In 2007, local entrepreneur, lawyer, and self-described food and wine lover, Alex Papajohn, was fed up with travelling back and forth to Washington, D.C. to satisfy his desire to enjoy a major international wine and food event. The drive was a pain, parking was expensive, and the ticket prices were excessive — considering the mediocre quality of the wine and food. He couldn’t understand why Richmond, his hometown, didn’t have its own major international wine event.
So, Alex launched Variant Events, a wine event management company that specializes in producing major state, national, and international wine shows. His first event turned out to be state focused — the Virginia Wine Expo presented by Kroger. His second was national — the National Wine Experience presented by USA TODAY. But Alex still harbored dreams of launching a major international wine event in Richmond.
Finally, an opportunity presented itself. Alex was approached by executives at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, to produce a major wine event amidst the ruins and historic brick buildings at the Historic Tredegar Iron Works along Richmond’s waterfront. The non-profit organization wanted to launch the event to raise money and to coincide with the four-year dual 150th anniversaries of the American Civil War and Emancipation – the Sesquicentennial. (The RIWE will continue on after the Sesquicentennial has concluded.) Once Alex shared his vision for a signature international wine event, which was missing from Richmond’s culinary calendar, executives at Historic Tredegar were thrilled, to say the least.
Thus, the Richmond International Wine Excursion presented by MARTIN'S (RIWE) was born. You may ask: “Why was the name ‘Excursion’ chosen, instead of more traditional names like ‘Festival,’ ‘Expo,’ or ‘Showcase’?” The short answer is that we want to be different — in a good way. The word ”Excursion” conveys a sense of romance, travel, experimentation and adventure. Tasting wine from around the world is like taking a culinary journey. It’s a process of discovery and adventure that is best enjoyed with good company. And that’s what we want this event to be for you and your friends’ — a culinary journey around the world that enlightens, entertains, and surprises.
The inaugural RIWE features our core two-day schedule of events, including several Walk-Around Grand Tastings, a luncheon, and seminars taking place under tents in the Culinary Village at Historic Tredegar. Weather will NOT be an issue. In future years, more events in the Culinary Village and elsewhere around Richmond will be added to the schedule. In fact, plans are already being laid to expand the event to three days in 2012.
Finally, the RIWE, while always offering a selection of wine and food from around the world, will have a different Featured Region each year. The Featured Region will receive special emphasis throughout the duration of the event as evidenced this year in the grand tastings and one of the seminars. The Featured Region is Portugal and Spain.
Please enjoy the RIWE and feel free to let us know what you think.