Wine, Meet Nightlife: SF Wine Week (Nov. 10th-15th)

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sfwineweek.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

In a city that's practically synonymous with fine food and wine, it seems only fitting that San Francisco should play host to a highly anticipated series of November wine events known collectively as SF Wine Week. And with a bevy of chic nightlife venues lined up and a who's-who of winery and industry sponsors clamoring to get behind it, the unprecedented week-long celebration of wine in the city seems primed to catapult San Francisco to still greater heights of vinous renown.
Taking Wine Out of Wine Country
Billed as a vehicle that "brings wine tasting out of wine country and into the hip, urban landscape of downtown San Francisco," SF Wine Week will unfold over the course of six evening events at popular venues throughout the city, culminating in a lavish red-themed gala Saturday night (for a complete schedule of events, visit the SF Wine Week site ). Notable mid-week events include Wednesday's Sommelier Party, which will be hosted by SoMa-based wine wunderkind Mark Bright at the retro-hip Paradise Lounge, and Thursday's Vinter's Party, which will take place at the luxe downtown Mercedes Benz showroom.

Festival co-founder Ruben Morancy - a longtime premium wine rep in the city - says his rationale for founding SF Wine Week lies largely in his desire to assist wineries in making connections with urban tastemakers who may not make it to wine country often, but who would like to connect with new brands all the same. "[Wine Week] is a celebration of wine culture in San Francisco, but it's also a sales and marketing event - another way for participating wineries to connect with local wine buyers and consumers, and ultimately grow their bottom line."

It's About the People, As Much As the Wine
Morancey's festival co-founder, Elie Ernest - a seasoned San Francisco nightlife impresario who has also spent time in premium wine sales - is quick to reiterate the importance of the people part of the Wine Week equation: "As much as the vintners, it's about celebrating the people who love wine, especially the young people, who are the largest group of drinkers today."

Indeed, the Millennial Generation - comprised of drinkers aged 21-30 - is buying more wine, more often and at higher price points than any previous generation's twentysomethings. But Millennials, as they're called, have proved an elusive target for wine marketers since they're less receptive to traditional wine marketing tactics. Instead, they tend to seek out brands through social events, shared experiences and pop culture connections that put wine into familiar contexts, effectively eliminating the stuffy connotations so long associated with the beverage.

All the Right Moves
"We want to put wine on the bandwagon of popular culture," Ernest enthuses, instinctively understanding the need to create wine tasting experiences that leverage the familiarity of pop culture references - such as hip nightlife activities - among this audience. If all goes well with SF Wine Week - with its nightlife-fueled roster of events and experiences - he and Morancey will have done just that: re-imagined the Millennial wine tasting experience to encapsulate the energy and optimism of modern life in the city, with a side of wine country thrown in for good measure.

Sounds like a winning combination to us.

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