no charge with XXX purchase" part of some places. If there is a straight up fee, regardless of purchase, we still pay the tasting fee and share the bottle. We know people are taking time out of their day to be nice to us, so we just look at is as 'being nice in return.' Our ideal tasting visit is one where the winery people we met would like it if we came back. I realize that sounds a bit naif-ish.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#5 Post by Cris Whetstone » February 26th, 2020, 9:11 pm

This seems a bit odd to me unless you have some sort of lunch or other set up with a winemaker or other important individual.

Even then, I would want to bring something the person that lives those wines every day probably doesn't get to drink every day. Unless you had some super rare bottling from decades ago that the current individual may not have ever had a chance to try. It kind of feels like re-gifting just bringing them their own products.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#6 Post by Matt Latuchie » February 26th, 2020, 9:31 pm

On visits in the Mosel and Piedmont we did our best to open special wines with our hosts. A couple examples- ar Egon Muller we opened one of their 76 Ausleses (thx to Izzy) at Willi Schaefer we gifted them a bottle of 1976 Angelus (thx Marc) , at Conterno a 1966 Monfortino was opened (thx Izzy). In almost all cases, the hosts were extremely thrilled by our gift and would usually come back from their cellar with something equally special to open with us.

If you can swing it, I’d highly recommend doing this or something similar.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#7 Post by Karl K » February 26th, 2020, 9:56 pm

Agreed with Matt

But also agree it has to do with the nature of the visit

If you are one of 20 people here that half hour skip it

Just you and the winery team do it

Tis always better to give than receive

Bottom line: if you have the kind of relationship or established appointment where it seems like a good idea, it probably is.

I have done this before - when it felt right.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#8 Post by GregT » February 27th, 2020, 12:08 am

I agree with Robert. I've never brought a wine to the winery that made it in the first place. That would seem weird. OTOH, I've never brought a wine to any winery in the USA either. In Europe, I'd bring people wine from the US that they couldn't get there, and in those cases, only if I knew someone at that winery. As a casual tourist, I wouldn't do it. That would be like going to a restaurant with a slice of your favorite cake that you wanted to share with the owner.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#9 Post by Wes Barton » February 27th, 2020, 3:21 am

I've brought an amazingly good 25 year-old wine that James Laube awarded 68 points on release, shared it with the winemaker and other interested parties.

A multi-party visit on one occasion turned up that the mature off-vintage wine that was a favorite of a couple of us for current drinking was one the winery had not libraried and it had been 15-20 years since the winemaker had had it. Brought a bottle of that on my next visit to share.

Sometimes picnicking we'll have mature bottles. Those can be fun to share with staff who may never have had a chance to taste what the wines turn into.

On the ITB side, it's common to bring a gift wine (or a few). That can be something you made or something you know the winemaker would otherwise be interested to try. Some wineries have regular staff blind tastings which gift wines can be slotted into.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#10 Post by Mattstolz » February 27th, 2020, 3:23 am

my wife and I are visiting some places in Volnay in April, and I was planning on going a totally different route of bringing an interesting gift from where we live. specifically, since we're from SC I am planning on bringing them Sean Brock's cornbread mix. I debated pretty hard about bringing them each a bottle of Kelley Fox's wines, since I feel like she makes some very Volnay-esque wines outside of Volnay, but decided that these are people who are around wine all the time.

another example, next time I visit Patricia Green I'm bringing Jim a bottle of bourbon, not wine.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#11 Post by H Wallace Jr » February 27th, 2020, 6:23 am

Mattstolz wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 3:23 am
my wife and I are visiting some places in Volnay in April, and I was planning on going a totally different route of bringing an interesting gift from where we live. specifically, since we're from SC I am planning on bringing them Sean Brock's cornbread mix.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#12 Post by Jeff Vaughan » February 27th, 2020, 6:58 am

We've become friends with a producer in Barbaresco. When he is here, he likes to drink IPA's and wines from the USA, if he is not pouring his wines. We take or send him IPA's when visiting there. Like others, I'd recommend something special or unique from where you live unless you know of something they are particularly fond of.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#13 Post by Joel Pelote » February 27th, 2020, 7:24 am

I wonder if this is even allowed by the alcohol regulators? I know in California (wait, they have excessive regulations?) you cannot open consumer packaged beer like bottles, cans and even growlers in the brewery's tasting room.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#14 Post by Bob Davis » February 27th, 2020, 8:35 am

Joel Pelote wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 7:24 am
I wonder if this is even allowed by the alcohol regulators? I know in California (wait, they have excessive regulations?) you cannot open consumer packaged beer like bottles, cans and even growlers in the brewery's tasting room.
In Virginia it is against the law to bring in outside alcohol. Probably one of those situations where the wineries paid for protection. But, I would not bother bringing anything at least where I'm paying to taste.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#15 Post by Markus S » February 27th, 2020, 11:12 am

