Oct 22, 2013

Salinas Valley Food and Wine year three.

This was the third year of the Salinas Valley Food and Wine Festival. Year one was, well, not great, but it was year one and the ball was rolling and that was a win. Year two made some great progress, particularly with the VIP experience, as it moved into the very nice Steinbeck Center. This year, it moved the VIP's into the exhibit center of the Steinbeck center which was very nice and added a great feel, and we were hopeful of year three being the best yet. In one way it was (exhibit center), but for those that paid the big bucks for a VIP experience, it was a big disappointment, and a serious overcharge for what was received. The street fair portion was spread over three city blocks, designed to include as many downtown businesses as possible, but in doing so spread things a bit thin. But by most accounts, as a general street festival the event was well received and attended. 

There was a car show and a number of bands. A farmers market and a series of food trucks (food for sale). Cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts for sale, and even a beer booth. While putting wine tasting tables inside local businesses must have sounded like a good idea, and in some cases it does work, trying to taste wine in an environment with strong perfume or food and beverage odors is a complete bust. The big disappointment was at the VIP experience.

First: Let’s review a simple definition of VIP.

"A Very Important Person or VIP is a person who is accorded special privileges due to his or her status or importance. VIP may be used as a title in a similar way to premium."

That being said, to purchase a VIP ticket (over $90) to an event that has less to offer (six wineries) than the regular ticket ($40 and 15 wineries) is a bit counter intuitive, and as far as we could tell there was no exclusivity. Every winery that poured in VIP poured to the general public, where is the special privilege? The wine being poured was good to very good, but to have a lot less on offer than the previous year and cost more was a disappointing situation.

Last year, there were a lot more wineries, and this year there was no beer, Sparkling wine, Tequila or Vodka tasting and no cooking demo's. Only one of the Pre-event wine competition Gold Medal wines was being poured by a winery in VIP, probably because only one of the Gold winning wineries was pouring at all in VIP. There were four of the medal winning (gold, silver or bronze) Pinot Noir available to taste, but poured by a volunteer, who knew nothing of the wines, but to add insult to the situation you had to select only one, as that was all you were allowed to taste. No interaction possible with the award winning wineries or any of the judges. Most of the food ran out at about three o'clock which was aided (would have run out earlier) by a lack of plates and utensils at some stations, and the tasting was being wrapped up by 4:30. Again, for an event that was advertised from 12 - 5 it was falling short for the VIP's.

The ride home program provided by Cardinale Way was very nice, but again lacked solid promotion, and there was no real obvious sign up location exiting the venue. 
You look around and see some new cars parked down the side street, so you wander over to see if this was the ride home place. It was, and next thing you know you are being whisked away in a new Audi or GMC vehicle. This was a great service as there were no designated driver tickets for sale (again). So thanks to Cardinale Way for the ride it was very much appreciated.

I summary, for all the possibilities and the little steps forward, for a VIP ticket they would need to ask us back to give them a second chance, and unfortunately a theme heard from a number of VIP ticket purchasing attendees.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

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