Last year, the wine court was bumped from their prime real estate next to the State Fair TMs Chevrolet Court and pushed out to a more remote location. Now in its second year, the new tent is still causing plenty of grumbling among fairgoers.
"75% of our customers are frustrated because they have a hard time finding us and because there aren't people on the fairgrounds that can direct them to where we are," said Mike Linehan from Glenora Wine Cellars.
Several fairgoers said that once they found the wine tent they were underwhelmed by the setup. "Before, they had the tables and chairs, you could sit there, there's nothing here, said Michelle Ellsworth. You kind of walk in and walk out."
The wine court also faces some geographical challenges. The tent is located directly downhill from the cow barn and wineries say rainy days have been problematic. "When it rains, it rains, said Tracey Nichols from Ashley Lynne Winery. Runs right in here. Not so nice for people to stand in."
The State Fair TMs Public Relation TMs Director said the situation isn TMt perfect but there are a lot of considerations to balance.
"We had a lot of problems when the wine court was up on the colonnade, said Fred Pierce. It's a very congested area and frankly, the situation it created wasn't friendly to families and the seniors we had trying to go to the midway or to restaurant row."
The main wine tent is just part of the controversy. Several wineries told Action News they were required to rent a booth at the new Grandstand Winery tent if they wanted to have a booth in the main tent. The Grandstand Winery isn TMt allowed to open until 4pm and several wineries described it as a ghost town and a drag on their business.
Wineries had some reason to smile however. Most of them said that, despite the obstacles, bottle sales were up this year. "It's difficult but the people who want to find us are getting down here, said Mark Lineman.
It appears that customers love the wineries, even if they don TMt love the new tent.