Friday Rant: Thanks for the Invite, BUT!

It has been a while, even a long while since I have ranted but that has little to do with my state of relatively permanent angst (just ask my wife). I see the need to rant almost daily: inept drivers, corrupt politicians, even blind referees (I recently concluded my sixth year as the J.V. basketball coach at my son’s school and I think it is safe to say that the nation’s finest and brightest are not officiating J.V. basketball games). Most of my acrimony, however, is reserved for the wine world.

There is no doubt that over the last dozen years, I have been blessed as I have tasted wines, explored regions, and encountered people that I would have never thought possible when I started this blog back in early 2012. Some might say that I have been “lucky” and while they might indeed be right, I like to think that my writing (as disjointed as it often is) has had an impact (however small).

Without getting too far into it (I still like to think that I have a modicum of Midwestern modesty in me), I have received more than my fair share of recognition in the blogosphere for this little space and I feel that I have earned a bit of, well, “respect” (I wholeheartedly agree that the previous statement smacks of the Sopranos, but nonetheless..).

With that as a backdrop, I get inundated with requests daily. From wine samples, to book review requests, to bike tire offers. I get them all. Just this morning I got a press release about a new art installation in Amsterdam. Huh? Really? I would estimate that 98.6% of the emails go straight into the trash pile, but there is that 1.4% that causes me to pause.

Some of those emails that result in a little further exploration often involve the word “invitation” somewhere in the text. At this point, I feel the need to be upfront: wine blogging is not lucrative. I have yet to meet the person that is making a “killing” writing about wine. But. Wine blogging does have its perks such as a few bottles of wine to review sent your way, tasting room fees often waived, and the occasional press trip. All great but they hardly make up for the time and effort spent writing.

Most of the said invitations also include the following: “the next time you are out in [fill in the wine region], we would love to host you for a tasting.” And that is perfectly fine with me–they don’t have the budget to fly me out, but they would love to see me if I happen to be in the area. Perfect. No problem at all with that (although if you could find the airfare…).

Such was the case a couple of days ago when I received an invitation to visit and taste wines from a rather prominent (?) producer in Sonoma County. I say “prominent” but I should say “expensive” (at least relatively). I have never visited them before and I have no idea how they came across my name and email address (again, full disclosure: I have somehow made my way onto a bunch of industry mailing lists, so who knows?), but there it was, an invitation to visit. Great.

As it so happens, I am going to be out in California next week, so I thought I would take them up on their offer and stop in for a tasting with them. Fine. I have done this dozens of times and it is all rather routine.


They responded by sending me a list of possible “tasting experiences” and their associated costs. As in dollars. Many dollars. As in more dollars than I would spend for a nice dinner or a nice bottle of winee, for example.

[WARNING: This is the point when I sound like an entitled snob, or worse, so be forewarned.]

Um. Excuse me? I thought there has to be a bit of confusion since a) you invited me and b) I typically don’t pay for tastings. I know that sounds obnoxious (and it probably is), but I just checked and this is my 2,894th post on this blog, and it would not take very long to count the number of posts for which I have received any financial incentive. Thus waving a tasting fee in exchange for me possibly writing about the experience (and sharing it here) seems like a pretty good deal. At least most people seem to think so.

So I fired off an email.

I was polite. I asked if they might possibly waive the tasting fee for journalists/bloggers since, well, that is what 98.6% of wineries do.

The response indicates that they are firmly in the 1.4%:

We do not waive tasting fees for industry BUT! Every other Wednesday from 4-5 we will be pouring some of our wine complimentary for industry at [a local hotel/restaurant].

So, let me get this straight. You seek me out to invite me to your winery to “enjoy” a “wine
experience” that I would have to pay for so that I would have the privilege of writing about the “experience” for free? OR! (Notice the all caps and exclamation point) I could, if I so happen to be in town and free on the right Wednesday from precisely 4-5, I could cram into some small room at a hotel with 200 of my closest strangers, half of whom probably have Covid, to try and muscle my way up to the front to maybe get a 1.5-ounce pour of two of your wines?

Yeah. I think I will pass BUT! thanks.

Please lose my email address.



About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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6 Responses to Friday Rant: Thanks for the Invite, BUT!

  1. Julie Pedroncelli St. John says:

    You can be my guest at our winery anytime and since you’ll be in California…stop by!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne says:

    Don’t blame you one bit. Kind of like inviting someone to dinner and asking them to cook.


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