Every time I step into a wine tasting centre, I’m usually greeted by a very wary looking tasting room assistant assessing if I’m a viable buyer or just another student looking for a quick drunk fix. When realisation hits that I’m a student, all the excited expectation vanishes from the assistant’s face and the cold stare returns with a deadly finality.
I dread going to a tasting room, because every time I do the staff assumes that I am just another student looking for a cheap place to get drunk, when in reality, I am a viable customer who actually studies wine making and appreciates good wine (in addition to buying the occasional bottle or two). I do understand though, what these tasting room assistants go through on a day to day basis, as I have worked in a tasting room for more than two years. Every time a group of students made their way through the doors of our tasting centre, my heart filled with dread. Concern would wash over me about how I would treat these young people in order to minimise the chaos that could be created and also to ensure that they would buy some wine, whilst also enjoying their experience and perhaps learning a thing or two. This issue has undergone heated discussions and many debates as to what the appropriate reaction should be and it seems there is no easy option available. The obvious choice would be to increase tasting fees to unimaginable prices, which unfortunately would not only dissuade the younger generation, but also deter some other viable customers. I believe the wine estates surrounding Stellenbosch should cater for all customers that may arrive on their front step, by supplying each possible customer with what they are looking for. Students could enjoy a student special when they buy a specific and appropriately marketed wine, whilst the customers more inclined to buy wine, would be catered to differently. This indicates how important it is to know your clientele and how to adapt, when necessary, in order to accommodate a certain segment of the population.
We all know how aggravating it can be when a group of students decide to take over a whole tasting room and cause chaos, but unfortunately for the general public, students are here to stay. The best remedy for such a plight is to just ignore, forget and enjoy. Have fun, stay young and stop w(h)ining!