The first food festival!
It took a few wine making experiments at home but we managed to launch our wine company on Friday 4 August 2017, we chose a Foodies festival for our launch as this allowed as many people as possible to taste our very first wine! We thought a food and wine festival would be the best option rather than a wine festival as we would then be able to taste the wine with a wider range of people and also they could sample the wine with a variety of foods.
We had previously attended some food and drink festivals although this was our first time attending as an exhibitor, which meant the experience would be a little different. Something we had not appreciated was the set up for the Foodies festival which took significantly longer than expected and was not helped by the torrential rain! As an exhibitor at a food and wine festival though there is a great camaraderie and the barter system is an excellent addition to the experience, with wine being a highly sought-after commodity!
The Foodies festival we picked for our launch was the Edinburgh one, which greeted us with some classic Scottish summer weather all weekend, although we should have known better we hadn’t prepared ourselves properly for the torrential rain!
As we were offering free samples we had a lot of interest, even with the weather (who can turn down free wine). We were surprised by how busy we were and by the end had sold most of the stock we had taken, this was a significant relief as it meant we didn’t have to carry cases of wine away!
We had a great time as exhibitors at the foodie festival and can highly recommend the experience for any food and drink brands.
We also think the customers who sampled our wines enjoyed themselves as well, to quote a couple of Foodie festival patrons ‘the best thing I’ve tasted in the whole festival’ and ‘much better than champagne’.
Testing our sparkling wines
The bottles we launched at the Edinburgh Foodies festival in August 2017 were our first trial batch with our winery partner and the official retail ready bottles from our first full scale production weren’t finished until December 2017. Meaning the Summer of 2018 was the first time we were able to take them to any food and wine festivals.
There was a lot of trial and error in how we looked to set up our stand, what we offered to customers and what food and drink festivals we picked to attend. We did have one thing in our favour though, it was a record hot summer and there was a lot of events happening in 2018. For example at the Pub in the park festival in Tunbridge Wells a giant screen was set up to watch the World cup.
By the end of the summer we were getting the hang of the process of setting up and breaking down for a food and wine festival. We were also getting lots of great feedback and people were recognising the bottles from different food festivals, and commenting about how they liked the design.
By the time Summer 2019 started we were fully prepared for all the food and drink festivals and attended one every weekend from the start of April until the end of September. We estimated that we sampled our wines with more than 15,000 people (based on the number of sample bottles we used). We attended all sorts of food and wine festivals in 2019 all across the UK from Edinburgh to Brighton and Bristol to Cambridge!
Food and drink trade shows
We haven’t limited ourselves to just food and drink festivals for the public having also attended a number of trade focused food and wine events, including the Speciality fine food fair and the London wine fair.
These shows are even more hard work than the food and drink festivals and the cost is considerably larger. The upside is you have the potential to meet a lot of trade buyers from different businesses and possibly getting the foot in the door at a large retailer. This is how we acquired our listings on Farmdrop and in Wholefoods.
These events can be incredibly competitive and also very difficult to try and speak to the correct person at a relevant buyer.
Our experience of food festivals
If we had to pick a favourite Food and drink festival we would have to consider a wide variety of factors for example the shear excitement of launching at the Foodies festival in August 2017 is hard to match but then making record sales at an event is also very satisfying! Ultimately though it comes down to where we had the most fun (without losing too much money).
The best Food and drink festival we attended was probably the Pub in the Park in Bath where we shared our stand with Peatreekers whisky. This added some much needed company as well as reducing the cost for us to attend. The event itself had a wide number of Michelin starred chefs who were more than happy to trade meals for wine and whisky as well as there being a great selection of music on offer.
As for picking our least favourite food and drink festival this was really heavily impacted by the weather which always impacted the attendance at an event and there were one or two events where we made substantial losses as there just weren’t enough people in attendance. We won’t name these food and wine festivals as there are a variety of factors which are beyond their control.
As you can imagine all these festivals and events take up a lot of our time. We are now looking at taking a step back from them to focus on getting the wines more exposure in other areas, specifically online and in bars. Although we are hoping to have some vendors at events take on our wines as part of their offering, if you are interested in using them for an event then please get in touch.
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