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  • Writer's picturekenlori16

Niagara Wineries - Best Practices Test

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

This is a Multiple Choice Test for Niagara wineries:


Guide = Wine Tour Guide for River & Wine Adventure

Winery = Owner, Manager, Server in tasting room

All scenarios experienced by the writer.


Winery and Guide meet to agree on a tasting fee for future groups after which Winery should:

a. Ignore agreement

b. Fail to notify Guide of the decision to ignore agreement

c. Announce new tasting fee to Guide's guests

d. All of the above

Correct answer: none of the above

Unlike drunk shuttles (i.e. wine tour companies) River & Wine Guide cares about Guest and Server experiences. Guide's efforts to meet with winery managers to discuss approach are often rebuffed - Niagara wineries preferring to communicate by email/text. Bad business = bad business.


Guide's guests spend $5,000 at Winery in the first year. Guide emails Winery to negotiate a deal on tasting fees. Winery should:

a. Explain to Guide how his guests "aren't worth it" and are "incompatible" with winery's "business model"

b. Risk losing $5000 per year over ten years ($50,000) plus return-guests plus potential wedding bookings by return-guests ($100,000) - because their business model doesn't include revenue

c. Both of the above

Correct answer: conduct a meeting dedicated to maintaining healthy industry-partnership. Consider everything at stake. Approach business like Americans would, i.e. to give and take. Should Winery choose not to budge, both parties move forward on good terms.

Guide trains guests to engage servers with banter, explaining, "So that if you don't like the wine you still enjoy yourself." Guide learns wineries don't care for this approach, some asking Guide not to return (!)


When hosting weddings at a public park, Winery's Wedding Planner should:

a. Tell Guide's hiking guests to "shhhhh" while ceremony is in process inside chapel

b. Ignore the irony that Winery has been guilty of breaking the noise by-law and irritating neighbors with late night wedding receptions three years

Correct answer: recognize limits of authority and that those in a public park are allowed to talk

Guide's mature guests having a good time - perceived by some wineries to be an imposition, their purchases "incompatible" with winery's business model.


Guide and Winery have strong relationship after one year of steady business. Upon encouraging Guide's idea to launch a Canoe & Wine tour to Winery's property, Winery should then:

a. Write abrasive text messages demanding proof of insurance

b. Continue to send unfriendly text messages

c. Injure and upset the Guide till he decides to cease bringing groups

d. All of the above

Correct answer: apologize for reversing support and imposing demands in such a tone. Maturely discuss potential hazards then explore options to address insurance and related issues. End the matter on a positive note (in person)

Guide positions guests on this side of the horseshoe bar to afford a vineyard view


The other side of the bar where most guests are directed to stand - staring at a blank wall and TV.


When Guide enters Winery without a mask, Winery should:

a. Shout expletives at Guide before guests (both in masks)

b. Ignore that Guide (an asthmatic with puffer to prove) does not need to wear a mask

c. Talk over Guide explaining intentions to sit in car while his guests taste wine

d. Get angrier when Guide pulls guests out of the winery as a response to verbal abuse

e. All of the above (all while "Takin' Care of Business" blares from speakers)

Correct answer: none of the above

Rockway Vineyards offered Guide a deal he couldn't refuse And it's paid off. Hundreds of visits and guests later, . . .

Good business = good business.


When guests come into Winery, Winery should:

a. Promise free bottles of wine for leaving a five-star review

Correct answer: not do that

Typical couple on the River & Wine Adventure, always welcome at Hernder Estates - experts in customer engagement.


During COVID:

a. Winery should use small plastic glasses for tastings on a windy patio

b. Say things like, "Instead of serving at the bar now we bring tastings to their table. It's great because we don't have to talk to customers anymore!"

c. Both of the above

Correct answer: none of the above.

Laughing is the highest form of fun. In fact laughing is never NOT fun. Winery servers should appreciate or generate humor.

# 8

Winery should:

a. Build a patio adjacent to a gravel parking lot prone to dust up from cars and wind

Correct answer: not do that

Cornerstone Estate always hosts friendly and memorable experiences - with wine education gently mixed in.


On a busy road with lots of truck and tractor traffic, Winery should:

a. Situate tasting tables within view and earshot of noisy road

Correct answer: situate tasting tables behind the building overlooking a vineyard, out of earshot and view of noisy road

Large wineries employ micro managers that monitor and pressure servers to make sales and meet quotas. Guests detect the tension and falseness - and withhold money accordingly. Notice no server around.


