Celebrating 23 Years of Wine Tasting for Wine Buyers and Consumers
Since it’s founding in 1991, Family Winemakers of California has presented an Annual Tasting. Originally, the Tasting was developed as a trade-only event; an opportunity for member-wineries and California’s wine trade to gather together and talk about the issues foremost in the minds of industry members while tasting great wine. Because FWC represented the smaller wineries the tasting was a unique opportunity to showcase the winemaking craftsmanship of vintners from across the state.
The original event at the Sheraton Palace Hotel featured 46 wineries and with each Annual Tasting, its reputation as one of the finest opportunities to taste a broad, cross section of California wines grew. And the size of the tasting grew. Each year more wineries chose to attend and pour wines. More restaurateurs, retailers, distributors and media converged on the tasting. The Annual Tasting quickly became one of the most anticipated wine events in California.
The FWC Tasting in 2012 opened its doors to wine trade, media and consumers on Sunday, September 9 at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion in San Francisco. Once again, it was an opportunity to taste great wines and meet the winemakers and owners behind some of California finest wineries. Over 250 wineries poured 1,000 wines and dozens of wineries made their debut at the event. The annual tasting will return to San Francisco on August 17-18, 2013.
An evolution Seeking to accommodate the developing interest in a diverse tasting, Family Winemakers of California moved the tasting to the elegant, and larger confines of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. By 1996, the continued growth of the tasting forced a new move to One Market Plaza, where for the first time consumers were invited to attend the tasting. The response was phenomenal, as wine lovers from across the Bay Area and the state recognized what the wine trade had known for years -- the Annual Tasting was a rare opportunity; it was an event where all of California’s wine regions and many of the finest wineries in the state were on display.
In 1997, a larger venue was again needed. The Annual Tasting moved to Herbst Pavilion, on the water at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. This tasting presented over 125 wineries from across the state. Owners and winemakers attended and poured their wines. And over 1,700 people attended. The 1998 tasting again drew a record number of wineries and attendees, suggesting a need for more space in 1999. That next year FWC moved the tasting into the larger Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center and hosted 204 wineries and over 3,500 trade, media and consumers.
On its 10th anniversary the event featured 235 wineries and over 4,500 attendees. In the intervening years Family Winemakers has hosted upwards of 405 wineries at the San Francisco event. One phenomenon that marks FWC’s Tasting is the debut of many new, hard to find wineries. This facet of the tasting speaks to its marketing power for small producers and the opportunity for wine buyers to enliven wine lists. Many winery principals and winemakers participate to provide a personal connection to their wine for attendees
The tasting continues to evolve based on the needs of association members. In 2004, Family Winemakers combined a separate consumer only event with the annual tasting and now holds back-to-back tastings. The first day now includes consumers, although wine trade gain early admission and can take advantage of this day to visit more wineries. The second day is solely for wine trade. In 2005, the tasting moved from its traditional post-harvest calendar slot in November to late August. The move was predicated on a desire to give the wine buying trade additional time to place holiday orders.
In 2000, Family Winemakers started holding a tasting in the Los Angeles area for wine trade. Over the past 10 years the event has been held at the Pasadena Convention Center and typically draws 200+ wineries and over 1,000 members of the wine trade. It is the most comprehensive tasting of California wines in the Los Angeles area.
In addition, FWC held its 5th consumer and trade wine tasting in San Diego in 2013 on March 10 & 11 at Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event was again well received and will return on March 9, 2014 along with the return of the tasting in Pasadena on March 11.
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