Saturday, February 10, 2007

Spinazzola, Marketing & Divas Uncorked

I attended the 22nd Annual Spinazzola Wine & Food festival on Friday night in Boston. The Spinazzola Foundation mission is to "feed hungry bodies and minds" through grants to hunger relief agencies and programs for the homeless. Another mission is to educate the next generation of chefs through a program called C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs.) Both are truly worthy of major fundraising events, but this annual event is superb in its execution with dozens of Boston's best restaurants providing small tastes and dozens of wineries and distributors pouring fabulous wines. The MIT stage band provided great tunes to eat by. The disco inferno dance floor had me cracking up - I love to watch people in tuxedos dance.

American Express was the big name sponsor of the event and it is a perfect match. AMEX wants you to dine out (using their card of course) and they want you to dine at swank places. They came up with a great promotion for Spinazzola - "American Express Presents - Dine at Six Gala Restaurants" between now and the end of June using your AMEX card (spend $500 in total) and they will give you a ticket to next year's Spinazzola gala (that's a $250 ticket.) AMEX has successfully and seamlessly linked themselves with the best restaurants in town and with a terrific organization. Nice.


The winners in the promotional/marketing material competition that I was secretly holding are:

Hogue Cellars a company previously unknown to me, who produced a jazz CD compilation titled "Washington Sounds." The CD package talks about the region of Washington where the wine is produced and features a tremendous group of Washington State artists such as Billet-Deux, Neil Andersson who is also a member of Pearl Django, Supersones, Hot Club Sandwich and Zazou. The CD is a swingy jazzy blast of cool that I will totally play at my next dinner party (and people will ask "What is that CD, and I will tell them where I got it.) Congrats to Hogue for joining my passions in one promo. Smart! The wine was lovely too!

Gallo Family Vineyards takes the silver medal. Yes, that "We will sell no wine before it's time" Gallo (though the GFV brand is the upscale product line.) On the table beside the slickly produced (if slightly confusing) brochure about their Healdsburg tasting facility and wine club were basil seeds and thyme seeds in packets that look like Gallo brand wine labels with the phrase "Never Stop Growing" across them. As a promo - it totally worked for me.

Stonyfield Farm gets an honorable mention for an organic basil seed kit in miniature clay pots ("made from plastic scrap generated in the formation of our multipack cups" according to the label) coupon on the back, naturally. Still, if you found it in the gift bag, you are going to pass it on to a kid or other organic type and Stonyfield gets their name passed around in a sweet way.

Hey! Divas!

Divas Uncorked presented their Mendocino Chardonnay and were the nicest people I spoke to. You can meet all the Divas HERE. You can see my impromptu interview with Carole Alkins and Gert Cowan at YouTube. The Divas are hosting their 4th Annual "Wine, Women & Grape Expectations" conference March 23rd & 24th at the new Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. The conference looks to be fabulous - kicking off with a vintner's dinner and workshops on regional wines, food pairings and consumer tips. The Divas were also kind enough to donate an autographed bottle of wine for the auction (which went for nearly $400!) The ladies presented a lovely Chardonnay. I'm totally starting a Divas category.

My snaps of the event are HERE.

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