On Labour Day Monday, Winery should:

a. Be open for retail but not tastings even though dozens of customers are streaming in

Correct answer: be open for tastings on a holiday Monday

Guide's four guests situated at the counter's elbow. Done deliberately so the couple (L) can face the sisters (R).

Horseshoe bars allow for greater energy flow and connection.


On Labour Day Sunday and Monday (after 1.5 years of slow business due to COVID) Winery should respond to an email inquiry with:

a. "We are only open Saturday. We are closed on Sunday and Monday for family, and getting kids ready for school!"

Correct answer: realize that family has had 1.5 years of forced togetherness and ten weeks of summer to prepare kids for school

These respectable locals purchase two cases, tell local friends and return to personable Cornerstone Estate many times - because they're local. Their purchasing power "incompatible" with other wineries.


Guide has beautiful experience at Winery due to older server named Martin. So personable was Martin that Guide spent over $200 plus hundreds more with and without guests over three years; Guide refers dozens to Winery.

Two years later Guide praises recently-deceased Martin to Winery Owner, describing how one hour with the old man converted to thousands of dollars - and more referrals and visits to come - over time. Winery Owner should:

a. Say, "Oh, Martin? Well, he was too generous with the pours", change the subject, walk away from Guide and chat with a lifeless young server.

Correct answer: Say, ''Martin was awesome! Gave his heart and soul to this company. We really miss and appreciate what he did for our reputation and bottom line. We wish all our servers were as customer-focused and revenue-generating as Martin! His engagement with customers continues to translate into sales - over time his work alone will convert to tens of thousands of dollars!"

Cornerstone's Nina doesn't just serve wine. She facilitates conversation. If guests want to talk, wineries should listen.


Guide introduces himself by email to small winery. Winery responds with enthusiasm. Upon that enthusiasm Guide requests a meeting to discuss potential partnership. Winery should:

a. Solicit opinion from area wineries about Guide's reputation, pre-judge then not respond

Correct answer: meet, discuss and judge Guide and his guests over time

Redstone Winery runs a laid-back yet attentive tasting room experience - time after time.


Winery and Guide establish agreement for free tastings when Guide brings guests for lunch. Once agreement is in place Winery should:

a. Change its mind and notify Guide by email

Correct answer: revisit agreement in person

Bachelorettes on the River & Wine are gregarious yet gracious as required by Guide.


At another Winery: when a Guide requests free tastings should he bring guests for lunch, Winery should:

a. Refuse outright (by email) even though cost to Winery is minimal

Correct answer: have a meeting to discuss, be open to negotiation, recognize the long term benefits, do business like Americans: i.e. work together

Guide's guests enjoying a posh-rustic ambiance at Vineland Estates.


When building a tasting room atop the Escarpment affording one of the best vineyard and Lake Ontario views in the province, Winery should:

a. Situate tasting counter so that servers get the view while guests get a view of a chalkboard

Correct answer: situate tasting counter near windows so that guests get view

Wineries are less in the business of impressing with product and more in the business of connecting with people - especially Americans with deep pockets.


Employees of a local campground frequent Winery and spend hundreds of dollars per year. Winery should:

a. Apply the new (more expensive) tasting fee to neighbors and regulars without flexibility

Correct answer: allow special treatment to neighbors/regulars who support Winery, especially if neighbors own a lodging enterprise. Recognize that campground employees interact daily with guests inquiring about wineries. Set up partnership and regular visits. In other words, work together

Who you hire is a $10,000 decision. S/he can make or lose the winery hundreds per hour.

This server's fun (i.e. not silly or clownish) approach generated smile after smile ergo sale after sale.


Guide suggests to Winery Marketing Manager that a new logo may help - as the LCBO demands high quality labels, Winery should:

a. Disregard the input and exclaim, "I love the logo!"

Correct answer: solicit input not only about the logo but about customer experience as a whole. Recognize that the Guide - as both guest and Guide - has experienced hundreds of wineries. Recognize that Guide's input - while potentially worthless - may prove valuable and increase sales.

The goal of every winery should be the joy evident here. That's not the alcohol talking. It's the talking talking.


Winery should:

a. Not be very friendly but provide popcorn with wine tastings

Correct answer: not do either of those

Back L - one of the best tasting room managers in Niagara. Back R - one of the best servers, both of whom kept Guide coming back. Front - two of Guide's appreciative guests. - because they feel welcome, not a burden.


