Sawgrass CC’s multi-pronged wine program is focused on ”doing” inventive things that keep members happy and engaged throughout the year.
The success of the wine program at Sawgrass Country Club (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) lies in what Sommelier and Beverage Director Bo Cure calls “the doing.”
“It’s all about exposing members to world-class winemakers in a variety of ways throughout the year,” says Cure, who frequently travels with members to wineries all over the world.
Upcoming wine trips include touring Belle Glos (Napa, Calif.) with winemaker Joseph Wagner, Daou Vineyards (Paso Robles, Calif.) in February, and two trips to Italy next summer.
Leading up to a vineyard trip, Cure and his team will deploy a number of tactics to engage and educate members. These include dedicated wine dinners, wine-list features, pours for member-involved charities and even custom-package programs that include up to four bottles that are hand-selected by Cure and personalized, based on the detailed records he keeps on each member’s wine preferences.
“By providing this type of exposure, we encourage engagement and boost sales,” he says. “Members often begin to recognize makers and recommend wines to other members at their table, too.”
Bi-monthly wine dinners typically feature meet-and-greets with winemakers such as Ken Wright and Austin Hope. Each dinner sells out in a matter of minutes, according to Cure, and it’s a win-win for the winemakers, too, as the local club community allows them to make multiple club visits in one trip.
The holiday season provides additional opportunities to boost member engagement, says Cure.
Sawgrass CC’s season kicked off in October with the three-day Ed Seay Men’s Member-Guest Tournament. Cure lined up several wine and spirit sponsors to provide libations to members, at the same time they gained exposure to guests from other prominent clubs.
Earlier this summer, Sawgrass recreated the fictional Catalina Wine Mixer invented in the movie “Step Brothers.” The event included dozens of winemakers, spirits producers, and regional distribution reps pouring samples for members on the grounds while a local rock band provided entertainment. During this event, the club sold $10,000 in wine.
Cure hopes to carry the success of the Wine Mixer over to the club’s inaugural holiday wine fest, which will feature Christmas movies and a band playing favorites such as Adam Sandler’s ‘The Chanukah Song.’ The club will also host one holiday-themed dinner in December before the program takes a break until the end of the month to accommodate private holiday parties.
To kick off 2022, the club will seat over 300 covers, Cure estimates, and the wine and bubbly will flow all night.
Finally, to add some year-round uniqueness to its wine program, Sawgrass worked with winemaker Ken Wright to create a private-label pinot noir (see photo, above) featuring a blend of fruit from across the Willamette Valley. Sawgrass is currently pouring its 2019 vintage, which will also be featured prominently on the club’s Thanksgiving wine list