Park City Wine Club celebrates a decade of tastings, education and giving back
10th anniversary party scheduled for Aug. 16
Park City Wine Club 10th Anniversary Party
- Ages: 21 and older
- When: 5-8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 16
- Where: Rotary Park
- Cost: $50
- Registration and website: parkcitywineclub.com
The Park City Wine Club scores a 10 this year.
The group, founded by Certified Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator Pamela Wood, is celebrating a decade of tastings, education, and domestic and international tours.
To commemorate the milestone, the Park City Wine Club will host a party from 5-8 p.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Rotary Park.
The event, which is for ages 21 and older, will include a tasting of various wines and pairings with Tandem Chocolates, gourmet popcorn, a catered barbecue, adult fruit salad — marinated in a simple wine syrup — and other select wine surprises from people in the industry, said Wood, a certified specialist of wine of the Society of Wine Educators.
“It’s a big gathering and mixer to thank everyone for supporting us these past 10 years,” she said. “All attendees must be 21 and older, and they can drop in at any time.”
Registration is $50 at parkcitywineclub.com, and Wood plans to give proceeds to Nuzzles & Co., the local, no-kill animal rescue nonprofit.
“Nuzzles is where we have given proceeds from our new memberships for the past 10 years as well,” she said.
The anniversary came quickly, according to Wood, who is also a professor at the Fox School of Wine.
“It’s like where did the time go?” she said. “We also lost 2020 and 2021 to the pandemic, and it was in May that I realized I needed to do something.”
Wood conceived the Park City Wine Club as a way to share her passion for the vino.
“I reflect on what my husband thought was going to be a hobby that has turned into my business,” she said with a laugh. “It was about bringing wine to the community and being able to educate, taste and have wine makers come in.”
Wood always believed the club would be more than just a hobby to her.
“I’m passionate about wines, and I wanted it to become something that would gather members of the community for tastings, and give something back to the nonprofits through our events,” she said.
Still, the first year in 2012 was challenging for Wood.
“I think it was because I was trying to invent a business plan,” she said. “It’s not like a normal business, because it was about wine in Utah.”
Wood worked with the DABS (Department of Alcohol Beverage Services) and the local restaurants in town to learn what wines she could and couldn’t bring to Utah.
“It was like putting a square peg in a round hole,” she said. “ It was about getting wine into people’s hands so they could learn about and understand what wine is about — the history and what they are tasting. And we found ways to make it work.”
Wood knew Park City Wine Club would be successful after that first year, when she made a small profit after paying to host events and coming close to breaking even.
So, she decided to better herself and qualifications with education.
“I had become a certified sommelier in 2011, before the Park City Wine Club started in 2012,” she said. “Then in 2018, I became a certified wine educator. There are less than 500 of those in the world, and that gave me a big boost of confidence.”
Wood is also the Culinary Wine Institute’s CEO and director of education and the state educator for the employees of Utah Department of Alcohol and Beverage Services.
The second big challenge of the past 10 years for Wood was maneuvering the club through the coronavirus pandemic.
“We did virtual tastings, and they were successful, but they weren’t the same as getting together in person to enjoy and learn about wine,” she said.
Still, Wood carries highlights of memories that show her how much the club has grown.
“We had our first-ever event at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, where Dana Williams, who was the mayor of Park City at the time, and I had flutes of champagne that were tied with a ribbon,” she said. “We cut the ribbon, and that was the beginning of this whole thing.”
Other memories include working with local restaurants by showcasing less-popular menu items by pairing them with wine, working with Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City for the holiday Zoolights events, and giving back to the community’s nonprofits.
“For being a tiny business, we’ve donated more than $20,000 to various local nonprofits — Make-A-Wish Foundation, Nuzzles & Co. National Ability Center and avalanche rescue dogs, and many others,” Wood said. “We have also given our time to help with Peace House and Rotary Club events. It’s rewarding to feel like you’re making a difference, that people are enjoying what you’re doing and that you’re giving something back.”
In the winter of 2017, Wood and the Park City Wine Club raised money for gift cards for families who lost their homes and schools when a wildfire ripped through the Napa Valley, California, wine country.
“Being close to Christmas, I wanted to focus on families with kids,” she said. “We raised a significant amount from our community, $12,000 for these gift cards. And it was so heartwarming to have people here want to help people they don’t know. These families and children had not only lost their homes, but also lost their schools. They don’t have their beds, their blankets.”
Another part of giving back is inspiring others to pursue careers in the wine community, Wood said.
“There is a woman I worked with years ago who now runs a wine business in Florida and has most of the same certifications that I have,” she said. “We do have a wine culture in Utah, but it’s still pretty much untapped. People here enjoy wine. They have questions. So when I get to enlighten someone and be a mentor to help someone start their wine education to become a sommelier or work in the business, that is a humbling compliment.”
“Park City Wine Club has had a couple of sponsors that really support the business end of things, and to have the support for the entire 10 years, I’d like to thank them,” Wood said.
As Wood looks down the road, she knows she still wants to continue what she started in 2012.
“I have a club tour next March that will be going to South America to visit Argentina, Chile and Uruguay for two weeks, and I want to focus on working more with restaurants in Summit and Wasatch counties,” she said. “I knew I opened Pandora’s Box when I took my first wine class to become a sommelier, but I never knew I would be able to fashion this into something I could do personally. Wine is one of the oldest beverages in the world. It predates borders and the Bible. It’s bigger than what’s just in your glass.”
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