Deals for locals at the cellar door

South African wine peeps don’t realise how good they’ve got it. I should probably qualify that as Western Cape peeps – those within spitting distance of the most beautiful wine country in the world and some of the most affordable and world class wine tourism offerings to be found anywhere. But yet tasting room staff and cellar door managers will all have stories of people who get stroppy and rude when told that they have to pay to taste wines, or who want to know what the rates are for locals.

I don’t get it?!

Sure there are a few cellars who are having a laugh, with seemingly pointless prices (is Vergelegen still charging an entrance fee?) and there are some with slack service and crappy wines that don’t command the tasting fee. But lets be honest, most farms who charge for tasting are asking punters to cough up R10 to R25 to taste around 6 wines. And the wine farms that are worth visiting are usually producing decent wines which is why the visitors are there in the first place. You would be hard pressed to find any cellar door that expects to come close to covering their costs with their tasting fees. R15 is a beer+tipĀ  in a decent Cape Town bar. So why don’t locals ask for a discount at a bar? Would you pop round to Aubergine and ask to taste a few of the things on the menu so that you can decide if you want to order anything?

It frustrates me that a handful of local visitors to the winelands feel that they are owed something extra because they took the time to come out to the farms. If you feel that the prices are exhorbitant, don’t go. The guys asking for the specials are often those who don’t purchase much and seem to think that making wine is a very cheap thing to do; a service that farms provide to the public as opposed to a business. The cellar door offering does in part form a piece of the wineries promotional mix, but most offer excellent value and the fees are more like a means to prevent abuse.

Cellars who pump up their prices in tourist high season or who are going to have a coincidental price increase on the 1st of June, don’t really deserve the continued support of locals. Get online and talk about your experiences. Spit or swallow and WineMe are good examples of useful resources where visitor opinions count. Talk with your feet and the good value offerings will continue to be successful.

One Response to “Deals for locals at the cellar door”

  1. Batonage says:

    Chris – I agree with most of what you say. What I do find irritating is the very few farms who do not redeem your tasting fee against a 6 bottle purchase. Or those guys in Wellington who charge R250 a tasting (are they insane?) But expecting to taste for free is nonsense. If the product and service is up to standard, then a fee should be charged. It also keeps the riff raff away.