Pinot Days Chicago 2008 Trip – Day One by valleyfog

picture-008Pinot Days Chicago was a total blast! The event, on Saturday, November 15, 2008, was our first public tasting. We poured samples of three of our wines: 2006 Hein Vineyard (Anderson Valley) Pinot Noir, 2007 Wentzel Vineyard (Anderson Valley) Pinot Noir and 2007 La Encantada Vineyard (Santa Rita Hills) Pinot Noir and we were thrilled by the positive response. I think Jennifer and I were a bit anxious about hearing the feedback – we like these wines, but we really hoped that others did too. So, needless to say, when people started tasting and enjoying our wines, we were relieved. It started out slowly, though.

picture-001The trade tasting was from 11am-1pm and we were a little late getting our table set up (slept in due to our 2 year old not sleeping well the previous night). So after we got our bottles out & opened up, our 40×20 poster on an easel, and collateral carefully arranged on the table, we stood and awaited the masses. Our early “customers” included a couple of sales managers from Binny’s, my favorite high-volume wine/beverage store in the Chicago area. The Des Plaines location is conveniently on the way to my sister’s house from the airport, so I always stop in to pick out a few choice bottles (of Pinot, of course). Other buyers, wine bar owners and distributors came by and tasted as well. We definitely had interest from a few distributors for representation in the Chicago area, which we would love.

Brian pouring Pinot Noir for some brave souls

Brian pouring Pinot Noir for some brave souls

The public tasting opened up at 1pm and ran until 5pm. This is when things got really fun. We had a great time chatting with people about our wine, their wines and everything else in between. We looked around at other tables, though, and initially, it seemed that attendees were gravitating towards other wineries and not as many were coming to us. This is where a mix of design staging, salesmanship and PR come in. Design staging: we mounted a 40″ x 20″ poster of our label on foamcore and set it up behind us on an easel – the beautiful photograph was a beacon calling people to our table. Salesmanship: you’ve got to catch the attention of the people walking by at a distance and invite them in to your world of wine. PR: we had more than a few friends and family at the event that were chatting up Waits-Mast and sending people our way.

And then we got some momentum. There were a few people that were really struck by our wines. Notably Luke and his friend Bill. Luke described the aroma from our 2006 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley as “a perfume so lovely I wish my wife would wear it!” As he went through our flight of three wines, he wrapped up with our 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills and was beside himself about this wine. I believe he said, “I’ve died and gone to heaven.” He really wanted to know what was the “magic” that went into creating this “perfect symphony” (his words, I swear!) of a wine. I did my best to explain the science of making that wine, but the rest of it is pure art (and an expression of a great vineyard and grower).

Luke and some other new Waits-Mast "regulars" enjoying another round of La Encantada

Luke and some other new Waits-Mast "regulars" enjoying another round of La Encantada


Luke made his way around the rest of the show, but came back to us with new friends and others he had been directing towards our table. According to Luke, “the whole show was worth it just to meet the two of you.”

By the end of the day, we had some “regulars,” in addition to Luke, who kept returning to our table, helping us finish off the last few bottles. Mark Phillips, who has a PBS special and his own stemware line and is friends with our friends Lisa and Blair, was there with his friends too. It was also fun to meet a few wine bloggers, including Pinot Noir enthusiast Douglas Trapasso of Chicago Pinot and Bill Wilson from Wine for Newbies (be sure to see his wrap-up post about Pinot Days, which includes some great wine tasting etiquette tips).  The overwhelmingly positive feedback was more than we could have ever imagined. Tired, cold and hungry, we headed home for the evening still buzzing from the day’s festivities.

Waits-Mast collateral exhibiting the dripping damage of the day

Waits-Mast collateral exhibiting the dripping damage of the day

8 Comments so far
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Brian and Jennifer…Sounds like fun in Chicago. Did you know Bill Wilson of Wine for Newbies is a Clay classmate of mine? Love your blog, but more importantly, love your Pinot!

Comment by Chris

[…] terms of the La Encantada, many people commented on the beautiful aroma (one guy at Pinot Days in Chicago in November joked that he wished he could bottle the scent and have his wife wear it as a perfume) […]

Pingback by A View from the Table: Canyon Market, Wine 2.0 and “Passion for Pinot” Tastings « ValleyFogBlog

[…] seems like only yesterday that we were pouring at Pinot Days Chicago, our very first public tasting, back in November. It was lots of fun and we’re excited to be […]

Pingback by Pouring at Pinot Days San Francisco this Sunday « ValleyFogBlog

[…] and Australia. As a small lot producer pouring for the first time at Pinot Days San Francisco (we poured at Pinot Days Chicago last year), we were the relative unknowns, but saw a steady stream of traffic and made some new friends. […]

Pingback by Pinot Days San Francisco 2009 « ValleyFogBlog

[…] The throngs headed in for the public tasting at 1pm and that’s when the fun really began. We met a bunch of really interesting folks and even saw some fans of our wine who we’d first met at the 2008 event. […]

Pingback by “Bangin’ Juice” at Pinot Days Chicago 2009 « ValleyFogBlog

[…] “Hot Shit Pinot Noir.” That was the subject heading of an email we received a few weeks ago from a fervent fan from Michigan who had tried our wine at Pinot Days Chicago 2008. […]

Pingback by “Hot Sh*t Pinot Noir” and “Sexy Tannins” « ValleyFogBlog

[…] were so hectic that Jennifer wasn’t able to capture as many great quotes as in 2009 and 2008. Tasters seemed to enjoy both wines, saying that the 2008 La Encantada “tastes like fall in a […]

Pingback by “Tastes Like Fall in a Glass”: Pinot Days Chicago 2010 « ValleyFogBlog

[…] year has been memorable, in 2008 we met some folks who have become regular customers, in 2009 we were told that we had […]

Pingback by Pinot Days Chicago Tasting Brings a Waits-Mast Customer to Tears « ValleyFogBlog

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