"A single glass of Champagne imports a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced; the imagination is stirred; the wits become more nimble." Winston Churchill
While I pondered these things, we approached the Franciacorta building. I was eager to try Franciacorta as it is advertised as Italy's champagne. I wondered if it was just good advertising or the real thing. As we approached the tasting area, however, we saw the line snaking around corners and down the stairs. Here, they tried to control the crowd by taking only a certain number of people at a time for the tastings, but that just seemed to create a longer queue. Knowing that we had limited time and there were other wines on our list, we decided to skip the Franciacorta tasting and move on to another region. Our hotel was in the Franciacorta area, and and I decided I would do some leisurely tasting back in the tranquility of Sirmione.
1. It is not a place to actually relax, ask questions, and gather information about each wine you taste. The winery personnel just don't have the time to talk with you unless you are a serious buyer who has made an appointment.
2. Patience is critical, especially if you want to taste the well known wines. For the wines you and everyone else want to taste, there will be a long wait - just like the line for space mountain. Just getting to and from the venue are extremely time consuming. Our experience of 2 1/2 hours to get there from Sirmione taking a train and taxi (an experience which should have taken no more than 40 minutes) has been surpassed by our friends' stories about trying to find parking or trying to exit the parking garage. Cristina and Massimiliano left late on Monday night after working at the Colonnara booth, and they ended up sitting in gridlock on the 5th floor of the parking structure for over two hours.
3. You'll know how the rats feel trapped in the maze after a few hours here. If you have any bit of claustrophobia, this is not the place for you.
4. It is best to have a plan of what wineries you want to visit and to contact them in advance to make sure you will be able to see them. Some wineries were doing tasting by appointment only and others were impossible to approach.
5. It seems to be more party than business venue. Although the ticket buying process screens participants about their connection to the wine industry and many folks are actually there to find wineries and arrange purchases, I was totally surprised by the number of people who seemed to be hanging out and drinking. Our train ride back to Sirmione was filled with the inebriated party goers, still partying. So, if it's a party you are looking for, this could be the place. There is even musical entertainment.
Fair well Vinitaly. Will I return next year? This is a question I continue to ponder.