We're well into summertime in California, with June-gloom mornings seemingly behind us and beautiful, clear days like today to look forward to, hopefully for the next few months. What pairs well with summer days and evenings, you ask? Lots and lots of wine-tasting events...
John and Lisa, Annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration 2012
Alma Sol has survived four of the six scheduled events for the 2012 season. (Hint for those of you who have not had the chance to join in the fun....there's still time!) Each of the four adventures we've outwitted (maybe), outplayed (now pushing it), and outlasted (yes!) thus far provided memorable moments and new notches to proudly display on our winery owner belts. Please humor us as we take a moment or two for deep reflection.
First, there was Hacienda Oaks First Harvest Spring Farm Festival, where we synchronized our pouring to the rockin' vocals of Eddie Money, who lives nearby in Westlake Village and donated his time to support the Hacienda Oaks Estates, whose mission is to provide sustainable farming opportunities in the community as well as help disabled adults live productive lives. Highlight of the evening: Lisa literally running into Eddie Money before he went on stage to perform, dumbfounded and speechless she was, with Eddie responding, "Hey, how ya doin', Darlin'?" Pouring from that moment forward was liberal and free. Approximately 150 souls served.
Next up was the Wine and Moonlight event to support the Moorpark Kiwanis club. This was a lovely event - manageable crowd, with wonderful, local merchants, restaurants, and music. We were the talk of the evening, though not solely for our wines. You'll recall we had a solar eclipse? Yes, well, we were the only winery to come prepared with solar eclipse viewers (envision 3D glasses), which afforded wine-drinking patrons with an absolutely mind-blowing experience while sipping our Cabernet. Needless to say, many came back for more, and more, and more. Approximately 200 souls served.
And then there was Casa Pacific Food and Wine Festival, hosted in a lush, green-grass courtyard on the campus of Cal State Channel Islands. Colleagues in the industry cautioned us about this one. Five thousand tickets sold, for tastes from 40 wineries and an equivalent number of restaurants. We were too stubborn to ask our friends to help us pour, so we braved the five thousand thirsty souls alone. Four hours later and surprisingly only two and half cases down, we packed up, dazed and confused. John looked up and asked, "What just happened?" Though slightly beaten down, this one was rewarding, as it led to a full-page spread, replete with four photos in the local Ventura County Star newspaper. Somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 souls served...we think.
And most recently, we participated in the Annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration (Alma Sol is a proud member of the VCWT) at Heritage Square in downtown Oxnard. After major triumphs at the prior three events - especially overcoming the 5,000-person event - we thought we had this one in the bag. Nine hundred tickets sold? No problem...this should be a cinch. You can guess of course that we poured and poured until we could pour no more. Those Ventura County residents cleaned us out completely. Of the 900 souls, surely we served at least two thirds - some, two and three times over.
Top Ten Lessons Learned About Pouring Events
10) Wine bottle weight-training at least two weeks prior is a must if you're to last four hours or more of pouring. Do not take this lesson lightly.
9) Do not underestimate the value of investing in a good Handicart, especially when parking one mile or more from your tasting booth.
8) Leave one hour before you think you need to and set up early...there are always VIPs allowed to saunter in early for privileged first dibs.
7) Also leave earlier than needed to meet your pouring and tasting colleagues. The most valuable part of an event is the local industry folk you can meet.
6) Pare down your offerings; one red and one white works surprisingly well for large events where choice can be overwhelming. "We have a red and a white," we quipped, as lines grew long. Most people were happen to have an easy choice to make.
5) No matter how experienced we have become, we may never become used to that surprise customer or two who actually does use the spit bucket; we encourage it, but we just won't ever get used to it.
3) People drink...a lot; and people drink more during a hot day.
2) Do not wear white - duh.
1) Top lesson learned: We love talking about wine with novice and experienced wine drinkers alike. Whether you are just beginning or are a pro, we're simply happy to share what we know, how we know it, and what we do with what we know.
And with that, so it goes: We hope you enjoy our soulful craft. Until next time...salud!
John and Lisa