For the past six years, we have looked forward to the Charity Fall Wine Festival put on by The Savory Grape wine and beer shop in East Greenwich. It’s not often that you get to taste some good wine, meet nice people and get a little buzz on for a good cause. Needless to say, we were disappointed when we learned it was not going to be held this year and we asked Jessica Granatiero, the owner of the Savory Grape, why no wine fest this year?
“We’ve been busy with our new business, The Savory Affair,” she explained. “We just didn’t have the time, but we do intend to start it up again next year, after things settle down around here. We’ve had to regroup some this year.”
The Savory Grape held the event annually from 2007 to 2012. The Charity Fall Wine Festival alternately gave the proceeds to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and the Rhode Island Community Action Association. Over those six years, the festival raised a total of just over $80,000 for those organizations. It was held at various locations in the past, including the Greenwich Club, the Crowne Plaza in Warwick and The Dorrance in Providence.
The Savory Affair launched a new online video series, available at http://thesavoryaffair.com, focused on providing easy decorating and entertaining ideas to build good will for the new venture and to show off some of the neat ideas they have for entertaining.
“Our whole idea is based on the premise that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to put on a great event,” said Granatiero. “We have had some large corporate clients with big budgets, but we’ve also done a lot of smaller parties. We recently did a party for a man’s wife’s 40th birthday that was held in the East Greenwich Volunteer Firefighters’ Hall. She was into belly dancing, so we turned the hall into a Mediterranean-themed restaurant for the evening, with a Mediterranean menu. You don’t have to have a big event to have a memorable event and you don’t always have to spend a lot of money.”
A Delaware native, Granatiero moved to Rhode Island after she married a business executive from Cranston. Her education and background was in communications and public relations, but like so many students, she paid her way through college and early hard times by working in the hospitality business, meaning she was a bartender, a waitress and eventually a manager before she could support herself in public relations. She has worked in Washington, D.C., and in Cambridge, Mass., where she met her future husband, Nino, a 1985 graduate of Cranston West and later of URI. Her background in hospitality led her into the world of wine and beer, where she has become well known for the breadth of her knowledge of both.
But it is her imagination and flare for finding something special about an event to bring home to guests that has been encouraging her to broaden her involvement in entertainment, but she adamantly denies that she is a caterer or a typical event planner.
“Most planners offer you packages to choose from,” she said. “With us, you get us. You tell us what your budget is and what you are trying to do and we offer ideas and concepts to get you what you want. We handle the logistics of it. We have caterers and florists we work with, but mostly we just produce events.”
Produce is a good way of putting it. The Savory Affair has put on some events that resembled theatre. Guests at their events have been treated to the heavenly sound of harps and the startling pleasure of seeing statues come alive.
“With the holidays just around the corner, the first video in the Wine & Design series focuses on a timeless holiday tradition, the Pomander Ball. New Savory Affair Event Planner Alexandra Kreher explains how in just a few simple steps, you can have a beautiful decoration that delights the eyes and scents the home for the season,” according to a recent news release touting the videos that can be viewed at www.thesvoryaffair.com.
“We are so excited to offer these new video vignettes that will provide quick tips for decorating, entertaining, wine pairing and hosting a fabulous gathering,” said Granatiero, in her finest PR mode. “Our first video gives customers an easy way to accent their home and capture the spirit of the season.”
Traditionally used in the mid-13th century, Pomander Balls were worn or carried in a vase to control not-so-nice smells. Today they're used as décor or potpourri for your home – plus they are simple, quick and inexpensive to make. In the two-minute video, Alexandra walks the viewer through a few easy steps to achieve a unique holiday look using only a few supplies: Oranges, toothpicks, whole cloves, cinnamon, a Ziploc bag and decorative ribbon.
Alexandra has been involved in the event industry in Rhode Island since 2009 and recently joined The Savory Affair team. She has served as the festival director of Bright Night Providence, the New Year's Eve Festival that takes place in downtown Providence each year.
Granatiero has an eye for talent in the event business. One of her most successful and consistently pleasant events is The Savory Grape itself. The staff will meet and greet you as you come in the door but take you seriously when you say, “Just looking,” and leave you alone to browse among the products that are arranged according to their flavor and characteristics and not strictly by regions, varieties and price. It, in effect, reflects Granatiero’s approach to events.
“Having a successful event doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive,” she said. “In fact, if it’s planned right, an event could actually reduce costs. We don’t need a lot of money. Obviously, that helps, but our real goal is to form long-lasting relationships with our personal and corporate clients.”
That’s all well and good, and we wish you luck, but we want our Charity Fall Wine Festival back. It makes doing good feel even better.