Upon our arrival, yes in a limo bus, we did see the signs about requiring a reservation for groups larger than 6. Since the parking lot was empty, and the grounds were beautiful, we thought we'd ask if they could accommodate 14. The woman who met us, informed us that we really needed a reservation for a tasting, but when we asked if we could send a couple of us in to purchase bottles of wine and sit under the pavilion, she said she would check with a manager. We were pleasantly surprised when she returned carrying glasses and said we could surely do this. After three people from our party purchased 5 or 6 bottles of wine, we sat for about 10 minutes enjoying the wine and the view. We were not a rowdy bunch (truly! we are doctors, nurses, teachers!), but a gentleman working for the winery had his eye on us. He stood, arms crossed in front of the entrance just staring at us. Then he walked up to one man in our group and snarled something along the lines of, "You need to pour that out now, and not down your throat. You all just need to leave. You aren't even supposed to be here without a reservation."--Yes, our friend was absolutely wrong in bringing a beverage off the bus, but most of us had not even realized he had it with him. He is not a wine drinker and hasn't been to wineries, so he didn't think anything of it. He could have been spoken to in a respectful manner. A simple, "Hey, I'm sorry you can't have alcoholic beverages aside from our wine here, could you pour that out?" would have taken care of it. Instead of waiting to have a conversation with our friend, this employee spoke his piece and stomped away towards our bus. After talking with our driver, he turned, crossed his arms and glared at us again. Obviously not feeling welcome, a couple of our husbands went to speak with him, but he wouldn't have a conversation with them. He just told them we weren't supposed to be there. So instead of letting anything escalate we left.
My main issue with this is...If you have this 6 person policy, fine stick to it. BUT Afton Mountain Vineyards agreed to let us buy wine and sit under the pavilion to enjoy it. Unfortunately, enjoy it we did not. The gentleman who did not seem to have much training with customer service/dealing with/interacting with customers put a damper on our day. We will not be back to Afton Mountain Vineyards.
Another concern that I have is that, had we arrived driving ourselves individually or in 3 separate vehicles--our parties would have been correct in size. Since we were being responsible and not drinking and driving, we could not be accommodated. This doesn't quite seem right. In any regard, we won't return to Afton Mountain, but we will double check on any other wineries for reservations next year when our group reconvenes.
We were greeted, accommodated, and treated with utmost respect at Veritas Vineyards and Bold Rock Cidery.