Y’all I’m tired. Like wine-tired. Perhaps it was from the Wine Riot the other week, ahem. What? That was two weeks ago? And I am talking about it now? Yep, that is how tired I am. That and I have been super busy, excuses, excuses. Really though I have been trying to figure out how to summarize my RIOT (felt the need to shout it) experience. Do I only report the good or should I give it to you straight? Decisions, decisions.
First let me say that in my former life I was an event/conference planner. I have planned city-wide events and even planned a 45,000 person expo on a farm once. It is hard work. Beyond hard and probably why I don’t remember a good portion of my twenties. I was too busy whirling and planning at least one event a month. All of which is why I now work in a much quieter environment. My point? I get it. It is a tough gig. Now on with some criticism. First, look up the word riot. Not pretty. A violent crowd of angry people. Or like that was a riot, ha-ha. Mudpie and I went to the opening night. We quickly gathered that we were not among the cool kids and but we didn’t care. They did have 250 wines to taste. Turns out that was about 200 too many. With 250 wines there is a point where you stop tasting and you start drinkin’. The wines were organized by world region which I liked but quickly found out it was based on the distributor not the wines. So you could have an Italian wine in the California section because the reps were from California. Very confusing but I can’t come up with a solution except maybe to ditch the region all together. Perhaps listing the wines by region in the pamphlet and then the booth number beside the wine? Most of the vendors were knowledgeable about the wine they were pouring which was a super perk.
In an effort to be frugal and more budget savvy I decided to volunteer the following night to help with the riot in exchange for a free ticket. My thinking was a) I would save money and b) understand more about the wine business and meet people who love wine. So, yeah, I saved money but is 5.75 hours of manual labor worth a $55 ticket. Also,I had to trek downtown for a mandatory meeting prior to the event. However, I did get a bloody red t-shirt and 2 questionable bottles of wine at the end of the night.
You need more information: from the moment I entered the door to work the event where I had signed up for organizational chores (not physical or social chores) I was put on ice duty. Hell anybody can claim that loading ice is organizational. I did have to figure out how best to lay them on the pallet. And this all went something like “hey” *looks down at nametag* blurts out name in a loud fashion*”Cellarmouse, follow that guy”, “Cellarmouse, load the glasses on the table”, grabs t-shirt “Cellarmouse check in a thousand people at the door”, “work this class and pour 500 plus pours to these drunk attendees in this class”, “pick up lots of trash” empty spit buckets, ice buckets, any bucket”, “coat check”,”move boxes of wine”, “recycle those bottles” and nobody leaves until this is all done. I took one break to go to the restroom and the rest of the time I was working. There were a lot of volunteers working and get this, not a single one of them was doing a bad job. All of the volunteers were rocking it and most that I talked to were pissed. Volunteers were doing trash, recycling, ice, water the entire night. No one said they would do it again. I feel like I was herded, pushed around, talked down to, and suckered… and yeah I am bitter. The volunteer position was sold as one that is coveted, fun, hip, easy, breezy, cover-girl but we were free manual labor and we were the unwashed masses. That is how they are able to keep the price point down. Should this continue? Well I am not ever going to doing it again. I thought the volunteers would serve to represent Second Glass further since there were so many people. Answering questions, giving directions, listening to the vendors, etc… I didn’t think we were there to clean, trash, recycling, basically every task that you would expect from a facility to handle since you are paying to rent the room.
I did learn something from my volunteering and attending: wine representatives and event organizers could care less that you have a blog and are sharing with the world. Twitter? What is that? I think one rep told me that is “so my generation“. Oooh those crazy Gen-Xers. I did meet some very cool winemakers who are hip and so in love with what they do. Westport Rivers and Travessia were local winemakers who were excited about their wine and sharing it. It makes a huge difference to taste the wine straight from the people who work it. I can’t wait to visit their wineries and tell you guys more about their wines.
In summary, Wine Riot was fun but I would never volunteer again. I think my wine tasting limit is less than 10 wines at a time. Any more than that and you are entering into a numb palate area. I appreciate the effort the group running the event but still think something is missing.