Monday, October 17, 2011
For Assistance at our Tasting Room, Just YELP!
Kathy is the absolute queen when it comes to looking for Internet bargains, no more so than when searching for complimentary tastings at Cali wineries. And she doesn’t just limit herself to a Google search for tasting room coupons, no ma’am. Between e-mail-blast sites such as Groupon and livingsocial, her blindingly fast typing fingers have yielded some truly stellar half-price deals.
Well, now Yelp has entered the Internet discount deal fray, and Kath discovered a “$25 for $50” worth of wine at Keating Wines, one of our favorite boutique producers in Sonoma. The Yelp Deals certificate is valid for a full year from date of online purchase; you just print the sucker out at home, and present it at the venue.
Now, it just so happened that Cline Cellars, down the road from Keating, was releasing its new wine club selections. And Gloria Ferrer, directly across said road from Keating, was offering a twofer via an online coupon from WineCountry.com. So with Cline and sister winery Jacuzzi across the street from each other, and Keating and Gloria Ferrer staring across the road at themselves, and the former pair separated from the latter pair by a mere mile or so, Kathy and I decided to make quick, civilized jaunt up north for a little one-stop slurping.
We stopped first at Cline, where club membership truly does have its privileges, and walked out with our wine selections: Bonus! The two reds were a Zin and a Carignane, both made from our ancient Oakley grapes.
Next, we hit the Jacuzzi. There were two full tour buses in the lot, and as expected, we had to jostle ourselves into position at the tasting bar. It’s always fun at Jacuzzi, and their focus on Italian varietals, some extremely obscure, but still finding small acreage in California, is a great way to get a New World spin on the Old World. Our pourer even pulled out extra bottles for us. Class act.
OK, from there it was off to the Cornerstone plaza up the road. Cornerstone is home to the “big blue Adirondack chair,” a giant whimsical sculpture (see Kathy’s photo) in the center of this outdoor mini-complex comprising winetasting, food, a market and other sundry merch. It’s also the home to Keating, a sleek, elegant winery tasting room with a small card, but everything on it is a gem. We left with two vineyard-designated Sonoma Zinfandels, and by the time Kath’s Yelp Deals certificate was factored in, she had to top up the purchase with an additional six bucks. Most of that being tax.
And the Big Blue Adirondack House is also home to another one of our fave small tasting rooms: Meadowcroft Wines, located mere feet and one of my bad bocce (court nearby) tosses. Maybe that’s why my Cambridge professor bro calls me a “tosser.” Hmm, in the UK, It doesn’t mean the same thing.
At Meadowcroft, we have always had a superb experience. We’ve visited several times, and the last time, several months ago, cool dude Patrick just hooked us up with wine selections most memorably.
This day, pourer Darby was an absolute highlight of the day, though we still had a bubbly coupon to redeem across the street. We spent a lot of time chatting with her, and a sympathetic blend of wine knowledge, personality and BS-detector emerged right away. Kathy and I started talking, as we are prone to do, about the Three Circles of Tasting Room Hell (for them both in front and behind the rail). There are the folks who taste everything available, ask for what the trade calls a “revisit,” then do not buy a thing, not even a postcard if the room has a merch shop.
But, as you may already know if you’ve read this thang before, our big beefs are reserved for tasting bar hogs (you know, the couple that has their pour in a crowded room, but is resolved to stay, legs akimbo, shoulder to shoulder as if they are determined to hang on to that estate foreclosure). We tell the story of, over a decade ago when we lived in San Francisco, of the manager of a well-known-winery’s tasting room bellowing for people at the bar to “move down, we have people who want to taste!”
And then there’s the “bachelorette party.” We’ve talked before about the busload of 20 drunk chicks, one wearing a tiara and a sash, each clutching a plastic cup previously holding a Cosmo, then walking (being generous here) into a tasting room.
Discussing this with Darby, a 2011 Meadowcroft tasting room manager, schooled me. Call me Gramps, man. She recounted how Patrick, one of the coolest winery ambassador cats available, had to pour for a bachelorette party: They complained about everything, apparently the party was taking photos of each other’s breasts, and they were more than half in the bag already. Patrick diplomatically worked the wine and cheesiness to a diplomatic conclusion. Or so he thought.
Next day (or however long it actually took her to “recover”), someone from the Duchess’ party posted a scathing review of the winery on Yelp. Patrick was devastated for the winery’s reputation.
Darby hipped me to the reality that this “Age of Yelp” means that anyone can knee-jerk a post and it’s readable worldwide forever. That great, hardcore Napa tasting room manager I mentioned earlier, telling folks to respect newcomers, wouldn’t see two more weeks of employment these days. One, maybe two indignant tasters would have conspired to bring her down. Hey, as Darby says, it’s the Age of Yelp.
I’ve always hated that old saw that “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.” Dude, that is crap: You are entitled to your own opinion if you can articulate why.” And don’t go all Wiki, Wiki, Wiki on me. I’d sure love to see what would happen if someone decided to change the spelling of “Wikipedia.”
The Internet can get you some great deals at 50% off. Sometimes half off the real story isn’t one of them.
Gawd, I need a glass of wine.