I have visited a lot of Texas wineries. Okay, really a lot. The one thing I have learned during my travels is every winery is different as to how much a wine tasting costs, how many wines you get to taste, and if there is any food offered. I have had new wineries even ask me how much they should charge.
In a recent visit to the Fredericksburg, Texas area, we visited a number of wineries and took notes as to what the wineries we visited offered the customer. By the way, did I mention that the Texas Hill Country was voted one of the top 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in 2014 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine?
One winery had a few wines to taste and the tasting fee was the rare complimentary. Other prices ranged differently depending on the amount of wines offered for the tasting, but the average cost per taste was $1.67 to $2.67. Now a few of these include the tasting glass with the fee, so that may explain some of the higher costs per taste. By the way, I have been told before by a winery that they include the tasting glass because they do not want to wash them!
While you’re tasting the wines, you usually want a palate cleanser to help keep the taste of one wine separate from the next. Most wineries have a bowl of crackers or pretzels on the tasting bar available for that purpose, but that practice does seem uncommon along Highway 290 in the Fredericksburg area. I can understand why though, because with the volume of traffic going through the tasting rooms on the weekends, customers would probably just eat their lunch and dinner by eating the available free food.
What do the wineries offer instead? At some wineries, food can be purchased such as cheeses, meats, crackers, vegetarian pates, olives, guacamole (it is Texas!), and chocolates. As indicated, these are all an additional cost varying on the item but if you plan on staying at a winery for any length of time, it is a good purchase to help cleanse your palate in addition to providing food while tasting. Plus, if you decide to get a glass and enjoy it on a nice patio, you may have some food left over to enjoy with that glass of wine.
After you’ve done the tasting, you usually decide if you want to purchase any bottles of wine. A number of wineries will waive the tasting fee if a certain number of bottles are purchased, with the common number being three from the wineries we recently visited.
In our example of busy Highway 290 on a weekend, some tasting bars are three people deep. What do you do then? If you don’t like crowds and trying to get the attention of a tasting guide, a few wineries are now offering for a higher tasting fee a private tasting. These can range from $20 per person for 5 wines including a food pairing, to $24.95 for 6 wines but you get to keep a Riedel glass. There are even more expensive private tastings available for library wines not generally available in the normal tasting room, and sometimes they come with a tour of the winery. The best thing is the number of people you are tasting with is really small and you can enjoy your experience. After all, isn’t wine tasting really about the experience?