It does seem odd bringing something the owner makes and probably has had multiple times. If you feel like bringing something, gift something from your area, be it crabapple sauce or chicharrones. I imagine a winemaker would be quite sick of anything alcoholic working with it 30-60 hours/week.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#16 Post by K Kl@dder » February 27th, 2020, 11:40 am

I like the idea of something from your area. Perhaps another way to present it, instead of bringing something, you could follow up with a thank you shipment. Being from Chicago, sending a thank you note for the hospitality included with a Lou Malnati's frozen pizza might leave a nice, lasting impression. Also avoids having to lug thank you's all over wine country.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#17 Post by Mike Evans » February 27th, 2020, 11:52 am

Markus S wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 11:12 am
It does seem odd bringing something the owner makes and probably has had multiple times. If you feel like bringing something, gift something from your area, be it crabapple sauce or chicharrones. I imagine a winemaker would be quite sick of anything alcoholic working with it 30-60 hours/week.
I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that a winemaker has a lot of experience with older vintages from the winery. I’ve been to a number of tastings where winery owners were thrilled when people brought older wines from their wineries. Just a few examples include Evelyn de Pontbriand from Closel when I brought wines that her mother made, Barbara Selbach when a friend brought two bottles of the same wine except that one was under screwcap and the other under cork, and a local co-owner of a BerserkerBusiness when I brought one of their very limited production pet nats to a dinner since he got very few bottles himself.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#18 Post by Anton D » February 27th, 2020, 12:22 pm

Mike Evans wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 11:52 am
Markus S wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 11:12 am
It does seem odd bringing something the owner makes and probably has had multiple times. If you feel like bringing something, gift something from your area, be it crabapple sauce or chicharrones. I imagine a winemaker would be quite sick of anything alcoholic working with it 30-60 hours/week.
I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that a winemaker has a lot of experience with older vintages from the winery. I’ve been to a number of tastings where winery owners were thrilled when people brought older wines from their wineries. Just a few examples include Evelyn de Pontbriand from Closel when I brought wines that her mother made, Barbara Selbach when a friend brought two bottles of the same wine except that one was under screwcap and the other under cork, and a local co-owner of a BerserkerBusiness when I brought one of their very limited production pet nats to a dinner since he got very few bottles himself.
Some examples of what we have done...

We visited Jarvis last fall and took a 1992 Jarvis Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. The wines were from the first year they released wine and the new winemaker and the tasting guide had never experienced them, so it was a fun reason to open those bottles in a place that would share our enthusiasm.

When we go to Williams Selyem, we take an old WS wine or two, because people come and go. In 2018, my son turned 21 and his first tasting was at WS, so we took some '97s.

We took a 1982 Bonny's to Silver Oak when we visited in 2018.

Every time, the new staff had not experienced the wine and even new winemakers may not have had it.

We think of it as a way of sharing our enthusiasm and it hasn't really seemed like a recapitulation for the people who are there now.

I like the idea of alternative gifts for wineries we can't bring mature samples to!
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#19 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » February 27th, 2020, 12:54 pm

We visit far more frequently in France than in the US and the wineries generally have cellars of their own wines so, even if we decided to bring an older vintage from the US to France, it would be more like coals to Newcastle. To places we visit frequently we do bring gifts, ranging from US wines that we might think would be of interest, to the kinds of housegifts one brings in France, which runs to homemade goods, flowers, etc.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#20 Post by Russell Faulkner » February 27th, 2020, 12:59 pm

As always it depends!

If you visit Latour there’s little point taking an 80s vintage along.

If you visit Vilmart there’s every point in doing so.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#21 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 27th, 2020, 2:46 pm

I haven't tasted at a US winery in a very long time, so I'm not sure what's appropriate there. In Europe visiting producers, and in Japan visiting either breweries or artists whose pottery we're pursuing, we don't usually bring gifts unless we know the person, but we always have a bottle of very special whisky in our bag. If we get talking and friendly and it seems appropriate, we'll ask whether our host likes whisky and then propose sharing a glass. We've ended up with some wonderful evenings that started that way.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#22 Post by Anton D » February 27th, 2020, 3:22 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 2:46 pm
I haven't tasted at a US winery in a very long time, so I'm not sure what's appropriate there. In Europe visiting producers, and in Japan visiting either breweries or artists whose pottery we're pursuing, we don't usually bring gifts unless we know the person, but we always have a bottle of very special whisky in our bag. If we get talking and friendly and it seems appropriate, we'll ask whether our host likes whisky and then propose sharing a glass. We've ended up with some wonderful evenings that started that way.
Way cool.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#23 Post by Tom DeBiase » February 27th, 2020, 3:26 pm

Maybe it was all the business visits to Japan that influenced me, I normally bring something simple but special that encapsulates the US. A huge hit the past 10 years has been NY Yankee Baseball Caps. Male or female winemakers alike know the Yankees even if they have never seen a baseball. Only where we have appointments. Not saying anyone else should gift anything, just something we do.

