Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas - What's Happening to Virginia Wineries?

It is with great saddness that I write this post.

As you all know, I am a big fan and proponent of Virginia wines, especially those that come from our region. By and large they are a wonderful celebration of our rich Virginia bounty (and Fauquier County, too) and a link to our cultural heritage.

Having said that, I must now share the unpleasant experience my husband and I had at one of the newer wineries this past Thanksgiving weekend. If this is a trend in our wine industry, it's a very sad day indeed for Virginia.

We went to Sky Meadow State Park for their holiday festival which was lovely. We bought gorgeous, fresh pine, hand made wreaths to hang at the farm.

We stopped at winery down the road to buy wine for the holidays. We had never been to Three Foxes Winery before. It's a beautiful place and was packed with people.

We made our way to the tasting bar and a cheerful person poured us samples of their various
wines. We cautioned her each time that we only wanted a drop to taste the wine - not a full pour. We bought four bottles. (Their's are not cheap wines, folks. The wines we picked were $22-24 dollar a bottle.) We charged the wines to our American Express card and went on our way.

When we got home, (and this is the part I am so angry about) we looked at the bill and noticed that we were charged $8.00 for wine tasting in addition to the cost of the bottles of wine.

$8.00!!!!

Between us, we barely had half a glass of wine when you added up all the tastes.

They had a sign, which I saw, that wine tasting was $4.00 per person but it's been the custom in Virginia wineries (up till now at least) that tasting fees are waived when you make a purchase. (Actually wineries call the fees "refunded" rather than waived.)

I can well understand the need to charge people who only come for free wine and never make a purchase but when you make a purchase - a substantial purchase in our case - this charge for tasting is down right offensive!

If their tasting fee had been a dollar or two, I might not be so mad but four dollars - each!

I emailed Three Foxes asking for a refund of the fee, suggesting it must have been mistake in billing. I was courteous and nice. It's been three days and they haven't responded. Now I'm mad!

I'll give them a couple of more days, then I'll take the wine back and get a refund - not of my $8.00, I'm sure, but I don't want to serve their wine any more.

So beware this holiday season when you are making a trek out into our beautiful Virginia country side for wine. Ask about tasting fees at every winery you stop.

We're becoming, I'm afraid, a jungle of wineries out there looking to pick your pocket at every turn.

Our wineries, instead of offering you a sample to demonstrate pride in their harvest, are becoming wine bars with state tax protection as "farms."

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes and tempting tips for easy holiday entertaining.

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