I'm going to Beaune in two weeks. I want to drive around and visit wineries in various areas. I don't want to go on a tour and am curious about tasting etiquette on an individual level. In California it is strictly pay for tasting but I've heard in Burgundy they tend to free tasting on the assumption you will buy a bottle. I don't like hauling around wine and don't need 10 bottles back in my hotel but I also don't like getting something for nothing. I plan on scheduling a few visits before I leave US Is this negotiable with the wineries?
To the best of my knowledge, it's accurate that tastings are often free and they expect you to buy something. It's probably better to think of a tasting as a visit to a wine maker that's somewhat tour and somewhat tasting.
Beune has a big wine tasting (something and sons) cellar. You pay to enter and it comes with a certain number of tastings.
The best tasting choices require reservations (really not more than calling ahead a day or two in advance). I've only been through the area once, in early May, and tastings weren't really happening (even calling ahead). It was still cold and there weren't enough visitors in the area to justify staffing up.
I've heard in the summer, it's more common for signs to be out announcing drop-in degustation. I still think the expectation is you will buy something rather than simply tasting and moving on.
I've visited a number of wineries in Burgundy, as well as every other French wine region. As a general rule, tastings are free, and while you're expected to buy, it's not required. We have almost always bought after tasting, but occasionally, for various reasons, we have not (e.g., we were leaving for home the next day and had all the wine we could handle, or we were in the middle of a long walk). Appointments are rarely required, but sometimes preferred. But if someone is at the winery when you show up, or it has a formal tasting room, you're fine. However, in many places it's just tasting, and no tour.
Thanks both, because of the virus issue I have decided to reschedule for the summer. I've always heard Parisians leave town in August for vacation. Does that make Burgundy overwhelmed with tourists like Napa? Is September a better month to visit?
We were in Burgundy last summer in late August. I did not find it too crowded, but just right. The weather was nice also.