It did not go as I had originally planned. Green Mountain College was unable to buy from an independent distributor that they do not already have a contract with, and therefore were unable to host a tasting of Dennis’s wines. So, as a last minute solution, Dennis and I managed to pull together a wine tasting on the Thursday before THanksgiving at 8:30 at night, and after much preparation and publicizing I was praying dearly for a miracle.
In the meantime, Dennis and I had managed to get in contact with three of the four salspersons we had originally had in mind for wine sales! Donald of Roots of Rutland restaurant was greatly interested and scheduled several followup meetings considering his busy schedule during the holiday season. He is interested in anything local and building up the local economy, so Dennis’s local wines were a huge hit as being the first winery in the Rutland county area!If all goes well, you should be seeing Dennis’s wines served at Roots in the Spring!
Dina of the East Poultney General Store accepted one shipment in and sold out almost immediately! When I met with her again, she said Dennis’s wines were an enormous hit and is greatly interested in future shipments of his four debut wines, especially his Frontenac Gris Rose!
Joan at the Back to Vermont Pub met with Dennis regarding the sale of his wines at her pub and although she did not give a solid answer, she was generally interested especially because Dennis’s wines had already been mentioned to her by a few GMC students!
And lastly, Mike of the Rutland Co-op regularly sells local wine from East Shore Vineyards, Putney Mountain Winery, Fresh Tracks Farm and Shelburne Vineyards. He said he was greatly interested in the sale of Dennis’s wines, and that they had already been mentioned to him by Donald at Roots next door! All and all, the publicity paid off!
I managed to set up a Twitter account for Dennis and publicize his winery also through Facebook. THe Biking under the Influence Campaign didn’t attract many bikes, but we sure had a tasting!
Around 8 o’clock (even though I had said 8:30) on Thursday night, Dennis came to my door. “I think some people arrived early,”he said, and bustled his way into the winery while I prepared snacks to greet them with: roasted fingerling potatoes from Boardman Hill Farm with Plymouth Farm cheese, Cabot cheese and crackers, and kielbasa and chorizo bites also raised on Boardman Hill Farm. It was a local feast, and the reception of all the local goodies was incredibly supportive!
The first batch of people (somewhere around twenty people had arrived by 9:30) had finished the first round of the Wine Tasting and Tour, and more were steadily arriving, so Dennis and I collaborated and split the group into two seperate groups. Those who had already tasted his four premier wines would then follow Dennis into a tour of the Wine Cellar where they would be shown his winery, crushers, pressers, fermenting tanks, bottling technology and individual experiments, while getting a step by step lecture on how exactly Dennis makes his wine. Those who had not finished the wine tasting in the central farmhouse would remain with me until they had tasted each one, and then they would filter down to the larger area where the other group was being led.
Initial reactions were spectacular. Andrew Kohler, 22, of Green Mountain College approached me a few days later barely able to contain his excitement. “That wine tasting was fantastic! I had so much fun, and I think a lot of people came back!”
And they did. Dennis was a bit worried because he went through a total of 16 bottles of wine with a 4oz tasting per wine per person, and only one was sold that night. Failure seemed imminent. I immediately feared the worst: that GMC students had seen my posters and FACEbook invites and come just to get drunk for free. But no sooner had I returned home for lunch the very next day and there was a car full of people pulling into the driveway every 15 minutes! Dennis happily told me the news that night while I was helping him cut up some beef he had just butchered: he sold more than he went through, making not only publicity but profit and many students offered to volunteer for him during the summer months! He was ecstatic.
Our attendance was superb: over 30 people including GMC students, faculty and Alumni. I had to put out a guest list because I couldn’t remember all of the people that came off the top of my head! ID checking went well, there was lots of hugs and warm greetings as people arrived, and all and all the night went wondrously.