Sonoma and Napa Valleys LOVE and thrive on the Tourists flooding our wine regions each year. Bringing their laughter, joy, and that “aah” feeling experienced on vacation. However, there can be a small percentage every year who do NOT love us back. Who have packed their insecurities into their carry-ons, only to vomit them all over good, hardworking men and women at whose establishments they have come to frequent. Wineries and Restaurants receiving the Brunt. On Yelp.
Ruth Reichle in Garlic & Sapphires (a fabulous read) explains to honestly review a restaurant, one must go more than a handful of times to truly gauge quality. Yelp claims a more “democratic” process to their reviews. And while I have posted a few 1 Star reviews myself when 100% warranted, I usually post 4 and 5 Stars only. Because who am I to negatively judge a place with a 1,2 or 3 Star review? And who are You? After only visiting a place only once.
Now each Summer, we — the business owners in America’s most famous Wine Country and #1 wedding destination — occasionally hear, read, and laugh over the most ludicrous Yelp reviews of ourselves and our Peers. It’s become a source of dark merriment. Because unless you pay Yelp’s extortionist rates (upwards of $365 per month) to “adjust their algorithms” to show Positive Reviews first? 70-80% of your good reviews get buried beneath Negatives. Simply put, small businesses get screwed by Yelp. And there is nothing we can do about it. Except laugh — which I am sharing with you here.
My favorites so far this Summer are as follows:
1.) The guest who blamed a Farm for being “too outdoors” and ruining her Manolos (1 Star)
2.) The patron who slammed a Cafe because it was “filled with too many locals” (1 Star)
3.) A hired officiant who got caught speeding…and then caught drinking. Here. And deemed Annadel “inhospitable to guests.” (1 Star)
4.) The Bride who slammed a venue for not allowing her unlicensed bartender to pour. (1 Star)
5.) The guy who couldn’t order a vodka martini at a Bistro serving only wine & beer (1 Star)
6.) The couple that booked out a B&B for a weekend “for a family trip” and then sprang a full wedding (complete with rentals, catering, the works) on the Inn’s owners come Saturday. They were then charged the standard site fee and expressed outrage. (1 Star to the Inn)
7.) The breakfast diner’s customer who complained the town was “too small.” (2 Stars)
8.) And the girl who blamed a venue for..wait for it!.. The weather. It rained. (1 Star)
Now how to use Yelp correctly as a viewer? Scroll to the bottom of each listing. Look for the thin, light-gray rectangle titled “NOT RECOMMENDED REVIEWS.” Hit that. You’ll find the truly “democratic” reviews there. All of them. In chronological order.