Thursday, October 14, 2010


Pasadena Wine Festival

The Pasadena Wine Festival was held Saturday October 9, 2010 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia.  I'm sure festival planners were hoping for weather more like autumn than summer, but it was summer they got.  Temperatures in the mid 90s and only a spot of shade to be found here and there - unusual, I think, for a venue with "arbor" in its name - caused afternoon wine lovers to bake in the hot sun.

Many long tables were provided where people were expected to rest their weary feet, but they were in the middle of the treeless plain.  Anyone found sitting there during the afternoon must have simply passed out there.

Even in the heat, people seemed to be enjoying themselves.  There were a few issues that I felt could be improved on for next year's event.  Here they are:

More wineries - The huge expanse of the grounds seemed to swallow up the dozen or so booths that were arranged in an open rectangle.  With only a few wines poured at each table, there just didn't seem to be that much offered.  France was represented by 4 wines, one of them Hob Nob.

Shade - If you can't find trees at an arboretum, can you at least bring in some umbrellas?  Nighttime visitors didn't have this concern.  To be fair, most people seemed to be having a nice - if hot - day in the sun.

Cost - The base admission price of $28 seemed to afford only entry to the grounds.  After that, it was pay-per-taste or upgrade to a VIP ticket.

Parking - $13 to park at Santa Anita seems pretty high, and that's what you had to pay if you got there after the Arboretum parking was filled, which didn't take long.

Volunteers - Their work was appreciated, but forget about finding out anything about the wines that were poured.  Winery reps - or at least volunteers who knew something about the wines - would have been a much better choice.

Bottles in the sun.Hot booths - The workers seemed to able to find shade as they poured, but the bottles of wine were sitting in the direct afternoon sun for hours before I saw some attempt at shading them.

Organization - Maybe it was just a slow start, but everyone seemed to be scrambling to get things done upon opening.  An hour into the event, I finally found someone who knew where to pick up the free stemware.

Food Trucks - A lot of the food trucks everyone loves were there, but at least one was charging more than the prices posted on their own sign.  After a customer complained, the sign was quickly taken down, but the customer was charged the higher price anyway.

Waste Buckets - Sure, with people paying for every sip, there probably wasn't much call for spit buckets.  But those who upgraded to VIP, and people who wanted to do all the tasting and still be able to drive home, were left without a nice way to dispose of the taste.

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