Tasting Room and Winery Consumer Survey Results

Surveys were conducted online at CaliforniaWineryAdvisor.com. Surveys are not scientific. Respondents were limited to one vote.

What is a Reasonable Tasting Fee?

We recently posted a survey asking our web site users about wine tasting fees. While this was not a scientific survey we think the results are valid and interesting. We asked the question “What is a reasonable tasting fee?” We offered eight different responses, ranging from no fee to over $10, and then included the options of crediting purchases or keeping a free wine glass.


  • 30%     $ 5.00
  • 29%     No fee
  • 14%     Doesn’t matter if fee is credited to purchase
  • 11%     $ 3.00
  • 7%       $ 8.00
  • 4%       $ 10.00
  • 3%       Doesn’t matter if you can keep the glass
  • 1%       More than $10.00

Our goal was to keep the survey simple by not introducing multi-tiered or “Reserve Tasting” fees, and we did not complicate the process by including the number of pours that a taster receives. Also we did not mention VIP tasting programs that range upwards of $25 to $75 and more. We plan to address the popularity of these programs at a later date.


The data shows that most respondents believe a $5 fee is more reasonable than a $3 fee although a free tasting was almost as popular. If this question was asked a couple of years back we suspect more respondents would have selected the no fee option because charging for tasting in some places is still relatively new. The $10 fee and the more than $10 fee options were not surprisingly too popular.


What surprised us was the low interest (2.8%) in collecting those nifty wine glasses. Wineries have spent good money providing quality stemware to their tasting rooms enhancing the tasting experience– and providing a nice take-away. This practice is almost universal in Santa Barbara County and offered in other regions as well. However respondents do not seem to want to add another logo glass to their collections.


Offering to credit the tasting fee to purchases scored higher (14%) but not at the level we expected. Many wineries note that their fee can be credited on their tasting menus while others offer it only to close a sale.


Of course what a winery charges has to do with their own unique regional situation. Wineries far from town may need to offer free tasting to lure buyers out to their more remote locations. Other wineries may have high fees to cut down on the “sport taster”, or it may be a very conscious effort to position their winery as very exclusive.


What is your favorite way to follow a winery?


Wineries are smartly continually seeking to connect directly and their customers. Communicating with your friends and fans can take many forms.  We asked this question to determine how the consumer wants their information. Of course this non-scientific survey was asked online, so we would expect a heavy leaning towards web related resources– and we were not disappointed.
It was clear that Facebook and the winery’s website were the favorites with 72% of the votes. Twitter was a distant 4th place. However, keep in mind your best customers may prefer a less popular communication method.  A similar survey might be in order for your own customer list to determine what works best. Segmenting that questionnaire by your club customer and your general list might be worth the effort.



  • 40% Facebook
  • 32% Winery Website
  • 16% Email Newsletter
  • 5.5% Twitter
  • 3% Printed Newsletter
  • 3% other

What Events at the Winery Do you Like Best?

In a recent wine consumer survey we asked site visitors to select their favorite winery event. We gave them nine choices. Wine and Music events ranked first with 30% selecting this as their favorite event. 

The next three events, Gourmet Dinners, Food & Wine Pairings, and Harvest Events were roughly even with 13%. Casual food events and Club Pick –Up Parties followed with 9% and 7% respectively. Garnering 4% or less was Wine & Art Events, Murder Mystery Events, Movie Nights and Friday Night Wine Downs.

Of course this was not a scientific survey and perhaps those who voted were familiar with a recent concert they attended and maybe not have understood what a Wine Down is, but the results favor entertainment and food beyond just wine tasting. Almost 40% of respondents selected events with food if you combine the three food related options.  This probably isn’t vine shaking news to any of us but instructive all the same. 


  • 30% Wine & Music
  • 14% Gourmet Dinners
  • 13% Food & Wine Pairings
  • 13% Harvest Events
  • 9%   Casual Food Events
  • 7%   Wine Club Pick up Parties
  • 4%   Wine & Art Events
  • 3%   Movie Nights
  • 3%   Murder Mystery Events
  • 2%   Wine Downs

Visitors to wineries obviously like wine, but enjoy it more when it is combined with an associated activity. You may gain a new customer who likes jazz but may not be familiar with your winery. A future customer may attend an event knowing that their non-drinking spouse will be entertained by some other diversion. Wine by itself is good, wine accompanying another enjoyable activity is usually better.

What Wine Club Benefit do You Rate the Highest?

We asked our site visitors this question forcing them to only one response. The results are a bit surprising to us with Free Tasting at the tasting room ranking the highest and wine club events coming in 4th. 

Wine Club events take lots of effort but if managed successfully should also be an opportunity for wineries to sign up more club members (Club Members Remember You Can Bring up to Four Friends!) and sell additional wine (Club Members Discount Today Only).


  • 37%   Free Tasting at Tasting Room
  • 34%   Discounted Wine
  • 15%   Wine Club Only Wines
  • 6%     Wine Club Events
  • 5%     Ability to Customize Wine Club Selections
  • 3%     other

Other Winery Advisor Survey Results

What is your most reliable source of wine information?

  • 38%   Friend
  • 15%   Online Blog
  • 16%   Winery Website
  • 12%   Wine Shop Staff
  • 10%   Newspaper & Magazine Article
  • 8%     Wine Steward


How much do you spend on your regular house wine at home?

  • 34%   $10 to $13 per bottle
  • 27%   $6 to $9 per bottle
  • 24%   $14 to $24 per bottle
  • 8%     $20 or more per bottle!!
  • 6%     $$2 to $5 per bottle


What wine region offers the best tasting room experience?

  • 35%   Sonoma
  • 23%   Paso Robles & San Luis Obispo
  • 19%   Napa Valley
  • 9%     Santa Barbara
  • 4%     Sierra Foothills
  • 3%     Lake County
  • <2%   Lodi, Temecula, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz & Livermore


To comment or have an idea for a online survey click here.