Col Solare, Red Mountain area outside of Yakima is, I think a good example of what we like to talk about here. We are very fortunate to find that almost every place we go has pretty good wine that you’ll probably like. What you don’t find every time is a place that convinces you should take it home with you – and that has a lot to do with what some old researchers would call “set and setting.” How does the theater of presenting the wine change how you feel about it?
Here’s a photo of me, sitting before a lineup of red liquids. It’s kind of clever how they serve, actually. She brought out all three at once, with a placard of descriptions, water and some crunchy things so you can sit, enjoy and get down to business.
And, as you can see below, it is a beautiful location, so what’s not to like?
Well, it’s run by a corporation and it really feels like all the personality has been boiled out of it. The wine itself tastes like technical excellence, there are no flaws, but it also feels like it lacks character. There’s no rough edges, but maybe a rough edge or two is a good thing. I’ve done my share of sorting grapes and punching down fermenters and to me this wine tasted more like high-end wine making equipment than wine itself.
Does the wine actually taste that way, or is it a reflection of the almost overly polished showroom that makes it feel that way? Or was it the weather, cold and bleak, when we pulled in to the parking lot? To be fair, we’d have to visit again to get a better read. (It didn’t help that I gave Joyce the wrong directions and it took us an extra 20 minutes to get there. That’s my fault.)
But it’s more than that. It’s fine that their wines are expensive, about $75/bottle. However, if you want your tasting fee waived, they require you to spend $100 – but you can’t spend just $100, you have to buy two bottles, which is $150 + WA tax. WTF? As if the customer doesn’t notice that little bit of math which seems intended to jack us around. (Or maybe we’re just peons too poor to afford this place, maybe?)
Also, once you go to pay your $20 tasting fee – we’re not against tasting fees, we’re drinking their wine after all, and Col Solare did not skimp on the tasting pours – but then unlike every other winery they don’t build the sales tax into the $20. You can’t just slip them a fin and get on your way ya gotta stop and dig through your pockets for the extra %.
It just feels rude and inconsiderate. These kind of little unthoughtful details can really rub a customer the wrong way and leave, as you’d say, a bad taste in their mouths, which isn’t something you’d want when you’re selling things intended to be put in the mouth.