Recently, Driftwood Estate Winery made some changes to our approach on Saturdays, Sundays and busy Holiday Weekends.
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 opened Driftwood Estate Winery twenty years ago, we had one small tasting room and six feet of tasting bar. We now have a much larger tasting room with two tasting areas. We also offer a pavilion, several patio areas and expansive grounds. However, on busy days it can be overwhelming, even with expanded facilities. As a result, some of our regular customers and 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 purchases much of the 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. This is why we ask all visitors on Saturday and Sunday to do a wine tasting. They can then decide if Driftwood Estate Winery wine should be in their cellar and possibly join our family of club members. Some potential customers are hoping we are a wine bar or a local park (like the ones that pounded in horseshoe stakes and set up a family picnic below the tasting room). We are neither. We discourage loud party groups, and while we like kids, 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?
About a year ago we stopped taking buses on Saturday and Sunday, shortly thereafter, limos and vans 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.
As previously mentioned, we are a winery not a bar. Tastings are how people can get to know our wines. We don’t allow any children, infants or babies in the tasting room. It is for adult wine tasting only, and on Saturday and Sunday children (any age under 21) are not allowed anywhere on the property.
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 know some of our guests will be disappointed, we are trying to make choices about how best to serve our members, guests and staff.
We hop to welcome you soon!