I wanted to share a problem we had on our tasting tour at the castle on September 1st. Our concierge made reservations for us as 2 adults ($25 each) and 2 children ($15 each). Our guide, Joe from Philadelphia, was obviously very knowledgeable about the history of the castle and about wine, but really offended me.
The castle cat, Sir Lancelot, was following our tour for a while. When we were in the caves and having the first tasting from the barrels, he was leaping from barrel to barrel. I handed my glass with a sip of wine left in it to my 10 year old son to get a picture of the cat. Joe reprimanded me like *I* was a child saying that if the California Liquor Authorities saw that my son was holding the glass, the winery would get closed down for a month. The tone in which he spoke was so condescending that I was taken aback. Since he has such a loud voice to begin with, it really sounded like I was being shouted at. Though I think a penalty like closing the winery would be an over-reaction considering the circumstances notwithstanding, Joe could have phrased it a bit more politely. Perhaps..."I'm sorry, children can't hold any wine glasses per California law." No need to scold me in front of the 20 or so other people. In addition, he rushed us through some of the most interesting parts of the castle like the room with the echo under the chandelier and the torture chamber and got us to the tasting room.
As I walked into the tasting room, I heard Joe exclaim "You can't stand there!" I saw my 9 year old daughter's shocked face and asked my husband what had just happened. He said that Joe told our daughter to not stand near the bar/wine tasting area. Children were expected to sit at the chairs in the corner and look at everyone's backs. Unbelievable! It's not like she was trying to get served or something, she just wanted to ask my husband a question, who *was* standing at the bar 3 feet away from the chairs.
We chose this winery because of the appeal it would have for the kids-especially since part of the "Bedtime Stories" movie was filmed here. Right up front, we should have been advised of any expectations/restrictions, and we would have happily abided by them. The rude way in which both situations were handled stayed with me the rest of the day. It's not as though the kids were free, either. At the end of the tasting, Joe asked if we wanted to purchase anything. I was seething and just wanted to leave and said, "Sorry we can't bring it on the plane and a packaging box would be considered a 2nd checked bag." He then proceeded to lecture me that I must be mistaken about airlines charging for extra bags and started rattling off airline names that don't charge. I began responding that we were on Jet Blue but didn't bother to get into it (and I know for a fact that a wine case would be a $30 charge as a second checked item).
Our visit left a bad taste in my mouth (wine pun not intended).
FYI--we found a sealable, bubble wrap wine pouch at a local wine shop and it worked fine to protect the wine in our luggage. Bring some bubble wrap from home and Tyvek mailing envelopes if you want to try bringing any wine home in your suitcases.
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