“Industry” Guests

Free Tasting Taking a quick break from harvest (HARVEST!!!) to get a little rant off my chest.

Dear “Industry”:

Please don’t come into my tasting room, flash some sort of business card, announce that you are “in the industry” and demand a free tasting for you and your friends.

Not gonna happen.

We don’t give free tastings to anyone anymore, except to our Wine Club members. Our production is tiny. We pour over 25% of our inventory in the tasting room – think about that.

I appreciate that the winery where you have worked for all of two weeks gives free tastings to “industry.” I imagine that the fraction of that winery’s hundred-thousand-case-plus annual production that gets poured off in the tasting room is on the order of a rounding error. Just because some wineries do pour free to “industry” does not mean that you should expect that every one will.

And hey, take your shitty attitude with you when you leave. I will have forgotten about you in a few days, and don’t expect we will cross paths again.

We won’t hesitate to keep referring our guests to the tasting room at the winery where you currently work, because I have known the owner there for decades and he’s a great guy making great wines, and lord knows I have also made hiring mistakes in the past.

Sincerely, and with all due respect,
The owner, winemaker, and dictator of free tasting policy.

5 thoughts on ““Industry” Guests

  1. Samantha Dugan

    Amen. Always baffled me why people in our industry, who know how little money there actually is in it, expect/demand/want free shit or discounts. Seems to me if anyone they should know better.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      A friend told me a story of a guy who came in to taste, flashed a card expecting a free tasting, and then told my friend that he didn’t even work for the winery he had the card for. The guy had helped the winery set up their website four years before, and as partial payment asked for 75,000 business cards so he could “get free tastings and industry discounts for life.” Really?

      Look, it is my pleasure to “take care of” my friends. I will extend professional courtesy to other commercial winemakers. Even some wine writers would get the professional courtesy. If someone is actually already involved in selling my wine, they get benefits. I will go so far as to extend benefits to someone I think MIGHT actually place an order with us, but that is entirely a judgment call. Usually within 5 minutes of starting our conversation I know whether or not you are serious, or just blowing smoke. Finally, and again totally at my discretion, I might comp someone who I have found sufficiently amusing in our interaction over the wine.

      But just because someone worked in food & beverage at a restaurant or hotel, or owns a wine shop that never has and never will order from us, or has a cards saying they passed their WSET (or whatever), or works part-time in a tasting room, or lives in the same town I do – those are not qualifiers.

      And I don’t care who the hell you think you are, if you come into my place of business leading with your business card and the first thing out of your mouth is “I’m not interested in tasting your wines unless you are going to comp me…” well, don’t let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya.

  2. Thomas Pellechia

    John, you need some anger management. I can help, but how do I show you my card?

    My wife once had to throw me out of the tasting room for fear that I was chasing away what she naively thought of as customers.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      I don’t think I am angry, but I am incredulous and aghast at the arrogant presumption of some people. Geoff Nunberg has written a book called “Ascent of the A Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years” that is particularly apropos in this context.

      A “customer” by definition is someone who buys something from me. Someone who demands a freebie before even hinting that they might become a customer is nothing but a parasite.

      I mean, who walks into a jewelry store and tells the owner “gimme something free and maybe I’ll buy something else later”? Who do they think they are, Lindsay Lohan?


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