Here’s Rich’s take on the Festival Wine Reception.
Festival Wine Reception — Golden Vine Winery Lower Patio
Saturday, May 2, 2009 — 7:30-9:00 p.m.
• Maso Canali 2007 Pinot Grigio Italy
• Martin Codax 2006 Albarino Spain
• Da Vinci 2004 Chianti Classico
• Alamos 2008 Chardonnay Argentina
• Gascon 2007 Malbec Argentina
• McWilliams 2006 Shiraz Australia
• MacMurray 2007 Pinot Gris Sonoma Coast
• MacMurray 2007 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
• Louis Martini 2006 Chardonnay Napa
• Louis Martini 2006 Cabernet Sonoma
• Bridlewood 2007 Chardonnay Monterey
• Bridlewood 2004 Reserve Syrah
• Kobe Beef Sliders
• Skewers of Kalamata Olives, Mozzarella Cheese, and Cherry Tomatoes
• Two Cheeses: A French Brie and an Italian Fontina
• Vegetarian Pizzettas
• Something else not that memorable
We arrived a bit early for the reception and as we were sitting on the benches outside the venue, we realized it was a little chilly. So I ran back to our room in the Grand Californian and got our Disneyland sweatshirts, returning in 10 minutes, and in plenty of time for the start of the reception.
They let us into the reception area exactly at 7:30 p.m. The lower patio section of the Golden Vine Winery was nicely arranged with three wine tasting stations, five food stations, several tables (no chairs, meant for standing) draped in red cloths, and some built-in bench seating around the perimeter with outdoor heaters.
The start of the reception was a bit odd. As we entered, there was no real direction on how to proceed from the attended CMs. Finally, when they noticed we all looked bit confused, the CMs told us we should just walk up to any of the food and wine stations and order what we wanted. So we did.
While waiting in line, we met Nancy, a local from Westminster (Kathy’s hometown) who had come in just for the reception. We hung out with her, tasted the various food and wines, and enjoyed the atmosphere.
The wine selection was very good, except we had already had the two MacMurray Ranch wines the night before at the Winemakers Dinner. This wasn’t too bad, since we enjoyed these wines last night, and it didn’t stop us from having more tonight.
The atmosphere of the lower patio area was wonderful. At first, Kathy suggested that the only thing missing was a cozy fire pit to huddle around, but once we discovered the bench seating with the outdoor heaters, we were pretty comfortable.
Kathy Kennedy, the Orange County marketing representative for Gallo Wines was there, and she spoke to the gathering about the wines (they are all from wineries owned by Gallo Wines). We had met Kathy the night before at the Winemakers Dinner. She recognized us and greeted us warmly. The four of us (Rich, Kathy, Nancy, and Kathy Kennedy) actually were the last ones there as the event closed.
Some of the hors d’oeuvres were tasty, especially the Kobe beef sliders and the skewers. The others were okay, but nothing special.
The CMs that let us into the reception should have been given everyone clear directions from the beginning on how the reception was set up so we didn’t spend the first five wandering around aimlessly.
As I mentioned earlier, some the hors d’oeuvres were tasty, but the others were so-so, and there was one that was so bland, we don’t even remember what it was. For a reception of the caliber, there should have been some better food.
Also, there was no one there, besides Kathy Kennedy, who knew anything about these wines, and for that matter, wine in general. The CMs serving the wine were clueless as to what they were serving. It would have been nice to at least have some Disney sommeliers around to answer questions about the different wines and to discuss the pairing of the food and wine.
Although the atmosphere was lovely overall, there were not enough tables for the large crowd that attended. It turned out fine for us since we found a comfortable bench area to relax on.
Overall, I would rate the night Good. The atmosphere, wine, and socializing was enjoyable. The food, organization, and lack of wine experts were disappointing. While it was fun, it would be a toss-up to see if we would do this again.
PS – Looking back on this event a few years later, we realize how very special it was and we’re hoping that Disneyland brings back the Food & Wine Festival and this event, specifically, to DCA.