Kinda like a US Winemaker getting a Manchester United, Juventus or Barcelona Cap.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#24 Post by Richard Albert » February 27th, 2020, 5:50 pm

I requested several importers and distributors to please set appointments for us on our honeymoon in Burgundy and Champagne back in the 80's. I selected a bottle of California wine for each of the wineries visited. The reactions were great, mostly the bottles were rapidly whisked away for tastings by the winemakers and owners. We were treated to other than the normal tasting wines! I brought a Kistler Chard to Bouchard, Schramsberg to Roederer and Pommery and a 1976 Dom and caviar to Becky Wasserman's which were consumed during the visit.
There was another killer exception, a sweetie for the Von Simmern visit I set up myself during a tasting in SF. I took a 375 ml of the exceptional 1983 Pepperwood Springs Late Harvest Chardonnay. The winemaker was Larry Parsons who was blind, there was braille on the label. The CEO during that 523rd harvest was not a Von Simmern family member, it was an outsider, Helmut Kranisch, who immediately opened it, was blown away and sent an fellow down to the wine cellar. He returned with four half bottles including a 1969 BA which we opened and drank as well, prior to an invitation being extended to the Gruenhaus, a restaurant on the property next to the Rhine where we indulged seriously late into the night.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#25 Post by Mike Evans » February 27th, 2020, 6:25 pm

Tom DeBiase wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 3:26 pm
Maybe it was all the business visits to Japan that influenced me, I normally bring something simple but special that encapsulates the US. A huge hit the past 10 years has been NY Yankee Baseball Caps. Male or female winemakers alike know the Yankees even if they have never seen a baseball. Only where we have appointments. Not saying anyone else should gift anything, just something we do.

Kinda like a US Winemaker getting a Manchester United, Juventus or Barcelona Cap.

Tom
If I was a winemaker and someone gave me a Manchester United cap or kit, it would make things pretty awkward.

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#26 Post by GregT » February 27th, 2020, 7:31 pm

Yeah but Mike, you're in Atlanta. They'd figure you had enough John Deere caps already!

Many years ago I had a friend and his mother hosted an exchange student from Paris. That guy and a few of his exchange buddies weren't necessarily the cream of the crop in the academic system. When we took him to the airport, he and his buddies had all purchased baseball bats.

Classic Americana right? They couldn't wait to use them in street fights.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#27 Post by David Baum » February 28th, 2020, 9:18 am

I know Macdonald doesn’t do very many tasting appointments and only list members. However if you’ll bring some DRC I’m sure Alex will accommodate you

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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#28 Post by Joe Webb » February 28th, 2020, 3:16 pm

Anton D wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 12:22 pm

Some examples of what we have done...

We visited Jarvis last fall and took a 1992 Jarvis Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc. The wines were from the first year they released wine and the new winemaker and the tasting guide had never experienced them, so it was a fun reason to open those bottles in a place that would share our enthusiasm.

When we go to Williams Selyem, we take an old WS wine or two, because people come and go. In 2018, my son turned 21 and his first tasting was at WS, so we took some '97s.

We took a 1982 Bonny's to Silver Oak when we visited in 2018.

Every time, the new staff had not experienced the wine and even new winemakers may not have had it.

We think of it as a way of sharing our enthusiasm and it hasn't really seemed like a recapitulation for the people who are there now.

I like the idea of alternative gifts for wineries we can't bring mature samples to!
Your doing it right, if you enjoy doing it by all means do it. Never hurts to reach out ahead as you never know who will be around midweek or weekends.

I have customers bring us wine often. Typically I do not taste it with them then, time/space/not right stemware/etc, maybe well meet for a bite or wait till we close and I run home to get the right stems. Also the ABC only allows wine from that bond to be consumed on that bonded site. Not as big issue for small guys and most wineries have beer fridges anyway, but staff may be trained to not accept. Though in the above case your brining wine to the winery that made it, good on you sounds like fun. We may be an oddball as a tasting room as we usually have at least one library wine open thanks to the Pungo's to show folks older wines.

ps. My wife worked at Jarvis as her first real full time wine industry job, what a spread they have up there.
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Re: Tasting visits...trifling questions.

#29 Post by markjchambers » February 28th, 2020, 4:09 pm

I've never gifted wine while visiting an american winery. I guess I've never had a "special" visit oaths side of the pond. On the other hand I've had some very special visits
on various European trips and in those cases I gift American wines, wines that are nothing like what they make. Most wine folks in Europe have never had a great zin or rhone ranger. When we have an exceptional visit, usually with the owner/winemaker, we'll gift a Carlisle or something similar. Always appreciated by the recipients.

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