Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Carytown Wine Festival Is A Joke

For reasons that I still can't comprehend I got sucked into the Carytown Wine Festival his past Sunday for the third time in the last four years. I guess it's because Sunday is like my weekend and I figured that any festival centered around booze has to be a good way to start my two days off. Well I figured wrong.

20 bucks earns you entry and a shitty wine glass. I would've been better off going down the street to NY Deli and buying 10 bottles of PBR, which taste wise, would've rivaled the stuff at the festival. And I did infact end up drinking about 10 bottles of PBR throughout the course of the night, but I'll get to that fiasco in a minute.

My issues with the wine fest:

- The wait. You wait and you wait and you wait at each tent (there were only 5-6 tents) and then you get 4 teeny-tiny squirts of whatever rotgut, sitting out in the sun, cheap ass VA wine the wineries decided to trot out. The exception was the Peaks Of Otter tent, which isn't actually wine, but more like alcoholic fruit juices. Here they give you 15 "squirts" in a row of their fruity concoctions, including the spicy chili pepper wine (which is like taking a shot of tabasco sauce). Also if I remember correctly, Horton winery made their tent the other worthwhile tent due to a quick process and over 11 wines to sample. I'm not saying that either of these tents provided good wine, I'm just saying that their process and number of wines made it somewhat bearable. What usually happens at these things is I get impatient and end up purchasing a bottle, which may be the wineries intent all along; Bore the crowd into a stupor and force them to make a purchase so they don't have to deal with the lines and the people.

- The help. Okay so I may be used to standing for long hours, pouring drinks and forcing a mile wide smile, so maybe it's wrong of me to complain. But c'mon, 90 percent of the "wine volunteers" had all the personality of a brick wall. I understand that I look like I'm 20 years old, but that doesn't mean you have to be a bitch and not explain the wines and the process. I got passed over a few times in favor of some bluehairs behind me. I also got to witness one volunteer be a complete bitch to a young African-American couple because they asked to retaste one of the wines. My suggestion to wineries: When conducting taste tests at a festival where people pay at the gate, find some help who knows what they're doing.

I want my money back. They can have the wine glass. The only cool part of the festival is the Peaks tent and that's only because it's like getting to taste a bunch of magic markers.

I enjoy good wine, I like learning about wines and I like to experience things that I never have before. I even took a job in sales with a small wine distributor in DC before deciding to start bartending full-time. I attended this festival to enjoy my Sunday and to drink some good wine, not to get shit-housed. Well, the Carytown Wine Festival failed me on all counts.

My date and I ended up leaving and bouncing to a few bars on Cary, and then I somehow made a complete night of it at numerous other bars in the fan (where my transgressions and drunken phone calls need never be spoken of again). Lucky for my readers you can see me and my full hangover glory in tomorrow's issue of Style Weekly. I won't elaborate on why this is, but they needed a picture on the fly, on Monday, a day I spent in bed nursing the worst hangover I've had in a long time. It's not going to be pretty. Check back tomorrow for more details on the Style piece. I have a feeling that it may be a very embarrassing Wednesday for JGF.


in vino veritas said...

i concur, what about that shit show is a festival? - "a taste of carytown", my ass. i have a post about this that i have been to lazy to put up. the whole thing is bollocks. food and wine? right. inordinately cruddy wine including that shite that resembles boone's farm from the bedford otter, ginger (the restaurant) and funnel cake. we ended up somewhere else entirely as well. good to see jason's crush on you has panned out.

iwishicouldcook said...


you drank this shite?

didn't think magic markers, but that seems to be pretty accurate.

suzie said...

i agree, big waste of money, its soo frustrating, that i usually just buy a bottle of wine, they are not friendly to people in their twenty, even thought they are in the center of our neighborhood, and we are more likely to waste money on booze

Anonymous said...

Virginia wineries are a joke. I love making fun of C-ville winos who think that all the mountain wineries are actually comparable to California or even Oregon.

Anonymous said...

The VA wineries I've been to have been extremely tacky, like they were decorated from Lillian Vernon or Spencer Gifts.

Flee, quickly!!

Anonymous said...

The VA wineries I've been to have been extremely tacky, like they were decorated from Lillian Vernon or Spencer Gifts.

Flee, quickly!!

Existential Punk said...

Most things is Richmond are a joke. Anyone who has ever lived outside Richmond in a bigger city knows Richmond takes itself too seriously in the cultural department. The BEST thing in Richmond, culturally, is VCU's annual French Festival. But to those who maybe have not ventured out of Central VA much think everything cultural in Richmond is the cat's meow. Great post!

Anonymous said...

So you went to a small wine festival in the center of the city on a hot summer day, with so may people at it that you could barely move, and expected to get personal attention in the form of detailed discussion about wines and wine processes AND an accurate taste of the wines being offered? In this environment, there's know way you can accurately taste and judge the wines (although I agree there is a good amount of bilge out there).

If you look at it from the perspective of the wineries there (I've helped out once or twice), this is one of the many festivals where most people are there just to get ****faced and don't give a damn about the wine. If the volunteers working the tents actually took the time to have lengthy discussions with everyone that came through, they'd loose their voices 1/2 way through the show instead of barely making it til the end.

Many of the smaller wineries in VA make some of the best wine out there. Unfortunately, Virginia state laws make it extremely difficult for small-sized wineries to get their into the market, leaving wine festivals as one of the only profit outlets (although conditions are far from ideal, at these events).

If you want to actually taste the wine, the only real way to do this is visit the winery. It's crazy to think you're going to get a viable wine tasting at a festival like this, unless you come real early.

Marcus said...

Jack, you need to lighten up. If you understand anything about the local wine industry you will realize that these are promotional events designed to allow people to 'have a good time' rather than to learn and taste all the intricacies of VA wines. If you only goal is to sample wines under perfect conditions and to have a winemaker explain about each wine you should be going visiting individual wineries (when they are not very busy). What do you expect at a wine 'festival'?

I enjoy these types of festivals because I go planning to find a bottle from a winery that I can purchase and enjoy while soaking up the atmosphere, music and company. I've never been disappointed. I think you are just at the wrong place with the wrong expectations. I'm sure the wineries wouldn't appreciate your bad mouthing their efforts when they are not marketing the events to people of your mindset.