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Wine Dinners… not necessarily only for instant sales

I have heard much criticism over the years about profitability of doing wine dinners. I have known wineries to flat out refused to do them. I have seen the numbers on paper and countless spreadsheets throughout the course of my career but I tend to look at them a little differently. I was part of one last Sunday that inspired me to write this article.

There is more to doing dinners and events than instant sales. There’s building trust and confidence between buyers and chefs and winemakers suppliers and sales reps.

I was part of a wine dinner last Sunday in an account we have slowly (very slowly) been able to build our business with. By the way yes I said Sunday, and I’m saying it was worth it. The layout for the dinner was super cool and the courses were served family style paired with three wines. The account only charged $35 and we only sold two cases of wine. Which is not exactly stellar sales right? However, I was seated at a table with five other guests. Three of which were kinda into their own conversation and two of whom I immediately felt a connection.

As we were eating, drinking wonderful wine and getting to know each other. I found out that the female works at another restaurant (group actually) that I have been trying hard to do more business with. Super cool! The male is the president of a media group in downtown Asheville responsible for many publications having to do with food, wine, beer and events. I have to say my ears and intuition did perk up a bit. As we got further and further into conversation I realize that her male friend is also best friends with two guys who run another local restaurant group whom I have started doing a lot more business with over the past year. Hmmmm.  You just say to yourself “small world”, right?

The dinner was great and the restaurant was super pleased with all our help. The supplier was also grateful I was there. The end?? Not so much…

The next day I received a phone call from said male dinner companion. He went on to say what a pleasure it was having dinner with me for he and his friend and then I made their night. I said the feeling was mutual. He then asked me about partnering with he and a local chocolate shop for 400+ guests. They want to do a wine and chocolate pairing and me be the exclusive wine partner. Well this of course was music to my ears. He was leaving the next day for a week and said we would talk details when he returned. Works for me.

The world gets smaller… That evening a coworker and I strolled out downtown to grab a snack at one of our favorite accounts and lo and behold the man I had met at dinner and had a long follow-up phone call with was sitting there at the bar with the owner and buyer of the restaurant. He gave me a huge hug. My point is we do many things in our line of work to complete the big picture. If you only see the short term you will forever be playing “catch-up”.