Hundreds enjoyed some daylight drinking — for a good cause — on Saturday afternoon at Proctors.
The Capital Region Wine Festival, now in its fifth year, is already a popular event, according to Leesa Perazzo, Proctors special events manager, but this year the weather helped out.
“People love to come and try wines,” she said. “What else can you do on a snowy Saturday afternoon?”
More than 500 people apparently agreed, showing up for three hours of wine tasting.
The $55 ticket to the event enabled people to sample wines from more than 100 wineries and food from local restaurants including Katie O’Byrnes, Cornell’s and the Water’s Edge Lighthouse.
Proctors, the beneficiary of the event, was filled with sample tables, where knowledgeable distributors were ready to answer any questions and tout their products. Adjacent to the crowded sample tables were tables where people could linger, chatting long after the small serving of wine had been consumed.
Some people grilled the wine representatives, while others simply stated their preference for red or white.
“There are people that come with a group of friends and just want to taste wines,” Perazzo said. “And there are connoisseurs who are looking for new wines and what the year’s vintage has brought, basically having more sophisticated conversations”
For designated drivers, who paid $25 to get in, the event still offered food samples, including bread dipped in a wide variety of extra virgin olive oils from Saratoga Olive Oil.
“What grows together, goes together,” said Saratoga Olive Oil Manager Hayley Miller, explaining the natural fit of olive oil at a wine tasting. She noted that most of their oils come from wine-producing areas, as these climates are typically well suited to both.
And just like wine, extra virgin olive oils demanded some explaining to customers, some of whom were surprised by the varieties on display.
“They can be overwhelmed,” Miller said, describing her role as a guide through the selection process.
In the final hour, a select 100 patrons who purchased $100 tickets had access to more expensive wines and hors d’oeuvres. Perazzo characterized this access as an “upgrade.”
After the wine tastings ended at 4 p.m., a live auction was scheduled on the Main Stage. This event was a wine lover’s delight, with the highlight being three liter bottles of wine up for bid, but there was also custom jewelry, a box seat at the Saratoga Race Course and tours of New York wineries.
The snow did lead to the cancellation of a grand opening dinner on Friday, but no one was shedding any tears into their commemorative wine glasses on Saturday.