After winning two tickets to an event at a small vineyard about 80 miles from home, my girlfriend and I decided to pack our overnight bags and make it a girls’ weekend. The vineyard promised music, vendors, food and a nice wine and beer selection. From what we saw online, the grounds were beautiful. We hit the road like two teens on their first trip without parents.
With our newfound weekend freedom, we were able to quickly assess the situation and make the most of our time. As a result, we attended two events in two different states on our girls’ adventure.
The events were dramatically different. Our first stop—the place to which we won tickets—was a lesson in what vineyards should NOT do when hosting ticketed events to which people bring money and might want to buy things.
We were greeted with an explanation of the no-reentry policy. The ticket takers sternly encouraged us to hike back out to our car in the field across the street to get anything else we might need. We were not impressed with our first impression. But we were optimistic. However, the no-reentry policy made our what-not-to-do list.
We found a nice spot to set up our lawn chairs then headed to the beverage tents. We were unfamiliar with the vineyard’s selection, so we inquired about a wine tasting. We were told wine tastings were not allowed during the event, so as not to compete with the wine tasting room. The wine tasting room, incidentally, was not open.
No wine tastings made our what-not-to-do list. We were perplexed, but we persevered. We asked for recommendations on their driest red and white wines. My friend likes white, especially on a hot summer day. I prefer a very dry red, regardless of the weather.
The driest wine they offered was a sweet merlot. There are very few merlots I will drink because it is a sweeter wine. However, I gave the folks the benefit of the doubt and tried a sample—which was allowed, as long as it wasn’t a tasting. Unfortunately, it was sweet and not so delicious.
Still sailing on the adrenaline of escaping for the weekend with my friend, I simply changed my frame of mind and decided I would go for the beer instead. We made our way to the beer tent. There, we found a beer tasting. Each event guest was allowed up to four small tastes.
There were eight options. Most were big company domestics. I selected a new brew fashioned after a pre-prohibition recipe as well as the Italian import. The new brew was nice, so that was to be my event beverage. But, the gentleman behind the beer tasting tent explained that the beer was not for sale. He did give me a free keychain.
Having a tasting and then not allowing the purchase of tasted beverages was the next entry on our what-not-to-do list.
We decided to walk around, take some photos and visit the rest room. The line of port-a-potties was not at all appetizing, but the shelter offered indoor plumbing, so we ventured inside. While they did have toilets and sinks, a trash can was not part of the powder room package. On top of the sink stood a pile of used paper towels.
A waste receptacle-free women’s restroom made our what-not-to-do list, as well.
My friend began searching for local accommodations and I assessed the weather. A big storm was headed our way and our umbrellas were in the car. Since no reentry was allowed, we decided to cut our losses. Twenty minutes into our stay, we couldn’t justify wasting girls’ weekend at the event.
We gathered our chairs and hiked to the car. We looked up how far we were from another vineyard—one we’d always wanted to visit together. As girls’ weekend luck would have it, the vineyard, while in another state, was closer than home. We pulled out of the parking field and navigated toward vineyard number two.
Three minutes after we pulled out, the bottom fell out. We were giddy at our narrow escape from the downpour as well as the new twist to our adventure.
When we arrived at our destination, we were greeted by a very good looking young man with steel blue eyes who directed us to the parking area. He also explained they had a tractor—like a hay ride—set up to transport folks from parking to the vineyard. Our first impression was excellent.
This vineyard was also hosting a summer event. They had waste receptacles in the indoor bathrooms—there wasn’t a port-a-potty in sight. We bought tickets for the wine tasting, which included homemade chocolate chunks for pairings as well as a winery tour. We could even purchase wines we liked — at a discount.
To wrap up the day, we found an amazing bed and breakfast in a little mountain town near the vineyard. We couldn’t have had a better time had we planned it, despite our first stop.
Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of “Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville.” She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org