Wine Yakima Valley came up with a really good idea, or so they thought. Why not upgrade the annual Spring Barrel Tasting to a class event and charge $35 to attend. This fee would encourage wineries to upgrade their offerings, since people paid good money for the ticket and would have higher expectations, and it would weed out the riffraff. After all, only serious wine tasters would pay $35 for a ticket to sample wine from the barrel along with ultra-premium, hand-crafted, award-winning, micro-oxygenated, wines.
We here at Bonair Winery are not members of WYV, but we roll out the barrel anyway since people aren't aware that there are two organizations and each is not cheap to join. Next year, Bonair is considering being open, but not doing barrel sampling that weekend. After all, we have our Barrel Tasting Rattlesnake Hills Style the weekend before. Barrel Tasting Rattlesnake Hills Style is a fairly quiet event with serious wine drinkers trying to beat the party crowd the following weekend. And BTRHS remains a free event. We appreciate the fact that our visitors come to sample and buy wine.
On SBT we had to deal with 5 full-sized buses, several smaller buses, and an untold number of limos. Buses are the biggest problem. I wouldn't be too grumpy if they drank real beer on the bus, but they drink a fermented rice beverage called Buttwiper made by a company call Andhowsyourbush?. We have a person meet each bus to tell them it is against state law to bring alcohol onto the licensed premise. We also tell them if they appear in the least intoxicated we will not serve them. Then they appear at my tasting station with a Buttwiper soaked Riedel glass (that's class), a wrist band, and tell me, "just pour me anything." Meaning I don't give a shit as long as it is alcohol. "I paid for this binge and I'm out to get smashed." One bus claimed one of our pourers was not friendly (imagine that; faced by 50 unbeer drinking alcoholics) and promised not to return next year. Unfortunately we didn't get it in writing, but if you are reading this, thank you, you won't be missed.
Cutting down the amount of alcohol is the only way to bring WYV's SBT under control. (Some wineries have several barrel samples!) plus all the bottled wine. (Don't forget the Cores Light, brewed with Rocky Mountain goat piss, on the bus or in the motor home.) I would recommend that each winery choose a barrel to sample, a corresponding bottle sample, and one other wine. Three samples total at each winery.
In Grumpy's opinion, charging for the event has turned it into a prepaid, all-you-can-drink free-for-all drunk. "I paid my money, I have a wrist band that looks like I escaped from a mental hospital (or am staying at a time-share condo) and now I'm out to get my share of all the booze I can consume."