Late last year, I launched the idea of the ‘Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup’ (ok not the shortest name.) The basic premise was simple; I observed lots of people here in Sonoma County were Facebook friends whom had never met, even though many worked in the industry, or were avid consumers. The idea was to put the ‘social’ in Social Networking. This is NOT a Tweetup; attendees are of course encourage to Tweet, but its a Social Networking event, use of Twitter (or really even Facebook) isn’t required.
I have had a lot of experience hosting events, happy hours, networking events over the years, and this one has evolved as I have learned what has and has not worked.
The events have become well attended, generally averaging 60 people an event, spiking over 80 a few times. It has been very rewarding every event to hear ” So great to finally meet you” and many people have made valuable connections, and in general the majority of the people had not been to the venue before.
Restaurants and bars have turned out to not always be a good choice, especially if we do the event on a Friday night, as is most popular, as they just don’t have the capacity for the extra patrons, and/or want deposits, guarantees, etc etc. Thus was born the idea of hosting it at wineries, as they can now pour by the glass, and also like the exposure. It is after all a ‘Wine Meetup.’ They aren’t excluded, but they need to fit into the format. Generally we do these Thursday or Friday night, Saturday night would be considered as well. (The Napa group has been using Monday nights, which have worked well for them, but hasn’t been done here to date.)
Who attends? The mix has differed each time, but its generally a mix of industry, consumers, and Social Media/PR people. Its a good cross section of exposure.
- Must have adequate space to accommodate 50-70 people; including a large enough serving area and staff; its a fair amount of people, packed into a 90 minute event.
- The event space must be able to accommodate the group in inclement weather; rain, cold evenings etc.
- If we do it at a restaurant or bar, there needs to be a separate area, clearly marked, and ample space, staff to support. No F&B deposits.
- The intent is for the venue to at a minimum, break even, if not make money via by the glass sales, but the exposure should be desired as well, to make this event worth your investment of time and staff.
- The location should ideally be in a accessible, central location to draw traffic.
- A check in desk that funnels people in needs to be created, and manned by the hosting venue. People pay, get name tags, raffle tickets, and then enter. I provide signage.
- Given people are consuming alcohol at then end of the day, some basic finger food should be offered. I have experimented with personally arranging outside caterers and collecting money at the door, and desire the venue to take responsibility for that.
- Its expected to charge a basic fee to cover the costs of food; in the past its been $5-10. I’d like the winery to collect that at check-in and pay the food purveyor if possible. Food could be left for general self serve, or be done via portions/per person with a ticket given at check-in.
- I don’t encourage giving away a lot of wine samples as it reduces wine sales, but in some cases its not a bad idea to have a method for attendees to sample wine. This could be done a variety of ways; your normal tasting fee; a ticket at check in (entry price can be bumped a bit if needed.)
- I do ask you pour wines in a affordable price range; offer a special for the event; as well as a special for drink there or take home, bottle sales. Goal would be to have at least one offering for ~$5.
- The event is attended by industry, so please support industry discounting. Some have offered Wine club/Industry for the night to everyone for bottle sales.
- I will do Social Media promotion, but its helpful and desirable if the Venue supports the event on Facebook, Twitter, newsletter etc.
- A sign in sheet of attendees is created and shared with the venue.
- Pictures and a Post Blog article on SimpleHedonisms.com will be done for follow-up visibility on the event.
- I ask you don’t schedule another event at the same time with out first discussing, permission.
- The Facebook event invite is created by me via the Fan page, and then you will also be made a admin, so that you can invite, promote etc.
- Have fun!
I am working to move these around the county, to different AVAs. These events thrive on participation of the local wineries, so we host one there, and you’d like more, please try and support and promote! Napa is not being ignored; Andrew Healy recently started a Napa Chapter, whose meetups have been very successful.
Drop me an email (see contact info) if you’d like to be considered for a host. Our next two are at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Glen Ellen Aug 26th 5-7pm (or later) and at Harvest Moon Winery Sept 23rd in the Russian River Valley.