Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Evolution of a Pouring has a unique dilemma.  As a wine retailer, it would love to expose its potential/customers to a broad array of wines in a large-scale event.  As a virtual enterprise, however, it does not have the facilities to support such an event.  Over the prior two years an event has been held in rented space at the Vue in downtown Orlando and, for this year, the venue was switched to the Winter Park Farmers Market.  Over the three years that this event has been held, there has been an evolution in approach which has, in my opinion, resulted in this year's event being the best yet.

As previously mentioned, the initial event was held in the social area (not the formal name but we are not standing on process here) of the Vue and everyone and his mother were there.  Wine resources were in great supply but they were obscured by the press of humanity and the L-shaped design of the room.  It was very difficult to get to individual tables because of the crush and patrons had to work the room based on the depth of the crowd at a table rather than the location of wines of primary interest.

For the second event, addressed the accessibility issue by limiting attendance to a little over 100 patrons but the room-shape problem still persisted.  With a little over 100 people in attendance, it was now possible to flow easily from table to table, to engage the pourers in more extensive dialogue, to hang around a table-of-interest for a longer period (without the feel of inconveniencing the entire hall), and to easily spot people that you know (assuming they were in the same quadrant of the "L" as you were).

This year's incarnation of the event was held at the old train depot that houses Winter Park's famous Saturday Farmers Market.

The old train depot, which has been restored as a historical landmark, is a brick construct with concrete floors and high ceilings that are adorned with string lights.  This setting, along with the exposed piping, is evocative of an industrial loft.

In addition to the one hundred 90+ wines of varying types, and from various regions, that were available for customer tasting, Loren and Angel Gil, the proprietors of Bodegas El Nido, were on hand to assist with the pouring of their wines.  The pouring was again limited to around 100 attendees.  This fact, coupled with the arrangement of the tables afforded by the single room layout of the venue, allowed for a free flow of patrons between the 12 pouring stations.

The company's best customers were afforded the opportunity to arrive a full 45 minutes before the official start time and thus were able to have a longer and more intense level of involvement in the event.

I think that has nailed it in terms of locale.  I think that their focus on limited number of attendees, resulting in a 1:1 ratio of attendees to labels on offer, has resulted in a better, smoother, more engaging experience for both the attendees and the pourers.The attendance of the Gils at this event hopefully signals a trend towards a larger involvement of winemakers in future events and, if that is to be the case, it would be great if took advantage of their presence to incorporate tasting elements into the program. has shown that their customers are kings as they continue to evolve this event for their benefit and greater enjoyment.

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