When Joan Schick brought 30 financial employees to The Grape Escape winery in Dayton, N.J., for aevent in November, they got a lot more than just a taste of the vino; they got to help package it.
“When we arrived at the facility, the master winemaker took us through the basic process of fermenting the grapes and barreling the wine,” says Schick, senior project accountant at Turner Construction, Somerset, N.J., who organized the experience for her group. “We learned about the different kinds of wine and the grapes they are made from. Then we had a gourmet catered lunch, and we actually got to participate in bottling the wine.”
The activity is popular with corporate groups, says Tom Nye, owner and “chief tannin officer” at The Grape Escape. “It starts with learning about the wines, and then groups can either crush grapes or bottle a barrel of wine.”
Schick's group worked in teams to sterilize the bottles, load them in a machine to be filled, and then cork them. They even fitted the bottles with custom labels that Schick brought in for the event. “The label said, ‘Financial Teambuilding Event,’ and we put the company logo and the date on it.”
But better than getting a personalized bottle of wine, says Schick, was watching the group work together. “Our financial department is really two separate groups — accounting and our cost group. This event got them working together and taking turns on the assembly line. Everyone was laughing and having fun. It was very interactive.”
The Grape Escape can host groups of five to 50 people. www.thegrapeescape.net