Winery server:

a. At tasting counter should chat with co-worker about her flavor of lip balm while ignoring customer who happens to be a Guide who could bring hundreds of guests

b. Should continue chatting with co-worker about the concert she's going to while ignoring the customer who happens to be a Guide who could bring hundreds of guests

c. When asked how long into September the live music will last, respond with, "Depends on the weather."

d. When asked how long into September the outdoor kitchen will continue, respond with, "Depends on the weather."

Correct answer: somehow know that a tasting room is the Winery's portal to the world

Wine doesn't produce smiles. People do. Cornerstone staff always elicit smiles and - likely - revenue.


When Guide follows up with Winery about the date of reservation and number of people, Winery should:

a. Get the information wrong and ask for information already provided

b. Explain to Guide that she'd gotten the information wrong because she hadn't "finished her coffee yet."

Correct answer: none of the above

What's wrong with this picture? Nothing. Pleasant and engaging servers = pleased and cheerful Guests.


After Guide has brought multiple groups (none of which were disrespectful) Winery should:

a. Never say "thank you" and complain about Guide's level of expectations

Correct answer: have a meeting with Guide about expectations and possibilities with respect to wine tasting experience. Open discussion to approaches to wine tasting. For example, Winery might declare its requirement for guests to expect serious and formal talk about wine; the Guide might declare his request for servers to be conversational and engaging. Both sides may explain rationale. If no agreement can be made, shake hands and move on

Europeans may not appreciate Canadian wine but Guide's favorite server saves the day.


Guide schedules a tour of a small batch Distillery. Upon arrival Distillery should:

a. Tell Guide there's no tour and not apologize

b. Let the Guide explain to his guests that there will be no tour as promised

c. Both of the above

Correct answer: none of the above

Vineland Estates allows servers to be themselves. And it works. Nobody leaves feeling cheated or cheerless.


Brewery lists its business hours on website and Google. When Guide appears to enjoy a beer on their patio Brewery should:

a. Explain that the hours are only for retail and not for the bar, that the "patio isn't open."

Correct answer: state on the website hours of retail and bar to avoid patrons driving thirty minutes for nothing

Wine-tasting should be a chance for families to bond.


A new Winery buys out an old Winery with poor reputation for service. When Guide introduces himself to new Owner, Owner should:

a. Explain that he'd "love" to be part of the Guide's tours but that his daughter "handles inquires of this nature," that she isn't around but will respond when back in the office

b. Ignore follow-up email from Guide

c. Both of the above

Correct answer: follow up with Guide within twenty-four hours and instruct his daughter to do the same. Should Winery prefer not to host Guide, explain this to the Guide

What do solo travelers need? To feel relaxed and appreciated. There's a reason this Redstone server appears in so many photos in this blog. She always makes guests feel at home.


Two hours before Guide is scheduled to bring guests, Winery emails new tasting fee. Appalled that Winery would break agreement then raise the fee then inform by email two hours before arrival, Guide cancels reservation. At this point Winery should:

a. Reprimand Guide and explain that all future bookings must now be paid in advance

b. After the fact explain that the new fee wasn't effective till after the present day

c. Remain oblivious to the seriousness of the mishandling

d. All of the above

Correct answer: none of the above

If the wine don't speak to you, the server must.


Guide and two friends appear on a Saturday in February to find Winery closed even though "open" on Google. After waiting a considerable amount of time in the cold for the Owner to make an appearance, Owner should:

a. Explain that it's too cold to open then say that they're under renovations then say that only the retail space is open then say that tastings aren't available

Correct answer: not do any of that especially to a Guide auditioning Winery for future visits

This server has quick wit and ability to banter. Lack of wine knowledge doesn't make a difference.


Winery is new. Just opened - a retirement project for an old man. When Guide visits and explains that he may like to bring guests, New Winery Owner should:

a. Outright refuse an agreement to waive tasting fee upon purchase of bottles

b. Direct the Guide to his wall of medals and letters of admiration while ignorant of the fact that all wineries have medals and letters of admiration

Correct answer: maturely and professionally discuss strategy. Say to the Guide, "For the first year, I'll waive the fee when guests purchase two bottles. See how it goes. I've heard things about your tours, like, that you want servers to actually engage versus lecture or stand staring. I know all about you. You're trouble, not because you're disrespectful but because you demand a top notch experience and operate on a Steve Jobs level of expectation. Let's work together so that I can sell wine and establish lifelong revenues while adding a special experience to your tours."

