WASHINGTON - Over a boozy brunch at Belga Café in Capitol Hill, new friends Vanessa French, 38, and Lisa Byrne, 35, bonded over their love of wine and their frustration with its omission from the list of week-long celebrations in D.C.
"We started lamenting about how there's a week on beer, there's a week on bacon, there was a week on bourbon or whiskey -- all sorts of different weeks, but there was no week on wine," French says.
So the two decided to change that. They got to work that afternoon and sketched out their vision for DC Wine Week -- fittingly, on a cocktail napkin.
French, who is the founder and lead strategist at Pivot Point Communications, and Byrne, a social strategist at Pappas group, called on their combined expertise in event planning, social media and communication to make it happen.
In just six weeks, French and Byrne pulled together a logo, a website, a blog and seven events for the first DC Wine Week.
"We initially kicked it off with a tweet. It was like the tweet heard around the wine world," French says.
That was three years ago -- and each year, DC Wine Week gets bigger and better. It even has the mayor's blessing: It receives a signed proclamation each year from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
"It's just been a real labor of love," French says.
This year's DC Wine Week is Oct. 12-19, and French and Byrne have a whole host of events planned, from an evening of yoga and wine -- called Downward Dog and Upward Sips -- to a night of Greek wines with the Greek Embassy, and even an unconventional pairing: wine and bocce.
Past years have attracted roughly 2,500 attendees to the events. French explains the week will be a mix of events highlighting all different varieties of wine, many of them local, and trends in the wine industry -- like the Columbus Day event at The Coupe.
"The Coup is doing something really neat that's kind of on trend right now in wine -- they're doing tapped wine. It's supposed to keep the wine fresher and longer and it's even supposed to taste better," French says.
Despite highlighting wine trends, French says the week will be anything but pretentious.
"We feel like we're the audience. We're not wine experts by any means. We just really love wine a lot … It's pretty magical. It mean, it's lightening in a bottle," French says.
The full list of Wine Week events, and information on tickets, is available on the DC Wine Week website.
"The love of wine is pretty contagious. It's pretty funny how that happens," French says.
Vanessa French and Lisa Byrne introduce DC Wine Week:
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