It’s almost unheard of for a small business to completely shut down a few days so that the entire staff can continue their education, but that’s exactly what Camerata is doing for the TEXSOM conference. They’ve come up with a fun and clever way to finance it, too: They’re throwing a Spanish-themed party.
TEXSOM started as a regional competition in 2005 but has rapidly grown into one of the most important conferences in the world for wine professionals. It’s held annually in Irving, Texas. “It’s three days of seminars, tastings and educational events, all geared around beverages,” says Camerata co-owner David Keck.
Both he and Camerata’s other owner, Paul Petronella, have planned for some time now for the entire Camerata staff to be able to go to TEXSOM. “They all volunteer. In the past, we’ve only closed the bar Sunday and Monday, but this year we’re actually closing Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That’s pretty rough for an independent bar,” explained Keck. “Additionally, we’re paying for all of their exams. Two of our staff are sitting second-level [Court of Master Sommelier] exams and one is taking first level. In addition, Lindsay Thomas is competing in the TEXSOM Best Sommelier Competition.”
On Sunday, August 2, starting at 6 p.m., Camerata is hosting a “Send Our Somms to TEXSOM” event, a party with distinctive Spanish flair. Sommelier Felipe Riccio, who also has a background as a chef, is preparing a menu of pintxos (Basque-style bar snacks). On the beverage side, expect a bunch of Txacolina wines, Sidra (hard apple cider) and all sorts of other coastal Spanish beverages.
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The “how” of drinking can be as interesting as the beverage choice. Camerata will have five porróns on-hand. A porrón is like a large glass flask with a spout near the bottom for pouring wine directly into your boca — that is, your mouth.
(For a sneak preview on what guests might be in for, check out the video on “Extreme Porróning” shared by Camerata. Porroning may take some practice, so maybe leave your favorite shirt at home.)
They’ll be used for decanting guests' bottle selections and, knowing the folks at Camerata, possibly in other interesting ways, too.
Punchcards for food will be $20, and guests can purchase as many as they need. Keck said the bites will range from one to five punches, depending on whether it’s something pricier, like oysters, or smaller, like almonds or olives. The party goes until 2 a.m. or until the booze and food run out — whichever comes first.