Saturday was the big event following the AWGA Industry Awards Banquet on Friday night: the Festival at the Farm!
Aside from being (like last year) an amazingly, fun, educational, friendly, well-attended (about 900?) event with creative touches in a beautiful setting on a gorgeous day, it was also a red-letter day for HBP: the first time my husband Nathan was my official second shooter!
He’s hotter than ever with a camera! Hurray!
Ahem, moving on…Here’s my list of Reasons Why The Festival At The Farm Is The Coolest Event In Phoenix. Seriously.
#1: Special Touches Added by Kerri Conlon of Type A Events.
Example: Cool signage to mark each growing region and identify each Arizona wine maker.
#2: Tons of Vendors.
Some wine fest have like 5 vendors. Not this one! At the FATF, if you don’t FOCUS you will run out of time before you’ve tasted them all. There are so many vendors and varietals now, I couldn’t show all of them here. But look for Arizona wines like these and many others at retailers like Total Wine, which has a whole AZ section, or AJ’s Fine Foods.
#3: The Chance to Hang Out with the Winemakers.
Yup, they’re there in the flesh, pouring and chatting with guests. Not just staff or volunteers, but the people that actually grow the grapes and stomp them into wine. Or however it is they do it.
#4: Real Wine Glasses!
As in, not a miniature little glass that you never use again or a plastic cup that makes the wine taste funny. A REAL glass to take home that you’ll actually use again.
#5: You Actually Can Learn Stuff (While Drinking More Wine).
Open seminars feature experts like Sariya Jarasviroj Brown of De Grazia Imports (she imports wine from Eastern Europe) and Pavle Milic (pictured below right, from FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale, where the wine list is ONLY Arizona wines). Sariya and Pavle discussed how to savor the tasting experience by incorporating all the senses, and why they support the growing local industry despite cynics.
The People’s Choice Seminar provided guests the opportunity to do a blind tasting of certain festival wines and pick a favorite. The judging was moderated by Richard Ruelas from the Arizona Republic. Later Pavle led the discussion about which grapes grow best in AZ while guests sipped more wines in the Judgement of Arizona seminar.
#6: A Real-Live Auctioneer.
Every fundraiser has an auction these days…but not one with a real auctioneer! This guy even went to Auctioneer School and brought two assistants to spot bidders (his sons! How cool is that? BTW did you know there is such a thing as Auctioneer School? I didn’t.) Guests bid (and bid high! This guy was good! He really drove the bids up!) on Chef-Winemaker pairings at Arizona restaurants. Proceeds benefit the AZ Wine Growers Association.
#7: People That I Really Like Are There.
I mentioned Kerri Conlon above; she worked closely with the Association Direction Rhonni and with Kelly Bostock, who’s one of the geniuses behind Dos Cabezas Wineworks (Kerri and Kelly are below, top left). She’s awesome. She’s a big fan of HBP and I owe her big time for all her support over the past couple years – and her husband Todd, who currently serves as the President of the AWGA.
Some other fun friends came this year, Courtney and Mike, and Lauren and Drew. And guess who those other peeps are? I finally got in front of the camera (thanks Court) with my sweet second shooter after two long days of shooting. Mission accomplished! I managed to squeeze in a couple wine tastings before leaving… As the day came to a close, the wine bottles piled up.
The glasses emptied, the dust began to settle, the sun set, leaving behind a quiet Farm, trampled grass, and lots of tired and happy wine makers.