On April 1st Gainesville had 11 wineries in Downtown Boutiques from 4-8 pm and then music from Original Groove Band on the Downtown Square from 8:30-10:30 pm. (more)
We left before the concert – but apparently it was a huge success. All 500 tickets were sold. Tickets included 2 wine tastings at each winery, a Govino wine glass for tastings, a reusable wine bag that holds 6 bottles of wine, and admission to the concert on the Square. You could opt to do a double tasting if you wanted.
Having been to several wine walks now, let me say what worked, and what didn’t. Gainesville did a good job at having one check-in location, with an easy way to queue. I liked that their “map” was on cardstock, so it held up to being handled by lots of people. I also liked that the wineries used hole punches to mark the card that you’d stopped by – if you visited all 11 wineries you could turn your card in for a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses.
What didn’t work was the fact that the streets for the square were not all shut down. Now, I know one of them is a major east/west artery, but it was a bit scary watching people walk across the middle of streets with traffic. Also, the wineries were really spread out – which in a way worked – because if you visited one of the wineries off the main square there were fewer people in the queue. But it did mean a lot of walking. I do agree with a couple of ladies I overheard – they suggested closing off the streets and having craft vendors along the way to the outlying wineries.
It did mean I visited a lot of stores I’d never been in before. And for the most part the people strolling weren’t too bad.
I didn’t take any notes – but I only visited wineries that I haven’t been to before or my companions had not visited – so not too much to say on the wine. So here’s who I visited:
- Cooley Bay Winery
- Firelight Vineyards – amazing Syrah – waiting for it to be released.
- Bella Mia Family Winery – came home with a Black Spanish and a Tempranillo
- OG Cellars
- Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery – great blend came home
- Blue Ostrich Winery
I skipped: Hidden Hangar, 4R Ranch, Arche and Landon. All great wineries, but we’d all had them before and weren’t planning on staying for the drawing.
A couple of other things that Gainesville did right – tables and chairs where people could sit and eat the food they bought from the local restaurants and a bottle of wine. I also liked that it was a somewhat limited time frame – long enough to visit all the wineries and shop, but not a whole day affair. A couple of improvements I’d suggest – give the shops that are hosting something to designate them – a sign in the window or on the door. Draw out a “wine walk” route on the side walks – with chalk or non-permanent paint and put dashes for walking and a wine glass or the logo in front of the shop. Those not familiar with downtown would find it useful, and it might encourage people from not crossing in the middle of the street.
I did like that there was a police presence – wandering around like everyone else (just not drinking). I didn’t like that I had no clue where to find restrooms, and many of the shops noted that they did not have one available. Also for out of towners – information on where to park would be useful. Although the wine bags did make it easier to shop and not have to walk back to the car.
However, all in all, a great first event and I look forward to attending many more – and visiting some of the wineries that I hadn’t visited before.