Disappointing Trend

After this weekend of wine tasting in Northern Virginia with our friends Paul and Warren, I have become aware of an increasing trend, wineries not allowing outside food available on the premises. Except for a few exceptions, I have never noticed wineries posting signs stating such regulations, but 3 of the four wineries this weekend had newly placed such signs.

I am pretty sure this new occurrence is not related to new state legislation so I am even further perplexed. Of the 3 wineries 2 offered a little bit of food (soup, cheese plates and baguettes) although none offered substantial food for lunch. I don’t think (or hope) this is an issue of the wineries trying to squeeze more money out of us. If it is the later, I would make a suggestion to wineries thinking of offering light food options and not allowing outside food on the premises (including patios and porches). If Megan and I head to a winery with a picnic basket full of food, after we participate in the tasting, we are going to pick up a bottle of wine, most likely costing from $12 to $25, to enjoy with our food. If we can’t for some reason eat at that winery, we move on to the next one and the winery loses out on the extra bottle we would have purchased above what we were taking home and the winery ultimately loses money. Who is that good for?

If anyone has any insight on this issue please comment or email me. And to Virginia wineries that are starting to implement or thinking of having such rules, please reconsider.


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Categories: virginia wine, wine industry issues | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Disappointing Trend

  1. How very strange. All the wineries we’ve visited up in this area actively encourage you to bring a picnic lunch and sit on the porch with a glass or bottle of their wine. I could definitely see them not wanting you to bring outside alcohol, liability plus, they want you to buy from them! However, if they don’t have full service food available and it’s only cheese and crackers for sale, I don’t see what the problem with picnicing on their porch should be.

  2. vcuspoon

    Hey Megan
    Yeah I have always had the same experience as you at most of the wineries in Virginia as well as ones in other states and countries. As to the porch thing, I can’t believe that either, I mean what is the point of having a beautiful patio and porch if you aren’t going to let people really enjoy themselves with some food to go along with their wine. Plus if people are drinking bottles of wine on the premises it isn’t great for them to do that on an empty stomach.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. lori

    Hey, You are visiting a winery. Not a restaurant and not a state park. It is also private property. How many producers in CA or Europe serve “any” food. Very, very few. Crackers, cheese, be glad you got that. Want anything else to go with your wine, buy a bottle and go to a park or a restaurant or maybe your home. But the winery’s main function is to make and sell wine, period.

  4. vcuspoon

    Hi Lori
    I don’t think you understood mypost. I don’t think wineries need to serve food, I just think that if I want to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine at their winery, I should be able to snack on my food that I BROUGHT WITH ME!

    Please the read post thoroughly before you go off on a rant. I understand the wineries main function is make wine and not to make food, I said nothing to dispute that


  5. lori

    Wow John, Must you YELL.

    When you go to a restaurant, do you bring food? If you bring your on bottle of wine, and most restaurants do not allow this, you pay a fee. Do you go to your accountant and bring a calculator and ask for a desk and a chair. For the Virginia wine industry to advance to the next level we must get away from this “event/cocktail hour” mentality.

    Remember, It is all about the wine.

  6. vcuspoon

    I wasn’t yelling, just making my point emphatically because you had misunderstood my post. Do I bring food to a restaurant or a calculator to an accountant no, but I don’t bring wine to a winery. Your comments do not seem to have any correlation with the objective of my post.

    I do agree with you that the need for the Virginia wine industry to move away from the event/cocktail hour but that really doesn’t have anything to do with my point except to solidify it.


  7. Going out for tastings isn’t just about the wine, it is about the experience. When we are out tasting, even at a local event, we are likely to visit someplace to get some food, and it won’t be McBurger’s. On our extended trips, we are driving considerable distances between wineries in rural areas. We will build a picnic lunch and will never pop open a bottle of wine on the road.

    I have seen tasting rooms with various policies. If I remember correctly, at Bonny Doon, no alcohol consumption was aloud out side the tasting room. Benziger Family Winery encourages a picnic lunch. We’ve seen everything in between.

    I can invent various reasons why tasting rooms are not allowing food. Perhaps getting into communication with the manager to get the true data would be a course of action.

  8. vcuspoon

    Well said taster A!! Thanks for the comment.

    I am diving into the issue for further info. I will post if I get any updates.

    See ya

  9. lori

    John, Let me try again to explain. There are two main reasons why wineries do not allow food from home. First, there is a real cost to the winery by having someone bring their own food. Usually this party needs from the winery, napkins, forks, spoons or knives. Additionally this party will leave their trash for the winery to dispose. Lastly, this party is taking up space that otherwise would be available to another party who are buying food from the winery. Another reason is more artistic. From your site I see that you are in to good wine and good food and probably bring food to a winery that might pair nicely with the winemakers wine. However, not all winery customers are wine or food geeks. A winemaker would not like to see or have other customers see his or her wines, that are his or her artistic expression, being paired with a bucket of chicken or a happy meal. Wineries that do serve food, usually have spent great time in selecting foods that pair with and help to showcase their wine. If a winery allows you to bring food from home, well thats great. Just do not fault the winery who doesn’t and think or write that they “are trying to squeeze more money out of us”. That is not the case at all.

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