This winery made loads of lunch money from Guide's Guests till changing its mind and notifying Guide by email that tastings were no longer free - no matter how much his Guests might spend in the dining room.


Upon incurring such repeated mistreatment from wineries, Guide should:

a. Accept that wineries don't really want him or his guests around, not because his guests are ill-mannered but because he simply requests an outstanding experience consistent with the quality of his hike

b. Accept that these wineries have mis-judged his guests while entertaining those who tumble on and off the drunk shuttles

Correct answer: remain with wineries with whom Guide has strong relationships

Hernder Estates facilitates one of the best experiences in Niagara - they understand the benefits of engagement.


When Guide introduces himself, Winery should:

a. Investigate the Guide's website, Instagram and Airbnb Experience pages to read reviews. After soliciting input from industry friends judge Guide through experience and observation then adjust accordingly

b. Visit neighboring wineries and establishments that do it right, particularly Vineland Estates which facilitates the best tasting room experience in the province

c. Recognize that while the Guide's guests may only buy a bottle or two today they may return and join the wine club, come to an event or book a wedding/event

d. All of the above

e. Take the opinions of others as truth and prefer to accept detached guides and inebriated groups that care little about the Winery's bottom line

Incorrect answer: e.

Wineries should visit Vineland Estates to see the industry model in motion.


A Guide brings over one hundred groups to a Winery. Owner should:

a. Say to Guide, "Your groups don't buy enough wine!"

b. Say to Guide, "Your groups leave mud from their shoes on our floor!"

c. Both of the above

Correct answer: recognize that Guide's groups do buy wine and do return and do spend money and tell friends about the winery

Despite the industry's impression that wine tour guests don't spend. . . Hernder's unpretentious approach works.


Guide brings multiple groups to Winery. One day he notices:

a. Two winery staffers come in on their day off, walk around the tasting counter and help themselves to glass of wine after glass of wine - ignoring the staffer on duty

b. An organized and respected tasting room

Correct answer: a.


Guide brings multiple groups to same Winery but can't get a face-to-face meeting with the Manager even after Guide had contacted him about the two aforementioned staffers helping themselves to wine on their days off - which is illegal. Manager should:

a. Avoid Guide's attempts to establish a relationship

Correct answer: welcome a meeting about future visits, especially after Manager fired the two staffers as a result of the Guide's complaints


Frustrated with Manager of aforementioned Winery, Guide calls Owner to establish a connection/relationship, complaining that the Manager isn't up to the task, that Manager in fact hadn't the courage to fire the self-serving staffers till Guide had called and complained. Winery Owner should:

a. Say, "We're rated number one on TripAdvisor! We wouldn't be rated number one on TripAdvisor if we had any problems!"

Correct answer: not say that and welcome feedback about his Manager whose position determines the generation - or lack thereof - of hundreds of thousands of dollars

Note Tawse's creative clipboard. Notice too the smiles on both sides of the bar. One provokes the other.


Winery Owner should say:

a. "Your groups are hiking so they won't likely buy much wine."

Correct answer: "Thank you for bringing any and all potential lifelong customers to our fledgling winery known for poor service."

More warmth and ease at Hernder.


Owner's wife should say to Guide's guests:

a. "I don't even like wine. Gives me a headache."

Correct answer: "What else would you like to try?"


New Winery Owner who knows nothing about wine is on the board of Ontario Craft Wineries. He can:

a. At an OCW meeting make an announcement that Guide of River & Wine tours isn't to be trusted due to his Steve Jobs-level of expectations

Correct answer: instead of blaming Guide for Steve Jobs-level expectations, urge the Niagara wine region to step up its game

Time in wine country should be special, and it's the server that makes it so. Wine can be gotten anywhere.


Wine tastings rooms, staff and service should:

a. Be aloof and pedantic

Correct answer: be engaging and conversational - when possible of course

Love on all sides of the bar here - despite its mismanagement. Most times servers step up regardless of training/misdirection.

Wineries should understand that - in terms of selling - the quality of wine is less important than quality of engagement.

While the customer isn't always number one or right s/he shouldn't be blamed for not buying.

Rarely blame customer. Definitely assess product. Always scrutinize service.

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