Thursday, November 11, 2010

Official Wine Tasting Day--Sunday--first place

Sunday morning, we had one wine tasting set up. I figured that one place would lead to another, and another and another. I believe in being spontaneous when tasting. Why have such concrete/inflexible plans? I think of all of the experiences I have had based upon recommendations of others. This is the way to taste in my opinion. Thankfully, my friends agreed to letting me guide this portion of the trip.
I met a Napa contact while attending a wine dinner at Solera. I love Solera and all of the connections I have made from that restaurant. It is a gem of a place.
Anyways, because of my contact, we were set up to enjoy a complimentary wine tasting/tram tour at Benziger. Rob had set the appointment up 6 weeks prior to our tasting. Moreover, we had tasted at St. Francis because he arranged that appointment for me, too. We were driven to Benziger with the belief that our tour date had been set up and arranged for six weeks.
I approached the check-in spot and told the lady my name. I explained that I worked at a brewery in Denver, Colorado; and that a tasting had been set up, under my name, through a specific distributor.
The girl looked at her list and said--I don't see you here.
Confused, I tried to look at the list.
She noticed this and said--see, I have highlighted the two appointments during this time. I don't see you on the list.
At this point, I told her that someone else had made the appointment for us, six weeks ago, and that they should definitely have our information.
Since the St. Francis tasting went smoothly, I couldn't contemplate how this would be messed up. I mentioned, again, that they should have the appointment noted in their books.
She tells me that we could purchase the tasting for $15.
I will be honest. I didn't want to pay that fee especially since I knew we had been comped. Somewhere, there had been a breakdown in communication, but from my end, we were covered. I asked me friends who had patiently watched the entire interaction between myself and the girl at Benziger.
They agreed to the fee.
I approached her, again, and said--we are interested in 4 tours, but since I am industry don't you discount the price?
She said--well, you should have set something up.
Incredulous, I almost lost it at this point. Instead, I walked away from the window and asked to access Megan's phone so that I could look up my e-mail stating that we had been given a comp tasting at Benziger at 11:30 am. I had kept the e-mail with Rob's number for this instance. I didn't want to bother him, but it was an issue of principle now. I wanted to prove that I was right. We did have a prearranged tasting and we would not be paying a dime to this girl.
As I search for the e-mail, somehow, she locates our information.
She hands me the passes, never apologizes for her incompetence and bids us farewell.
My friends were amazed at my restraint and Lindsay kept saying--her customer service sucked. I mean, she obviously didn't understand the merits of her job. Why would you make up a story? You had the person's name, corporation, your job, etc., and still, she doubted you.
This entire interaction was time consuming. While I searched for my e-mail, other people walked up to check in or purchase the tram tour. I watched the girl give complimentary passes to Imagery. She neglected to give us, ours, when she handed me the comp tour.
The tour of Benziger was informative and interesting. They have a biodynamic organic system in place and have for quite some time. The winery is stunning. We saw the grapes, the wine press and caves where they store the wine. All, in all, a great experience.
Afterwards, I approached the guide to ask him where he would recommend trying in the area. As earlier noted, I rely on others opinions when tasting.
He said--well, you have the complimentary passes to Imagery. I would go there.
I stunned him with--no, the girl was confused when we checked in and did not give us the passes.
He insisted that we return to the check-in gate and tell the girl that Gary said we should be given our passes to Imagery.
I did just that after sampling 5 of Benziger's wine. I preferred the syrah to the others. Surprisingly, I liked the chardonnay, too.
I approached the gate, same girl, and said--I would like to be given our passes to Imagery.
She looked up, realized who I was, and said--here they are...and thank you for coming back up. She knew she was wrong. Truly wrong in how she handled the situation with us. I wasn't trying to pull one over on her or Benziger.
We returned to our car and I told the driver our next location....

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