A few weeks ago on this blog I wrote about many of the things we’ve been doing during our stay-at-home time with the virus, and many of the things we’ve missed. It seemed that my Facebook feed has been filled with lamentations regarding missed anniversary trips, important graduations, birthdays and other milestones. For me, and most of us in the wine and spirit industry, we rely on tastings/events/classes for continuing education, as well as fodder for our blogs. For the consumer it may be the same, for the non-profit leader the loss of these events have been devastating.
In today’s article I will explore some of the events we didn’t have, and what we missed by not having them. (At press time these are the events that have either canceled for 2020 altogether, or have postponed further into 2020 with no possible way to know if their event will, indeed, actually take place.)
Wine on the Roof and Cocktails on the Roof are particularly devastating to me as I helped create both events to benefit our local middle schools and high schools in the Hart District. And while the rooftop format does allow for quite a bit of spacing, they still both attract a crowd, so not sure if the postponed dates for this year will happen.
The Santa Barbara Culinary Experience was poised to take place this past March 13. Cancelled the same week it was to occur, as many of the experiences allowed for many guests traveling from one spot to another.
The Paso Robles Cab Collective is an educational experience that is limited to some press and the public. The event focuses on the Cab and red Bordeaux varietals being grown in the area. I’ve learned a lot from past events and have come to respect the winemakers that are working very hard to get attention to their respective varietals in AVAs that have been more known for Rhônes and Zinfandel.
The Universal Whisky Experience was to have its 10th annual event this past April in Las Vegas. There are classes with distillers and brand ambassadors as well as one of the best whisky tasting events I’ve covered. Missed rubbing elbows with all of the whisky aficionados and learning from the best in the field.
Also missing a milestone year was the 5th Annual Masters of Taste that is the only event held on the field of the Pasadena Rose Bowl with top notch taste masters and beverage masters. “100% of event proceeds support Union Station Homeless Services, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit helping individuals and families rebuild their lives and end homelessness.”
Art Beyond the Glass, another cocktail event, was canceled but they were able to offer a virtual event. The live event is a special treat as dozens of bartenders dress up in themed costumes, there is live music, art displays and a bartending competition where each team tries to create the best cocktail. “Proceeds from every ABTG event are donated to a local arts-based nonprofit. To date, ABTG has raised more than $210,000 for cultural nonprofits in L.A. and across the country.”
The many Garagiste Festivals, voted best wine festivals in the U.S., were sorely missed. I enjoyed the educational seminars as well as tasting and talking with many small-producing winemakers. “The festivals are produced by Garagiste Events, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the education of future winemakers and those training for employment within the wine industry. Proceeds from the festivals support the Garagiste Festival Scholarship fund of the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo Wine and Viticulture Department.”
Many lesser known wineries and distilleries benefit from entering their bottles in various wine and spirit competitions. As a wine judge myself I know that they not only want an expert opinion on their wine/spirits, they also use their awards in their various marketing materials. At press time I did see that at least one had taken place live with social distancing.
I’m sure there are dozens of events that aren’t on my radar, and have been equally missed, especially events at wineries that are important for bottle sales and gaining wine club members.
I will leave you with this thought: If you can afford it support it. I have hyperlinked many of the non-profits above so you can check out what they do, and maybe you can make a donation or two if you are able to. If you have favorite wineries or distilleries please consider bottles purchases to support them as well.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.