“Wine "Boot Camp" - A one time only experience. Customer service counts!”
The setting is lovely and artistic, the views are beautiful. This winery is a new one - with limited selections of their own. The owners creatively came up with the "boot camp experience" to attract visitors to their site while their own vines are established - great idea, in theory. They currently rent space at other vineyards so production is limited and their "boot camps" are the main product. Both Carl and Donna are obviously wine lovers who've learned a lot about wine over the years as consumers and are happy to share their knowledge in this - their second career. I am not sure that I'd call them expert wine makers - at least not yet - and their own product is not a "mature" one despite their pride in awards they've received to date. We did not purchase any of their wines but that may have had more to do with the experience than the overall average quality of the wine.
Carl handled the first part of the boot camp training with lots of humor interjected and Donna - the second part - and she did a nice, knowledgeable job. The advertisement for the boot camp indicated a tasting of 14 different wines, and a luncheon paired with a glass of wine. Luncheon consisted of a sandwich paired with glass of wine. Perhaps they were ill-prepared/overwhelmed for the volume of visitors on the Saturday we visited - August 31st - or they scheduled too many boot camp sessions for the day - but service, balanced quantity of product, inadequate seating for the luncheon and most specifically - Donna's attitude toward her guests left very little to be desired.
Two distinct examples follow. 1-The assistant pouring wine during Carl's presentation was overly liberal with the customers served first - and that left very little wine for those sitting at the bar seating at the back each tasting. The assistant was very sweet "I'm so sorry" but didn't do anything about it to provide an adequate sampling. When one of the other guests indicated that the back row was being "short-changed" on each tasting , the assistant went to get Donna who very reluctantly poured the correct amount of wine while saying " you know you'll be tasting 14 different wines". That did not sit well - we felt we were being chastised for speaking up.
2 - At the end of the final tasting - Donna was very quick to hustle everyone standing at our table away saying "you need to move - I have another session starting". It left a bad taste and no interest in going over to their bar area to purchase a glass of their wine product. I left there thinking that I wouldn't want to repeat this experience - mostly because of the proprietor's attitude toward her guests. It seems to me that right now the winery must rely on its customer service and that was lacking.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 5, 2013
Oh my gosh ... I am so sorry you left after the chocolate pairing part of wine bootcamp and did not complete the seminar.
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Most people rate this event as the best wine event they have ever been to - especially if they found it for the incredible deal price of $15. There is no comparable session that includes 2 hours tasting wines while you learn with a winemaker, a molecular sandwich and wine pairing, a chocolate and wine pairing session and than a full flight of our own wines and incredible wines from all over the world.
Since you left after the chocolate pairing part of the seminar and did not complete bootcamp you missed out on tasting our own wines that Carl is making, which were featured in the next part of the seminar. I hope you'll come back sometime to have a full tasting of our own wines on us. I will keep your name on file for free tastings in our will call box.
Your statement that Carl is, quote "not an expert wine maker - at least not yet - and [our] product is not a "mature" one" is a little unfair considering that you left after the chocolate pairing session of bootcamp and did not taste any of Carl's wines at all which were featured in the following session. Carl makes five different wines of his own that we sell at this time. He also has several processing in the barrels and tanks. He tends to try to perfect a few wines rather than popping out lots of different flavors to have a large selection for people, so you'll probably never find us having a large flight of our own. 5-8 wines will be the max we concentrate on. I would be interested in how many wines you think it takes to accomplish "expert wine maker" status.
Please forgive me for making your day unpleasant when I topped off your glass. I do remember you asking for more wine in the chocolate session, claiming you did not get your fair share. I'm sorry I seemed a little reluctant to fill your glass up ... my reluctance was not with you at all. I was frustrated that our pourer had poured the entire bottle and I did not have another chilled bottle I could go to to get more of the wine you were asking for. Everyone needed a 1 ounce sip of that particular wine because we were tasting one bite of chocolate with that selection. I was frustrated that I could not access another bottle for you and did not mean to offend you. I certainly do dispute that I said "you need to move - I have another session starting" as I just simply do not speak that way. You may have confused me with someone. I apologize for however your day became such a bad experience.
Please do let us know where you found a Bootcamp advertisement that, quote "indicated a tasting of 14 different wines, and a luncheon paired with a glass of wine. Luncheon consisted of a sandwich paired with glass of wine." I can understand how your expectations may have been altered if you saw something like that! Please review your voucher for the event again. There is no such advertisement indicating how many wines might be part of the bootcamp fun. Bootcamp is specifically advertised as a seminar and sandwich. Our advertisements completely fall short of what you really get when you get here. They only indicate a 2 hour seminar and do not specify wines are included in conjunction with the seminar at all for a very specific reason, but we do like to surprise and delight our guests when they have their bootcamp adventure.
Please also let me know where you found that "we booked too many boot camp sessions for the day". For the past 85 sessions there have been the same number of sessions per day as that is the number we can fit into our day and make sure it is fun for everyone. Two Bootcamps is all that can happen daily - littlewashingtonwinery.com/rsvppage.htm
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.