I’ve worked with dozens of private clubs in my career, and the objective for each event is always the same: provide members with a unique and memorable experience that is only available to them through their membership.
Wine dinners offer a meaningful way to connect with members, especially if a few key rules of thumb are followed.
• Spend time with the winery representative before the dinner. I like to meet with club representatives ahead of time so that I understand the demographic and interests of their members. That way I can tailor my presentation to each group.
• Keep it educational, interactive and fun! Offer attendees information they wouldn’t normally get in a restaurant (or retail) setting. I have a long background in grape growing and winemaking. While I try not to overload people with too much science, I find that most people are fascinated by the winegrowing process. Sometimes I’ll bring jars with soil samples from our vineyards to show how different soils affect the taste of the wine.
• Involve the chef. I met with Executive Chef Thayer Johnson of the Stone Brae Country Club in Hayward, CA and tasted through our wines with him prior to the dinner we’re holding there in January. I know that menu is going to be perfectly matched to our wines!
• Get members involved. Rob Martin, club manager at Wycliffe Country Club in Wellington, FL (where I hosted a dinner in January 2017) went so far as to send two of his members, Vince and Halina Bond, to visit me at the Flora Springs Estate. Rob mentioned that it was Halina’s 70th birthday so I brought sparkling wine and balloons to the tasting!
• Keep it personal. Talking about barrel fermentation and lees stirring only goes so far. What people really want to hear are the stories behind the wines. What’s the winery’s history? Who are the owners and how did they get into wine? Today, wine is a lifestyle as much as a beverage, and people want to know what’s behind the glass they’re enjoying.
• Pour a mix of available and exclusive wines. I find that people enjoy tasting wines they can purchase at retail, but they also love trying more exclusive wines available only through the winery. When I host a dinner I often bring a couple of our single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. These are small production wines that are only sold at our tasting rooms and through our wine clubs, and they’re a great demonstration of what Napa Valley has to offer. BR
Richard Tiedemann is the director of winery relations at Flora Springs Winery. As Flora Springs Winery’s director of winery relations, Richard Tiedemann knows how to make a wine dinner special. He ought to. In 2016 he hosted over thirty wine dinners for Flora Springs, and in 2017 he has forty more on the calendar, including twenty with Distinguished Clubs. He is a fifth-generation Napa Valley native whose family has grown grapes since the late 1880s. In September 2016, he spoke at the Distinguished Ideas Summit at the Union League of Philadelphia. He can be reached at email@example.com.