BrightWines’ owner Dave Kuennen says Bouquets’ garden atmosphere brings out the best from local wine purveyors
What wine goes best with the Sunken Garden?
It’s a question that BrightWines’ owner Dave Kuennen has to consider carefully before Bouquets, Como Friends’ popular wine-tasting event, scheduled on February 22. With one wine-tasting station set amid the Sunken Garden’s current “SUPER BOLD” -themed Winter Flower Show, he’s curating a tasting list of robust wines that won’t be overpowered by the garden’s floral scents of Azaleas, Pansies, Cyclamen and Cineraria.
“Those are the kinds of things we think about as we get ready for Bouquets, because you want to find wines that will pair well not only with the great food tastings arrayed around the Conservatory,” says Kuennen, a long-time Como Friends supporter. “We also want them to complement the gorgeous plants and flowers our guests will get to see.”
Every year, Kuennen coordinates a host of local wine purveyors to bring more than 100 unique vintages to Bouquets’ 12 wine-tasting stations, where they can be sampled by the event’s 450 guests. “Within each of our distributor’s portfolios, we select the wine that we want to offer with an eye towards quality first and foremost, and affordability as a secondary characteristic. For wine lovers, it’s a great opportunity to try new things in a setting that’s really beyond compare.”
Always one of Como Friends’ most spirited nights of community support, Bouquets has expanded in recent years to include craft brews and a much larger array of local restaurants and caterers. But wine-lovers and garden-lovers are still the core audience for the event, and their ticket purchases and silent auction winning bids have seeded many improvements at Como.
“I think there is an interesting link between plant lovers and wine lovers, because there’s that deep connection to the earth,” Kuennen says. “Climate and soil conditions both make such a big impression on how the wine will taste, which is part of the beauty of discovering new wines from around the world. That’s where plant geeks and wine geeks like me definitely dovetail.”
Tickets to Bouquets are nearly sold out. Limited number of tickets are available to the public at $65, and $60 for Como Friends members. Bouquets guests must be 21 years of age.