When it comes to Long Island, or any other wine country, it's important to remember that there will always be times when—no matter steps a winery takes to avert unfortunate, drunken incidents—a pathetic subset of losers will still act like jerks and ruin the fun for everybody else.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a story I heard via email over the weekend from a tasting room manager who will remain nameless for obvious reasons. Out of respect for this individual and other parties involved, I’ll keep my version of the story appropriately anonymous—except for an interesting piece of information at the end.
The tasting room manager and his staff did all of the right things here, but drunk imbeciles caused a problem anyway.
Basically what happened is that last Saturday night, a limousine pulled into the parking lot this particular winery—a winery known for making quality wine. This winery also has an obvious, well-placed sign that clearly informs potential visitors that buses, vans and limousines are only taken by appointment. I've been told in the past that this is their policy because they want to provide educational and entertaining tastings and need to know ahead of time to make sure that the tasting room has the room, staff and other resources to ensure the desired experience. Avoiding incidents like the one that was about to ensue is no doubt an unspoken reason as well.
So, a limousine pulled up to the door, and the driver got out. A staff member went outside to greet the limousine. Because there was no reservation on the books for this particular time, the staff member first asked if the group had a reservation. The driver asked the group inside the limousine, then replied “No, no reservation.”
The staff member then politely explained that it wasn't possible to take the group, that they had a policy of requiring reservations for larger groups, and for any group traveling by bus, van, or limousine. Of course, the staff member also told me that he thought to himself that it was probably a good thing this group didn’t have a reservation, because the group was--judging by the volume, tone and language of the voices in the limo--quite drunk. The sight of a wine bottle being waved around in someone’s fist emerging from the open door only served to strengthen this perception.
Fortunately, the group seemed to take the information in some degree of stride. The driver was cordial and the staff member was satisfied that the matter was settled successfully. He went back inside.
Within minutes, however, members of the group started coming into the tasting room anyway. And this was not a group of “kids”—the individuals were all easily into their thirties and forties. The first to enter was a woman (with a shoe falling off) who wobbled to the restroom, paying no attention to the staff on hand. She was followed into the tasting room by two guys who started looking at some of the gift items on display. The staff member went over to talk to them, and they said they were just interested in buying some gifts, and asked if that would be okay. The staff member begrudgingly complied, hoping essentially to defuse the difficulty of the situation, and speed up the group’s departure.
One of the men then said something to the effect of, “So, since I’m buying something, I can do a tasting now, right?” The staff member apologized again, and reiterated the limo policy. At this point, the guy got very aggressive and confrontational, and tried to argue. The staff member went to the front door, opened it, and said “You can go now, It’s time to leave.” They exited, saying “f*&k you” as they left.
The woman re-emerged from the restroom shortly thereafter and started in on the staff member as well, who simply kept repeating “Your group has been asked to leave.” A second woman, who had also come in, snipped, “It’s too bad, because we come here a lot,” to which the staff member politely but pointedly observed, “Then you should have known better than to have arrived without a reservation,” He also thought but didn't say, that she also should have known better than to have shown up that drunk.
Rather than getting back into their limo and going on their way, the
group proceeded to do something that can only be described as
disgusting. They hovered
around the front door of the tasting room and proceeded to pour wine on
the entry way and surrounding areas. They also
dumped a bunch of garbage on the ground--plastic cups, cigarette butts
now-empty bottles of another
Of course, it's almost as disgusting that this producer served these people given their condition.
This story is already sad and unfortunate enough, but it gets worse. A woman from the group went back inside, and got the attention of another staff member. While patronizingly patting this staff member’s arm, the woman, quite literally struggling to speak clearly and coherently, said (I'm paraphrasing), “I just thought you should know that I’m from Newsday, and I’m going to let everyone know how open you are to having people come here. I just thought I’d tell you that.”
Now, one of two things is going on here. Either some rude, stupid and drunk woman is out there impersonating a Newsday staff member and giving the paper an undeserved bad name. Or, sadly, the obnoxious, inappropriate and drunken behavior of visitors traveling by limousine that we’ve all been hearing so much about lately is not being perpetrated by a subset of classless individuals who don’t know better, but in fact by the very people who claim to support the region, and who absolutely should indeed know better.
One can only hope the former is the case.