Big Rick Stuart
The price of a tasting has almost doubled in Napa and Sonoma in the past five years
If you haven't been to a California winery for a tasting visit in a while, you might experience sticker shock. The average price for a standard tasting fee has almost doubled in five years and is now $58 in Napa County and $30 in Sonoma County.
This was one of the most striking figures released today from Silicon Valley Bank's 2021 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Survey Report. The report is based on self-reported data from 460 US wineries. The majority (69 percent) are in California; only 35 (7.6 percent) are outside the West Coast.
The survey lists the average standard tasting fee in the US as $25, but that is brought up by Napa and Sonoma, as only those regions average more than that. Paso Robles, Oregon and Santa Barbara have average tasting fees between $21 and $24. Washington state is the bargain region for tasting: high-quality wines with an average fee of $15.
Many wineries also reported having a higher "reserve tasting" fee, which averages $90 in Napa and $50 in Sonoma. Once again, Washington state is the value play, with average reserve tasting fees of just $20.
"Over the past 20 years, wineries have moved from walk-in to a by-appointment model only when forced by local regulations," the report says. "Covid-19 restrictions forced wineries into by-appointment in 2020. From conversations, we believe when fully open the majority will retain a by-appointment option or remain fully by-appointment."
Only one major US wine region – Santa Barbara County – actually reported more average monthly visitors so far this year compared to 2019. Napa and Sonoma Counties are seeing less than half the average number of visitors that they did in 2019, according to the survey.