I don’t have any first-hand experience in Finger Lakes tasting rooms, so I can’t comment much on the latter article, but the one in the Times I definitely can. In fact, I was interviewed for it, even if none of my quotes made it in.
As I read the story for a second time, I’m disappointed on several fronts.
First, I’m disappointed that people act like that in tasting rooms. But, in some ways it’s inevitable when alcohol is involved. No matter their age, there will always be adults who aren’t mature enough to enjoy alcohol in a respectful way.
Another reason I’m disappointed is because of the wineries included in the story. Pindar, Duck Walk, Martha Clara, Pugliese, and to a lesser extent, Palmer Vineyards are the types of places that I would expect more of this bad behavior to take place. Why is that? Well, as I told Mr. Kilgannon, they have atmosphere’s that are more conducive to the rowdy, frat party crowds. Cheap glassware, cheap (or non-existent) tasting fees and their overall "feel" attracts trouble more so than other tasting rooms I think.
So does staff not trained or confident enough to turn people away or at least stop serving alcohol to people who are clearly already intoxicated. I’ve seen tasting room visitors turned away or refused tastes–but never at the places mentioned in this story.
Of course, I am in no way taking the blame away from the idiots who ruin the tasting room experience for those of us who are more interested in a relaxing visit to the bucolic, beautiful North Fork. But, the wineries in question certainly aren’t without fault as well. Putting up "no limos" and "no buses" signs are a start though (even if they started appearing at least a year ago, not this year).
That could be part of the reason that I wasn’t quoted. Much of what I said didn’t go along with the story that was originally printed. Nena and I go to tasting rooms at least a couple times per month–always on weekend afternoons–and we haven’t seen any drunken idiots in a couple years. Have we come across people who are drunk? Sure, but not obnoxiously so and they aren’t causing any problems.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t see it as anywhere near as big a problem as these two stories make it out to be…because I just don’t see it when I’m out there. I can’t imagine people stripping down naked and running through the vineyards at Shinn Estates or Roanoke Vineyards. I can’t imagine a bachelorette party table dancing at Bedell Cellars, Lenz Winery or Paumanok Vineyards. This story in the Times would have had more impact, I think, if it included quotes or information these tasting rooms. I think a more diverse, representative group of tasting rooms would have been good for this story.
In the end, maybe it is just about where you go and what overall ‘feel’ a tasting room has. Visit Long Island wine country a few times and you’ll quickly be able to figure out for yourself which tasting rooms are about the wine and which are about the party.
Have you guys run across drunken fools much?