Free Tastings Bite the Dust

For the first time ever, more wineries in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa charge for tasting than do not.

That is one of the key findings of  our‘ Direct to Customer Benchmarking that has just now been completed.

I really think that the University of Central Florida’s Robin Back (Cousin of Charles Back of Fairview fame) can take a lot of the credit here. He was the first to carry out research that confirmed that people actually buy more wine when they pay for tastings.

We’ve therefore pushed this hard to the 200 plus wine business owners and senior managers who have attended our workshops over the last 12 months across the three countries.

It’s very pleasing to see that wineries have now completed the revolution.

Logically, if you are given something for free, you value it less. It was great to see this proven in research. Better to see wineries do something about it.

A lot of the resistance has been down to a fear of upsetting people who for too long have been using the wine industry as free entertainment.

That is all changing.

Those wineries that are charging are getting that, in order command a fee, the entertainment product must be better.

Tasting fees also mean more money to pay for better staff and the training thereof.

All of this is good for our industry.

The ‘Taking the Direct Route 2017’ Direct to Customer Benchmarking report can be purchased by following this link or email [email protected] for more details.


1 thought on “Free Tastings Bite the Dust”

  1. Charging for tastings are very much the norm in South Africa, but less so in Australia & NZ.

    I am certainly of the view that people attribute value when charged & that it reduces tyre kickers & those that see vineyard tastings as an easy way to drink for free without buying.

    I also believe that waiving tasting fees with the purchase of wine is a good way to encourage & reward sales – while still instilling value in the tasting experience in the tasters mind.

    My understanding is that Stellenbosch introduced tasting fees years ago to actively dissuade local University students from arriving on mass each weekend, drinking & not buying. The tasting fee appears to have worked.

    My only concern in South Africa, is that many vineyards are now charging quite high tasting fees (especially given the relatively local low wages & wine bottle prices), which in my view don’t really reflect the ‘marketing’ costs. So a balancing point is also important.

    Your recent WinePaper 49 signalled that over 50’s are the sweet-spot for wine-buyers……..which also reflects incomes & net worth. However the future for wine sales lies with generations born in the 1990’s and later, who currently have less disposable income, are in their 20’s, and have an ever increasing set of drinking choices at their disposal, so setting tasting fees at reasonable levels is also important to encourage exploration.

    One only has to look at the growing number of $AUD 50+ wines, and those that have very quickly doubled & tripled in price (eg: Penfolds Bin 389 / 407) to realise that enjoying high quality wine is becoming increasingly elitist & out of reach for many.

    Yes drink & forget Savvy’s & Grigio’s can be found for well under $15, & that NZ Savvy is Australia’s favourite wine of choice, but is that what the industry & customers really want?

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