Friday, July 18, 2008


The Finger Lakes Wine Festival is the first big wine festival of the Hudson-Chatham Winery 2008 World Tour. This is big event for us, and it is different than one would imagine. This is the first big wine festival I will be attending as a seller and not as a consumer. Our winery booth is 198 on East Riesling Row.

The beginning starts last night, when Matt Wiessmatel, our horticulturalist friend, opted to put down his pruning sheers and chain saw, and don the seller's garb for the weekend with me. A veritable road trip picture in the making. Late Thursday night we labeled and packed my wife's SUV with more than a pallet's worth of wine. Then we stuffed all the necessary parts, chairs, sale slips, cash box, bags, calculator, batteries, fan, and numerous other items for the long trip.

We got up at the crack of dawn. My wife was sick with worry - not for me - but for her car. I had completely overloaded it. The back wheels were partially hidden in the wheel wells the machine was so laden down. A little gallows humor - "we'll call you when we get a tow truck" - and we were off with the rising sun, with only four or five hours sleep under our belt.

Matt brought along a great CD filled with both great tunes, selections form the juke box from hell, and the 1955 Rutger's Men's Chorus singing the school fight song. Ugh! (I went to Fordham and UCONN). And then we were off. I was pilot. Matt, a former government cartographer, was my navigator.

The ride itself was uneventful, except for when Matt took us to Watkins Glen (the town) instead of Watkins Glen (The International Speedway). Of course, I forgot to tell him the festival wasn't being held downtown.

When we got there we did quick walk through of the hall. I was a little intimidated. Dominique and I had been to the Festival before. But now here we were putting up our sign in the same halls as Konstatin Frank, Atwater Estates, Swedish Hill, Glenora, Hunt Country, and many of the big names in the east coast wine industry. It was a little intimidating, and I certainly felt like the rookie I was.

Teams if people were working the big booths, putting up massive displays and setting up countless tasting stations and cash registers. Matt and I were amazed.

The it was off to work. In the 95 degree F day, the sun was beating down on us and the other workers without mercy. We unloaded the wine in the sweltering heat, and set the tables where we wanted them.

After we unloaded all the boxes, chairs, tables, etc., it was off to downtown Watkins Glen. Once there, and exhausted, Matt and I sat down town in the Harbor an a light lunch and lots of ice tea, diet coke, beer, and of course, a glass of wine - all the while looking at the boats in the lake.

The boats bobbed up and down in the lake's water, the sun shone, and the reflection was blinding. But we were cool and comfortable inside. A great way to end the day. But two hot days are looming at the fair - and we're freaking out.


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