Are Wineries Neglecting an Important Message?

Mark Ganchiff

Mark Ganchiff is the publisher of Midwest Wine Press, the leading source of news on the growing wine industry in the central United States. Mark has been a wine judge at the 2012 and 2014 INDY International Wine Competition, the 2014 Cold Climate Wine Competition, the 2013 Mid-American Wine Competition, the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition and the 2013 Michigan Wine Competition. He also enjoys speaking at wine events including the Cold Climate Wine Conference, the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association Annual Meeting, the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Mark's articles about regional wine have appeared in Vineyard & Winery Management, WineMaker and several regional magazines. Mark is a Level One Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. He lives in Louisville, but also has a residence in Chicago.

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7 Responses

  1. Cassie Bott says:

    Good points, Mark. I’d love to hear what other wineries are doing for their DD programs. We can offer free pop and water but is that enough of an incentive?

  2. Dave scurlock says:

    Mark, I agree with your article about responsible wine drinking and drinking and driving do not mix and promoting the DD. in Ohio all of the tastings in wineries are required by law to charge for the tastings. There are no FREE tastings in our state. Hanging a DD can never be promoted enough to keep everyone safe and to ensure the customers safe repeat business.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:


      Thanks, it’s good to hear that Ohio has sensible regulations to help wineries and promote public safety. Some wineries deduct the tasting free from purchases which makes sense too.

      Mark G.

  3. I’ve always thought it would be helpful if a winery or bar had a prominent display with the phone number of a local taxi or limo service – perhaps with a discount if the winery can come to an arrangement with the carrier.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:


      Good idea, however some Midwest wineries are beyond cab or limo range.

      While visiting the Hermann Wine Trail last summer, the wineries sponsored a shuttle service that came to every winery fairly often. (Every 30 minutes or so, if I recall correctly.) Shuttles going back to central location gives winery patrons the option of calling for a ride if they don’t feel like driving is a good idea.

      Mark G.

  4. Merry says:

    Mark, in Kansas wine tastings are mandated as free only. That being said, we do have the right to limit the samples given to any person, or to refuse to give samples to anyone who appears to already be intoxicated. We limit our tastings to an average of 3 and no more than 5. That is giving a half ounce to at most an ounce pour.
    There are no taxi’s in our rural area, but we are very careful with the samples we give and to who. Fortunately wine trails in our state involve time and driving that don’t lend themselves to overindulging.
    When we have weddings on the weekends, we do caution the people holding the wedding to be careful about anyone drinking too much and driving. We have security posted at every event, and have rarely ever had any problems.
    The key seems to be the ability to limit and to refuse to give the samples. Kansas is very strict on drinking and driving. One thing in our favor is that premium wines are rarely what someone out to simply get drunk is going to use. We do have the odd person who will say they want five samples and then they will go out the door and come back in expecting five more. We nicely refuse. It is easy to tell the people who think they will get a free “buzz” from sampling wines, and the ones who are genuinely there to try and buy. It is our policy to limit the samples to control the amount any one person consumes in the course of tasting the wines. I think most wineries are aware of their customers and use good judgement in sampling wines out to them.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:


      Thanks for your constructive ideas. Having a state law that requires free tastings creates a predicament, but knowing how to say “no” nicely appears to make all the difference. You say it’s easy to tell people who are looking for a free drink. Can you give an example?