Monday, October 8, 2007

The SWILL Calender

The SWILLparty founders Anne Conroy-Baiter and Eva Potter have been very busy creating wine tasting products, assisting in organizing of localized wine tasting clubs, and moderating wine seminars. If that isn't enough to keep the pair busy, they have recently created a calender to support women diagnosed with breast cancer. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am very fortunate to get a chance to speak with these two inspirational women.

Consumer's Corner: Where did the name SWILL [Several Wine Imbibers Liking Libations] originate?

Anne: My sister, Kerry (Miss January), is a fantastic writer and wordsmith. I had asked her for some name suggestions for our new wine club, and we thought SWILL was the most fun and a great pun, since we actually taste really great wine.

CC: The SWILL wine tasting and club starter kit includes several items necessary to have a tasting party including rating cards, invitations, hosting guide,ect. What part of the kit have you received the greatest feedback on?

Eva: We've received fantastic feedback on our SWILL Hosting 101 Guide. People have commented that it has great information on how to host a party, start a club, wine buying, tasting fees, wine themes, and other great tips. They also have said it's witty and entertaining to read. That really pleases us. It's all about making wine parties easy and fun...and we've got that down to a science.

CC: Speaking of the wine tasting science, how does your rating card work?

Anne: Our rating cards are set up so you can taste five different wines at each event. Professional wine experts recommend that you don't taste much more than that as your palate becomes overwhelmed.

Eva: Then the wine's distinct characteristics get lost and that would be a shame. We taste some great wines, some of them costing over $40 a bottle. You don't want to overdo it in order to really appreciate all the nuances of the tasting experience.

CC: Where do your recipes come from that are posted on your site?

Eva: Our recipes were collected from our very talented SWILL club members. The SWILL hosts provide appetizers and light foods. Every host has put a different spin on their offerings and we've discovered some great recipes along the way.

Anne: In other words, we've blatantly steal their recipes to add to our site! They don't mind though.

CC: Who's idea was it really to make the Women of SWILL calendar?

Anne: Honestly, we were joking about it at a SWILL in a friend's newly remodeled bathroom. We were all crowded together looking in her mirror and Lori said something like..."Look at us! We should do a calendar! Ha ha." Well, after seven of the SWILL women traveled to Buffalo, NY, this spring for mammograms, the calendar idea was re-energized with the purpose. We'd all been touched by cancer in some way, and as women the thought of being diagnosed with breast cancer was terrifying to us.

CC: Were any of the women camera shy?

Eva: That would be a big YES. None of us are models. Even though we are all tastefully draped in fabric, we still had to get to that point. Participating in this experience, took me and the other women into a new realm of experience that at first was a little intimidating but quickly became very comfortable with our friend and calendar photographer Lori Tiller's ability to put people at ease.

CC: How many calenders have you run in your first printing?

Eva: We've printed 1000 in our first run and have sold 200 on pre-orders alone in less than a month. Sales are brisk and we hope to sell all of them. If our stock begins to run low and we're still in calendar-buying season, then we will consider printing more.

CC: What drew you to working with Living Beyond Breast Cancer?

Anne: We approached about 20 nonprofit national organizations, four of which expressed an interested in working with us. LBBC's staff is great and their mission really resonated with us, because LBBC helps newly diagnosed women as well as survivors, and there are thousands that are trying to live their lives to the fullest with this diagnosis. These women are all hoping for a cure, as are we, but in the meantime there is life to live and LBBC helps pave the way to living it to the fullest.

A quote from a local family physician says it all. "Many people find cancer such a terrifying word that they forget it's often preventable, treatable and survivable. Sometimes we get so caught up in worrying about the future that we forget our lives are happening now. This calendar celebrates living in the present.” - Annmarie Zimmermann, M.D., Olean, NY

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you to Anne and Eva for stopping by the Corner and keep on SWILLing!

No comments: