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Growing calls for all cellar doors to be able to charge for wine tastings

They're especially popular around this time of year, but there are growing calls for all cellar doors to be able to charge for wine tastings.

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At the moment only some are allowed to charge for the service. Source: 1 NEWS

Currently, only some cellar doors are allowed to charge - a move that's been labelled unfair.

One cellar door unable to charge for tasting is Marlborough’s No. 1 Family Estate.

"I don't think it's fair, and I think what we lack actually is the choice,” No. 1 Family Estate’s Ellie Vincent said.

The cellar door is unable to charge for wine tasting due to only having an off-licence, which is designed for the likes of bottle stores.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Jeffrey Clarke said there are conditions which must be met before they can charge for samples.

“If you want to charge for a sample, you have to have an on-licence and that normally requires a kitchen and that you provide substantial food, and that obviously adds to the cost and that can add up to quite a lot,” he said.

For wineries with a small cellar door, however, the on-licence is just not an option.

“The rules really aren't fit for the modern tourism industry,” Clarke said.

Covid-19 has meant fewer cellar door visits as the international tourism market dries up, leaving many wineries struggling to cover the cost of tastings.

“Sometimes, at the end of the day, we have half a bottle or less. We put the stopper in but the next day, we might decide it's actually not quite at its best and we'll open a new bottle,” Vincent said.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi concedes the licencing regime is challenging for wineries, but says officials are currently looking into the issue.

New Zealand wine growers say they don’t believe the public will mind paying for wine tasting, however.

“If I went to a restaurant, a top restaurant when I was in a new town on a holiday and I said, ‘Look would you mind if I tried four of your top dishes, just to taste them,’ and had a chat with the chef, I'd feel pretty awkward if I didn't pay for that. That's what we're being expected to do in wineries,” Clarke said.