Let It Snow: A Report & Slideshow from the Ventura Winter Wine Walk 2011

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Last night my family– with one of my son’s friends in tow– headed to downtown Ventura to see the Christmas tree, the snow, the music, and possibly run into winemaking friends and taste a wine or two at the second Ventura Winter Wine Walk.

The snow was fun and band was great–crazy to be dancing in the street with friends and Mayor Fulton (see slideshow) and snow flying around, landing in people’s hair, hats, and tongues, melting quickly. We even had our photo taken with Santa! (Isn’t the snow on the blog fun as it floats over the slideshow??)

The Ventura Wine Walk event, sold out over 1500 $42 tickets once again, packed the streets and the stores with people. Long lines of people waiting for wine and food extended through the stores and at times out into the streets. Danny Saldana of Anacapa says last year he served three times as many tastings as he was told to prepare for; this year, he was told to serve 500 tastings and at 730, his keg with 750 tastings ran out. People were NOT happy–but what was Danny to do? I heard that food and wine ran out many places close to the center of downtown by 7:30pm while locations on the outskirts, like Tuttis, had plenty of room, wine, and food.

At Palermo, Vino V winemaker Michael Meagher was still pouring his White Hawk syrah (which retails for $32 a bottle at the winery) but that could be because he gave 1-2 ounce pours and he was pouring his own wine. Jennifer, the manager at Palermo who is also a foodie and with her husband/roaster owns Beacon Coffee, says she learned a lot after last year’s event and specifically asked Michael to pour outside on the patio instead of filling the store with people lined up to taste wine and sample food.  He was told to bring 5 cases and since he only makes about 500 cases, that’s a significant investment of his time and his wine.

While Michael did sell a few bottles of wine, I heard a lot of people grumbling because he wasn’t a heavy pourer. But then again, by that point, most of the people were tipsy if not flat out intoxicated.For those who were interested, Michael took the time to tell them about the wine. I know at least one other person who felt that his syrah was probably one of the best wines being poured at the event!

Even though signs abounded that alcohol was not allowed outside the premises of the various participating establishments, most people were walking down the streets with half full glasses of wine throughout the event and after it was supposed to be over.

A little after 8pm, when the event was technically over and the pouring was to end, I saw one very attractive woman bent over throwing up in the El Jardin Courtyard and several other people looked like they were going to lose it too. We hustled to our car to get out of downtown before there were too many drunks on the road.

On a positive note, I was happy to see that event organizers provided participants with govino glasses branded with a local realty office as well as the event; they also had a sticker on them to show where a two ounce pour line should be.

So while this second year of the event is an unqualified success in the sense that it sold out and over 1500 people tasted a lot of wine and food and somebody made a TON of money (retailers paid to participate, wineries paid for the wine), is this the kind of event we want in Ventura?

And is this how we want people to taste and think about wine?

And now that I have this off my chest, I am off to the Cave to the annual Champagne tasting followed by a trip to Ojai to pick up our wine club wine and taste there too!