I don’t know how I missed it, but it wasn’t until Thursday that I learned about the Love the Wine You’re With event at the Downtown Container Park on Saturday (Thanks, Gabrielle, for the heads up!). I instantly purchased a ticket, and as always, looked forward to my first wine event of the season.
I arrived at the Park an hour or so earlier than the scheduled 5:00 pm time. I picked up my wine “glass” (plastic, stemless) and moseyed around until 5.
In 2014, Bin 702 won a Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence,” validating that my initial observations were correct.
Downtown Container Park is a series of buildings that are shipping containers, the type you see on large ocean barges. These containers are reconfigured into shops, bars, restaurants, and even a wedding chapel. There’s a playground for kids and a few of the containers have been placed vertically end to end to act as clocks. If you don’t know ahead of time that the Park is made up of containers, it’s understandable that you may think that all of the businesses happen to be made up of unusual small buildings.
I have written about the Downtown Container Park before, specifically when I reviewed Bin702, the cutest wine bar this side of the Mississippi. In 2014, Bin 702 won a Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence,” validating that my initial observations were correct. I’ve been there many times since, of course, and have enjoyed the foods, wine, and ambiance that the Park provides. This time I stopped at Big Ern’s BBQ, and I had a brisket sandwich and fried okra. The brisket was okay, but not nearly as good as mine. Just sayin’.
The Park isn’t that large; it’s a relatively short walk from the entrance to the stage, which is on the furthest extremity. In front of the raised stage (about 4-1/2/5 feet, give or take) is a “lawn” of artificial turf and has chairs and lounges scattered, easily moved to accommodate groups, couples, or singles. White lights are strung on the small trees, and they light up at twilight.
I spent a little time visiting all three stories and naturally sorted the natives from the tourists. The natives wore faces of relative indifference, and the tourists had selfie sticks. Yes, it was that easy.
I was able to hit the first wine bar about the time that the event officially “opened,” and spent a few moments chatting with Lorenzo who was pouring the Barrymore and Carmel Road wines. I walked over to the bar where a Copain Wines’ Chardonnay, Rosé, and Pinot Noir were served.
The natives wore faces of relative indifference, and the tourists had selfie sticks.
The retro 80s band, Love Shack, provided rollicking entertainment, and while sipping the wine, I spent a little time in front the stage enjoying the music. (Yes, I do know how to rock out!)
That was the last of the wine where I was able to chat with the bartender because people began flooding in. And that’s when it became clear to me that whoever planned the event either didn’t know or ignored the rules of wine events in Las Vegas: more than five stations is probably a good idea.
If you’ve ever attended a wine event in Vegas, be it the Cultural Diversity Foundation Educational Taste of Excellence (that’s a shameless plug – I’ll be pouring at the event), Lee’s Discount Annual Wine Experience events, UNLVino, etc., you know that having many stations with many pourers is absolutely essential. Why? So that mile-long lines can be avoided. I missed stations four and five because of the lines, and station three was quite a wait.
I decided that I’d had enough of trying to taste the wines, because standing in long lines for what are essentially everyday drinkers is just not up my alley. I decided that a walk down Fremont Street and getting lost in the tourist throngs would be a better adventure. And it was! More to follow!
Here’s the upshot: The Container Park was a great location for the wine tasting, but with only five stations, made for a cramped and patience-testing experience for a few hundred folks. I hope that if they decide to repeat it next year, that they have better planning in place.