Reporting on the Boston Wine Festival

The Boston Harbour Hotel (BHH) recently completed its 30th
anniversary of its annual wine festival – aptly named the Boston
Wine Festival – for which I was lucky enough to be invited and
report on the event. Founded by Chef Daniel Bruce, the property’s
executive chef, pictured, the event runs through the first quarter
of each year. With 35 separate and unique dinners this year, Chef
Bruce figures that there have been well over a thousand wine
dinners since inception, as several years had many more functions.
Chef Bruce notes, “The wine series was the genesis behind our
wine-driven restaurant, Meritage. If you’re a wine lover, or are
in the wine business, the Boston Wine Festival has carved a
significant market niche. I am very proud of this fact and that it
carries positive, year-round business impact.” Many of you have
probably held one or two wine dinners at your hotel. Thus, you can
readily imagine what it would be like to arrange two, three or even
four a week throughout a three-month period. BHH Wine
Dinner Facts and Figures
While the target for a typical
wine dinner is 80 patrons, most exceed this number as demand is
strong. Prices range from $135 to $395 per person depending upon
the host winery, with the exception of a lower cost charitable
event which is not tied to a specific vendor. The events are
profitable and they also drive some decent rooms business during a
typically low season. We attended the Best of Willamette,
highlighting prestigious vintages from Oregon and featuring bottles
from Soter, Elk Cove and Drouhin. The magnificent menu consisted of
four courses plus dessert with my favorite being the braised
maple-smoked beef tongue served with the Roserock Zephirine 2016
(pinot noir) from Domaine Drouhin. So, why after 30 years has this
program endured and prospered?

  1. Financial viability. No matter how good any
    idea, if it does not have financial legs, it is a non-starter. The
    Boston Wine Festival is good for business, driving F&B and
    rooms revenue. As a secondary benefit, it enhances the
    restaurant’s ability to improve its overall wine selection
    through better relationships with the vending community, often
    leading to either better prices or unique availabilities.
  2. A champion in the executive chef. It is
    doubtful that a program of this intensity would continue without a
    hard-working driver. Chef Bruce’s passion and creativity
    doubtlessly have kept this festival both fresh and
    flourishing.
  3. Something to talk about when not much is going
    on.
    When the Celtics and Bruins are not in town, the first
    quarter is pretty quiet in Boston. The Boston Wine Festival is a
    welcome respite from dreary days and snow.
  4. Quality image consistency. Events of this
    nature showcase the property and the restaurant. In these days of
    social media and public relations, with limited traditional
    advertising, events make great sense.

I would not recommend that you embark your own decades-long journey
of wine makers’ dinners. At least, if you are sane and value
having a life outside of events management. But, adding wine
dinners at a consistent frequency into your plan is worthy of
consideration. If you need to experience the best and get a little
bit of inspiration, may I suggest a trip to Boston any first
quarter.
Source: FS – All-Hotels-Blogs
Reporting on the Boston Wine Festival