With another round of barrel tasting this weekend, I thought I’d check in with head poobah Beth Costa to see if there were any surprises at last weekend’s event — or any headaches — behind the scenes.
But before we chat it up with Costa, check out the Wine Road’s video. While it’s clearly a promotional tool, it captures the event.
Now for a few particulars …
Any challenges? Any headaches?
Costa: “Large groups are the biggest challenge. We request no full-size buses, but wineries were still overrun with them. Most of our wineries simply cannot manage groups of 25-35 people showing up at once. There is no room in the cellar, the buses block parking lots, and generally end up causing problems for the wineries they visit. Time after time, other tasters simply leave wineries when a big bus pulls up. It’s by far the biggest complaint we get during events. In the event program, we do highlight the wineries that also have requested no groups of 8 or more … again it’s simply space constraints, and we need customers to respect those wineries wishes. If you have a group of friends all heading out together, choose wineries to visit that have the space to accommodate groups.”
Is the demographic of barrel tasting changing?
Costa: “It’s definitely changing. Wineries are attracting more and younger buyers, but as I’ve said before, they are a bit more sophisticated in their tastes and expectations. They buy top shelf alcohol, micro brewed beers and limited release wines. This is not the Annie Green Springs generation. I checked in a group of eight, 24 year olds that have all been friends since high school. They flew in from Boston for the event. They were dressed up and excited to be here, exploring wine country and expanding their wine knowledge.”
Costa expects a good crowd again this weekend, with 7,000 advance tickets sold and 105 wineries pouring. (www.wineroad.com)