New York Wine Expo Part II: Maybe It Could Be That Bad

wine-expo1By the time we arrived at the registration booths the place was a bit abandoned. The day was coming to and end as was the event. This was Sunday and everyone looked like they were about done. This was good for me because there were no lines and not a lot of crowds….outside the event at least.

I have been in the wine industry for almost seven years now and every time there is an event I am told to bring whomever I like. I am an adult (although I may not dress like one) and I know not to take advantage of such invitations knowing that this privilege is reserved for people that are intimately involved in the industry or, say an individual seeking to further their career in wine that I bring to show them the ropes. I am a professional and would never abuse such an offer.

This was the New York Wine Expo. This was not an event giving nods to the craft of winemaking. This was a mass marketing event with very minute indications of craft (which I will definitely get into).

The reason I am saying this is that I was with my wife. She has been with me through the thick and thin of being a lowly waiter to manager to wine director to accruing serious debt owning two businesses and realizing my dreams as a wine guy. She is my solid rock in the middle of the wine darkened sea (thanks for that one Homer). Knowing this was not going to be too intense of an event I thought I would invite her to come with me to see her hubby in action. She has heard all the reports as I return from each event. Why not see it first hand? Also this was on a Sunday when she didn’t have to work and it was overcast so why not?

The weird boss lady at the desk told me why not.

As we went through the following ordeal at the registration booth I peered into the scene below and cringed at the energy flowing from the crowd.

Here is how it went down.

At registration we were told to fill out a form and bring it to an agent who would print out a badge and blah blah blah, the regular huge convention ritual. I began to fill out the form and realized I had left my I.D. at home. What a dumb ass, I thought to myself. This place is already in a weird mood wait till I tell them this. Sure enough, when I went up to them and explained my sitch the nice lady at the computer called over her superior to figure it all out. It was as if I was trying to get a knife passed airport security. The boss lady’s face wrinkled into a wary and worried scowl as the nice agent lady explained what was up. It was as if I had just grabbed a handful of steamy turds and put them in her hand.

Immediately I was mentally leaving this place. I thought, Know what? This place feels like bad mojo and if boss lady is not going to accept the fact that I am a business owner then I will happily turn to my wife and say: Lunch?

I pulled out my business card with my name on it, my corporate Amex card with my name on it as well as my personal bank card…with my name on it and handed them to her saying that this was not a big deal and if after looking at all my cards you do not believe that I am who I say I am I will just scoot on outta here. It was my bad in the first place for leaving my I.D. on the dresser after all and part of me was feeling a bit weird about the situation.

Boss lady just sat there looking at me then the cards and back to me for a minute or two. She somehow came to the conclusion that alas I am whom I say I am and told the nice agent lady to let me through.

It is not over yet.

When I said it would be two of us my wife included alarms must have went off in boss lady’s ears. She ran back over and asked if my wife was a part owner of either of my businesses. I said no, unless you count the fact that everything I do and all the income that I make is both mine and my wife’s…my wife…she is my wife. Not some employee I am trying to sneak in. The scowl returned and the tension built as boss lady explained that they only allow actual business owners in and do not allow friends or family to maintain the integrity of the event. The integrity of the event?! The integrity of the event?!  Are you kidding me?

So I says to boss lady that is fine. I have no ID and you barely believe I am whom I say I am even with my name on everything I have in my pocket and are worried that I will soil the integrity of the NYWE by dragging my no business-having, free-loading wife into such a “prestigious” event. I was actually a little glad to get turned away. This was not shaping up to be a good visit.

I said thanks anyway, you have just turned away an owner of two businesses – small businesses but businesses nonetheless – in Manhattan a potential buyer, the whole reason the event even exists. And off we went to find some food. This was ridiculous.

And then, boss lady: Ok, Ok, You can go in. We turned to look at her in mild astonishment and then looked at each other: Lunch or this weird world? My wife said why not? We came all the way over to the west side and she is letting us in. Let’s check it out.

The punch line to this horrible joke will be down among the crowds, I said to myself as we turned and headed back to the boss lady who had the nice lady agent proceed with the ritual.

Next week: the conclusion of the saga…


6 responses to this post.

  1. People are such morons… I would have walked away.


    • Posted by evwgnyc on March 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

      And I should have. It was that constant unrelenting morbid curiosity that kept my pace. It was bad once we got in but I just had to know.



  2. Yech
    This situation exemplifies the spirit
    of the New York Wine Expo.
    I say NEVER AGAIN!
    What bums!


    • Posted by evwgnyc on March 15, 2009 at 6:22 pm

      Yeah there were pretty ugly vibes up in that piece. There was one saving grace and that was BOE which I will be talking about in my next post; the conclusion of the NYWE saga. It’s just fun doing three-part things.Thanks for reading! We are the ones helping people appreciate the good stuff Sistah-K!



  3. Posted by moolay on March 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    We do web work for the Pittsburgh wine festival and I’ve gone a few times with complimentary tickets. It has the registration desk, name tags, and such—but there wasn’t much attitude. We’re still talking the big named, overpriced, mass-produced plonk of the California wine industry, but if anything the point is to get people drunk so they’ll buy and carry these wines.

    Gotta love the massive convention center vibe though. Nothing says “prestige” to me like a bunch of overweight middle-aged men with paisley ties, holding tiny complimentary glasses and eating cheese cubes with toothpicks.

    I’m not sure I get why they didn’t want your wife in there. Is it supposed to be some good ole’ boys’ club or something? It’s like they weren’t trying to promote the wine. Looking forward to part III—


    • Posted by evwgnyc on March 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm

      Yeah man the vibes were all wrong in this place. I know it was the end of the day and all but damn! Won’t be attending again I can tell you that. Thanks for reading!



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