Winery owners tell shocking tales of drunken tourists urinating in public and running naked through the vineyards, of stolen wine and loud profanity.
The problem is worsening, and winery owners are fermenting a plan.
Stealing a page from the sport of soccer, more than half of the 95 wineries in New York state's Finger Lakes region are participating in a program to issue yellow-card warnings to tour groups whose behavior is out of bounds. Those who continue their offensive ways will receive red cards and get booted off the region's three wine tour "trails." The Safe Group Wine Tours program is being uncorked this summer.
....In June, a woman in her 40s stripped off her halter top, slid her panties to her ankles and then yanked up her skirt in front of a crowd of wine-tasters on a nearby observation deck at
Red Newt Cellars in Hector, N.Y., near Watkins Glen.
Some people cheered, others were horrified, and Red Newt co-owner Debra Whiting saw red.
"I was so enraged," Whiting says. "Having someone basically strip at your winery is not a good thing."
"We don't want one or two people, who should be in a bar or home with their keg, ruining the good time of other customers," says Paul Thomas, executive director of the Seneca Lake Winery Association Inc. "Nobody wants tourists driving back to Philadelphia and having someone going topless in the vineyards as being their lasting memory of the wine trails."
The wineries are asking the region's 180 bus and limousine tour operators to take a more active role in policing their customers because it's predominantly their riders who become inebriated and wreak havoc, Thomas says.
Tour groups often bring along wine and coolers of beer because they can legally drink on their chauffeured rides to the wineries. They also can stop at bars for more drinking along the wine trails.