At a recent meeting at D’Vine Wine on Champa Street in Denver, Charlene Meriwether, owner, told me about a Business After Hours event and Art Gallery Opening at the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce that I just had to attend. Charlene was going to be pouring her Wild Women Wines, so of course I needed to make an appearance.
As I mingled through the crowd of men and women alike showcasing their businesses at different display tables around the CWCC offices, I made my way to the “wine room” where Charlene was serving up the juice and decided to try her Pinot Noir, which was described as a robust, Oregon-style pinot with a medium-bodied finish. Meant to be “easy on the nose, and easy on the palate,” I enjoyed a glass while perusing the art, which was bright and colorful and had me wishing for a spring day in January.
The offices of the CWCC are colorful themselves with blue and purple dividers making rooms between the desks and tables. Hung on them was the artwork of some of the Chamber’s members, for display and for sale. Among the business display tables were representatives from companies in Colorado such as Sam’s Club, Solera National Bank, Edward Jones, Leading Edge Advisers, Mrs. B’s Baskets as well as HOPE 29:11, a small business consultancy and customer of D’Vine Wine.
The owner of HOPE 29:11, Andrea Pitman, had her own attractive label made especially for the event as a giveaway with two wine glasses that D’Vine was happy to create for her on short notice. (Imagine having a political fundraiser and serving wine with your own label on the bottles, as Tom Tancredo did during the gubernatorial race. Talk about making a statement!)
After about an hour or so of everyone networking and picking at the hors d’oeuvres, Donna Evans, President and CEO of the Chamber, addressed the crowd to talk about the Chamber and show a brief promotional video. After arbitrarily having someone choose a business card from a bowl, the winner of the first door prize, one Kathy McCarthy, received a very large bottle of Colorado-distilled vodka from sponsor Solera National Bank. Other door prizes included a $50 gift certificate to a travel agency, and a basket of goodies from Mrs. B’s Baskets.
Doug Critchfield, President of Solera Bank in Lakewood spoke as well, saying that “Over fifty percent of business owners are women.” I met Doug in the elevator right before the event. We took it to the wrong floor, went back down to the lobby of the building to find out where we were going, and then took it back up, along with several other people who were better informed. You would have thought we’d started drinking at an early happy hour somewhere else with all the confusion. Lynn Archuleta, Vice President of Business Banking at Solera in Lakewood boasted that the bank focuses on doing business with women and minorities. In closing, Evans said, “Please do business with businesses that do business with women. It makes a difference.”
Hungry for more snacks, I made my way to the food table and met Judy Taylor of Leading Edge Advisers, who mentioned that she is acquainted with such politicos as Representative Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, and former state Representative Alice Borodkin, D-Denver. A very interesting lady, we talked about marketing, politics and different types of media in Colorado. She’s the type of person you would really like to get to know given more time, more wine and a designated driver. But I was there to mingle, and it was soon time to entertain other social butterflies.
I walked past several gentlemen talking about the wine and overheard someone say that they actually have a wine cellar in their home. I made a mental note and later that evening I met Malcolm Aylett, Financial Advisor for Edward Jones. Apparently, he collects all kinds of wine and continuously tries out bottles that are new to him. I asked him what brought him to the Women’s Chamber that evening, and he said, “I grew up with professional women…I think they do a phenomenal job.” Mr. Aylett then gave me some names and numbers of a couple of people in the wine industry, just for reference should I need them in the future. A very discerning grape-sniffer, he hails from the same area in the south of England as my fiancé, which kept things interesting for a while until I met someone that is from the American northeast, like myself.
Linda-Jean Boyer comes from New Jersey, and said that she, too, had been around politics quite a bit, but was never directly involved, much like myself in a way. We chatted about the pros and cons of living so far from our original homes and learning a new way of dialoguing with people, such as: Leaving the northeastern sarcasm at the door, but missing it nonetheless. Another topic we both found interesting was U.S. governors and senators (past and present), including ones from states that neither of us had ever lived in. New Jersey’s gutsy Governor Chris Christie came up, as did Arizona Sen. John McCain and the immigration topic, which she seemed to have very strong feelings about. Boyer had no problem with immigrants receiving all kinds of citizen benefits — as long as they are legal and going through the proper channels. Seems to make sense to me.
On my way out I met Director of Business Development and Marketing, Diana Cordova, who made sure that I met everyone I needed to. As a business owner myself, this seems like a great group of people in which to get in front of and network. You might not think that an event like this is really political, and maybe it wasn’t in the sense we tend to think of at this paper. However, I find that any organization that has leaders, members and people who are curious always tends to be a bit political, and any event that has wine involved is worth attending. There is always something to write about!