Saturdays are Different - October 12, 2016
Grape Creek recently made some changes to our approach on Saturdays and busy Holiday Weekends (learn more about Saturdays). Our owner, Brian Heath, provides some background in this article.
We love Grape Creek and the wine business! Of course, it’s hard work by so many of our great staff, but it is also very rewarding to enjoy the connection so many people have with wine and with Grape Creek.
So why did we change how we handle Saturdays? Two reasons:
First, we have enjoyed increasing visitation, which is a good thing, and we are happy lots of people enjoy what we offer. When we purchased Grape Creek ten years ago, we had one small tasting room and six feet of tasting bar. We now have three tasting rooms (not counting Main Street or Georgetown) plus two outdoor tasting areas and a wine by the glass bar. We also offer expansive patios and seating areas plus the trattoria opened last year. However, on busy days it can be overwhelming, even with expanded facilities. As a result, some of our wine club members began to avoid Saturdays.
Second, although not popular to say, we are not the right place for all customers. As a simple metaphor, we are like a country club for wine lovers. We have a large and loyal wine club that purchase 9 out of every 10 bottles of wine we produce. We are a wine club winery. And, by choice, we only offer our wines directly to customers (club, on-site and on-line) and to a handful of local restaurants. So we are not designed, nor do we want to try, to meet the gamut of all the possible visitor expected experiences. We believe in choosing what we want to be and delivering on that goal to the best of our ability.
What we strive to provide are a set of unique and enjoyable tasting experiences so guests can choose the best way for them to discover our wines. They can then decide if Grape Creek wine should be in their cellar and possibly join our club. Some potential customers are hoping we are a wine bar or a state park (like the ones that pounded in horseshoe stakes and set up a family picnic behind the tasting room). We are neither. We discourage loud party groups, and while we have kids too, a winery is an adult experience by definition. Some people are also put-off that we offer special benefits (exclusive seating areas, member wines, etc.) to our club members. There is a deeper and longer-term connection with our club members and they are the reason we can afford to invest in the facilities and experiences that even our new guests can enjoy. Plus, anyone is welcome to join.
So what has changed? Here is the detail on our Saturdays at Grape Creek to see specific information.
A couple of years ago we stopped taking buses on Saturday and, shortly thereafter, limos unless one of our preferred partners and with a reserved slot. While professional transportation can be a good alternative we found the limo groups were generally there to party and drink too much, which of course diminished the experience for other guests. In fact, we also have found larger groups, regardless of transportation, tend to have that effect.
So, for new guests (not current club members or their guests) we limit groups to six and guests must purchase one of our tasting options to enter facility. As previously mentioned, we are a winery not a bar. Tastings are how people can get to know our wines. Because all guests are doing a tasting we don’t allow any children under 21 in their party nor pets, as both require supervision.
The feedback we have had from our members and most guests has been very positive. Obviously, there are some that might not agree with the changes. While we acknowledge their right to be disappointed we also acknowledge our opportunity to make choices about how best to serve our members, guests and staff.
We hope to welcome you soon!