My taste in wine is nothing to brag about. As long as the bottle is somewhere between Trader Joe’s infamous two-buck chuck and $10, I think it’s delicious. One day, if my paycheck permits it, I might bump my price range up. But until then, I’m content with my bottom-shelf bottles.
That being said, when I heard the 10th annual Cal Poly Wine Festival was coming up on March 31, I had no choice but to buy a ticket — and convince five of my friends to do the same. The $55 ticket is very reasonable when you take into account the 61 participating wineries and restaurants.
I was hoping this year would turn out better than the ninth annual festival, which ran out of wine before the allotted 4 p.m. ending time. By 3 p.m. last year, there wasn’t a drop of wine left in any cups or bottles. My hopes for the event were not fulfilled, unfortunately.
I made sure I was early this year, just in case the wine ran dry. So I was standing in line at 12:30 p.m., patiently waiting to be let in with my general admission ticket at 1 p.m. — VIP was allowed to start sipping wine at noon.
As soon as the clock struck one, all the soon-to-be wine connoisseurs flooded the event tents, which were erected in a horseshoe-like pattern. People didn’t seem to mind the increasing rain, which had turned from a light sprinkle to a consistent drizzle, and winds that were picking up.
Everyone was walking around clutching their engraved, complimentary wine glasses gratefully gulping down the chardonnays and merlots and zins poured by vendors. A select few were even lucky enough to score one of Mo|Tav’s sliders and Splash’s miniature bread bowl before mother nature stepped in.
By 2 p.m., the wind-rain combination was so strong it had volunteers scrambling to put on ponchos, the band had to stop playing and the middle portion of the tent horseshoe was being evacuated amongst rumors of a pole hitting an attendee.
No one seemed to be fazed, though. Up to this point, people were still standing in lines 20-person-deep to get a taste of Cal Poly alumni Brandon Allen and Chip Forsythe’s Sexual Chocolate wine or get their picture snapped in the event’s photo booth.
Then, the rumblings of the event shutting down began to spread — vendors had been officially ordered to stop serving. No one, to my knowledge, made an official announcement, but by 2:30 p.m., a mere hour-and-a-half into the event, the charter buses were loaded and all the attendees were on their way back to Cal Poly. A few stragglers, such as myself, milled around the empty tent as tables were cleared out while waiting for rides.
It might have been the wine that had everyone in good spirits, because for the most part, no one had complained in an over-the-top fashion. It seemed like everyone just kind of took the news as it was, but voiced the desire for refunds clearly — a plea I feel is valid considering we got less than half of what we were promised.
The worst part is, as soon as the last of the attendees were leaving, the sun started to make its first appearance of the day — if only they hadn’t stopped the pouring.
Obviously, it would have been impossible for the festival planners to control the weather. But the Wine Festival’s track record isn’t looking too good right now. This year’s ending time paired with last year’s lack of wine calls for some explanations.
It’s time to call on the public relation’s team and start offering up some compensations; otherwise, I don’t think next year’s tickets will sell out … as fast — yeah, the college crowd will keep buying the tickets, even if it’s reluctantly.
The Mustang Daily was also unable to send a reporter to the event because the event planners declined to grant a press pass. This is unrelated, but another aspect that I hope to see change in the 11th annual festival.