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Growing trend for Okanagan wineries to stop waiving tasting fees

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

Logan Saunders has done 22 wine tastings in the past year in Lake Country, Kelowna, Oliver and Osoyoos on three different tours with his friends.

The Vernon man took notes to review the wineries and discovered a changing trend in the industry – few wineries waive tasting fees with purchase anymore.

“All had tasting fees that were at least 10 dollars, the most expensive one we encountered charged 15 dollars, and none of them waived the fees with purchase,” he said.

That tour was of Kelowna wineries but it was similar in the south Okanagan where only two out of eight wineries waived the tasting fee when they bought a bottle of wine, although most wineries he tried in Lake Country still waived.

The Wine Growers of British Columbia confirmed the trend and said the time has simply come. Spokesperson Lindsay Kelm said inflation is being felt everywhere.

“Costs used to be all rolled into the tasting fee but the costs of everything are going up, even the cost of wine glasses,” she said. “Some wineries are actually losing money if they don’t charge for tastings in a lot of cases. Some would be able to make the decision to continue to roll that in while for some based on the amount of sales and tastings it just might not be feasible from a business perspective.”

Saunders said one winery he and his friends stopped at in Osoyoos was charging 27 per person and they were told at the door that the winery didn’t “do splash and dashes.”

“You had to sit down for a while, it was a longer tasting with more to it, but we’d never heard the term ‘splash and dash’ before, it sounded like a derogatory term like ‘we can’t have you splashers in here,’” he said.

Saunders doesn’t think the trend will deter wine lovers.

“People are there just for the experience and they’ll come through anyway.”

What wineries do you know that still waive tasting fees? Let us know in the comments below and we'll compile a list.

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