Monday, October 24, 2011

Party Tips from the Jordan Halloween Bash

Jordan Winery Bash

Photo credit: Damon Mattson

Jordan Winery has a philosophy of hospitality that shines in everything they do. Their wines are elegant and balanced and are amazingly food friendly. You have likely seen their chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon on restaurant menus since both are very popular with sommeliers.

At the winery are two secret weapons to creating incredible experiences, Todd and Nitsa Knoll. Todd was a chef at the Ritz-Carlton before coming to the winery where each season he creates new recipes that go up on the winery website. I got a chance to spend some time with him in his kitchen and see the way he literally sketches out his ideas before cooking. He sources the finest ingredients and can tell you things such as why the white asparagus in the US isn't as good as the white asparagus in France (because it's imported from Latin America). His wife Nitsa was also a cook at the Ritz Carlton and has a real knack for hosting events and making guests feel welcome.

The halloween parties at Jordan are legendary and I was lucky enough to attend this year. You don't have to have professionals on staff to throw a great party (though it certainly helps!). Here is what I learned are some of the keys to success:

Jordan Winery Halloween Bash

Photo credit: Damon Mattson

1. Theme. A theme creates excitement. In this case the theme was True Grit and the invitation which was inside a cigar box containing a bandana, movie DVD and horseshoe created such enthusiasm that hardly a soul didn't dress up in costume. The theme was evident in the decorations, the music and even the cocktails.

Jordan Winery Halloween Bash

Photo credit: Damon Mattson
2. Entertainment. The atmosphere of the party was set by the entertainers greeting the guests and the live music inside. Entertainment gets everyone in the party mood right away.

Jordan Winery Halloween Bash

Photo credit: Damon Mattson
3. Variety. There were quite a number of cheeses, there was an oyster bar, there were passed bites with ahi, ribs, beef and even alligator. There was wine and there were cocktails. Later in the evening there were sodas, whisky and beer. There was literally something for everybody when it came to food and drink.

Jordan Winery Halloween Bash

Photo credit: Damon Mattson

4. Activities. The party had a "shooting gallery" a casino and a lounge for dancing. If that wasn't enough you could head outside to mingle with guests and enjoy the starry night.

5. Details. Because the winery is in Healdsburg there were going to be plenty of people coming from out of town. In addition to booking blocks of rooms, the winery also arranged for shuttles to take guests to and from the hotels so parking (not to mention drinking and driving) would not be a problem.

What are your tips for throwing a great party? Share them in the comments.