It Was About Wine – The Grape Escapade, 2013 : Some Glimpses

This is a post that should have happened sometime in February, and is about 4 months late to highly avoidable reasons, one of which was sheer laziness on my part since work on this post would have meant uploading a lot of photographs, sifting through them to discard undesirables, and then edit the worthy ones I would have been left with. It might also have had something to do with the fact that this post is all about a local Wine Festival (read Wine “Marketing” Festival) and we don’t drink any kind of alcohol!

Live music and entertainment at The Grape Escapade.

I can some of you thinking, “Why does she want write about a Wine Festival if she doesn’t drink wine or know it?” That’s a good question and it is true that I’m not overly knowledgeable about grapes and wine, though I do know more about both for someone who does not drink it. No, I wasn’t paid to write this post, so that’s not why I’m doing this post. This post is nothing more than a desire to share my take on a visit to the Wine Festival and share some of photographs of the same.

Goa is a good place in India to promote wine for various reasons. One is that there is a sizeable Catholic community in Goa for whom wine is a part of their culinary tradition. Then Goa is a very popular tourist destination, so wines sell whether it is the international tourists or the wine-discovering domestic Indian tourists who buy them, or order them at restaurants.

Everything in Goa is a photo-op waiting to happen! At the entrance to The Grape Escapade, 2013.

So naturally, Goa now hosts an annual Wine Festival with a catchy name, “The Grape Escapade”. For some reason the previous editions escaped my attention, but this year I decided to go and take a look around, see what the “Escapade” was all about, and soak up some atmosphere if not the wine.

It is another story that someone from one of the better known wine brands in India invited me to visit their stall despite my telling them that we didn’t drink, and I walked into their stall only to find their staff rather unhelpful and unconcerned despite having been told that I might drop by. The person in-charge of the stall finally turned up, apologised for not being there to meet me, started telling me about their wines only to be become almost speechless when I told him I didn’t drink!

When I asked him about which of their wines could be used for cooking, he told me they didn’t make any wines that could be cooked with!! I must have looked surprised at that statement because then he told me that some of the locally well known Italian restaurants had reported that they were happy cooking with some of the wines.

Wines, waiting to be tasted, at one of the many stalls.

To get on with the Wine Festival, I was a bit disappointed. What I expected was to see was a lot of grapes/ wine related activity that was educational and interactive with visitors to the Festival like more information about the kind of grapes that are turned into wine, which ones are good for which wine, how wines are made, the details about aging wine and the whys and hows of it, some cooking/ dessert making demonstrations with a variety of wines, glassware/ stemware best suited for serving wines, about wine pairings with Indian food, how to best store wines, etc.

While there were people, at individual stalls, talking about things like the different varieties of wines and pairing wine with Indian food, and offering wine for tasting, these were mostly focused at selling/ marketing individual brands rather than educating the public about wines on the whole.

If there's wine, food is usually not far behind. A food stall run by a locally well-known restaurant.

In the manner of most of these “dos”s in Goa, The Grape Escapade did see a lot of visitors and many of them families with elders and children out to enjoy an evening at a local fair/ fête. For others it meant a chance to catch up with friends over food and a wide variety of wines. All the time I was there, which was for a couple of hours, groups of people kept walking in and out with the crowd getting bigger as the evening gave way to a full moon night.

This meant that the atmosphere was perhaps not what one might otherwise expect of a Wine festival but more of a picnic style evening out without the hassles of carrying one’s own food. A live band provided music with a host and hostess on stage, to liven up things with their own brand of humour, a couple of balloon sellers, an African dance troupe, one person dressed up as an eggplant for some strange reason, and lighting up floating paper lanterns were all part of the general entertainment.

Getting together with friends for an evening out.

What I did see was quite a few food stalls run by locally well-known restaurants and caterers selling a lot of food and doing brisk business. I think it would have been nice to see a couple of stalls serving vegetarian food for vegetarian public at the Festival. I also saw some visitors, mostly tourists, walking from one stall to the next, getting a bit tipsy on the free wine tasting samples.

Where the grapes were to be stomped!

There were also a few strategically placed wooden tubs at the venue which were meant to be part of a much publicised “grape stomping” exercise but that event died a premature death. When it was time for the stomp, there was only one wooden tub in evidence and the exercise ended up with 4 or 5 small children climbing into the tub much against their wills, egged on by their eager parents, and then not really knowing what to do!

Frankly, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the organisation on the whole and thought it could have been managed much, much better. I went on the last but one day and I think by then the Festival had kind of run out of steam. To be fair to the organisers, I understand there were a lot of activities and more entertainment including a beauty pageant and some stage shows by dancers from abroad (not really my kind of thing) on the other days of the Wine Festival when I wasn’t there. You can also see a short video taken by someone else who visited The Grape Escapade earlierin the day

There was small chocolate fountain too! I didn't ask but did wonder if they were actually selling the whole chocolate fountain for Rs. 20 like it said on the board!!

I did have an opportunity to walk around and take some photographs and I’ll leave you with those glimpses of The Great Escapade, 2013. Hopefully, the next year will be a good year for grapes and wine, and perhaps a better year at the Wine Festival in Goa.

Some of the foreign tourists enjoying the evening with Indian food and Indian wines.

The entertainment on the stage didn't seem to have too many takers, as the visiting public seemed to prefer the food and drink.

As I mentioned before, there's always a photo-op waiting around the corner. You can see the wooden tubs that were supposed to be "stomped" in.

And the tubs all disappeared mysteriouly, and only this one was left. It was large enough to accomodate some 4 or 5 rather uncomfortable looking young children!

Let there be food and wine! And there was. Plenty of it.

Balloon sellers may not seem the thing at a Wine Festival, but these guys did brisk business keeping quite a few bored and cranky kids (and their thankful parents) happy.

"Mr. Eggplant" as I named him privately. I couldn't figure what purpose his presence served, other than entertainment for a lot of people. Many with cameras, would insist on posing with him to have their pictures taken and after sometime I could see him finding the whole thing painful. I rather felt for him, as the heat from the lights, the sultry weather and his humungous costume getting to him, yet all he could do was grin and bear it.