Get To Know Brian Confair: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Wine & Food Festival
I wanted to make wine approachable for everyone. This became my mission and how all my classes would be presented.
Ever wonder how you can turn your passion for wine into a career, or how to pull off a phenomenal wine and food festival?
With the Wine & Food Festival presented by The Hotel Hershey quickly approaching (September 16-18), we wanted to sit down with our wine expert, Brian Confair. Brian is Beverage Manager at The Hotel Hershey and has been with our company for the last 7 years. Each year, he spearheads the Wine & Food Festival due to his knowledge and expertise with wine and his relationships within the wine industry.
Wine is like music... there is always a style to fit your mood.
Follow along to get to know Brian, learn behind-the-scenes information about the Wine & Food Festival, and learn how you can become a wine expert:
- How did you get into the wine industry? My passion for wine began while working in restaurants – both as a server and then especially when I entered into management I really began to take a very big interest. I started attending classes, seminars, and tastings and absorbed wine knowledge like a dry sponge.
- Why are you so passionate about wine? I was very intimidated by wine at first. My “moment” came after learning that I could pass my knowledge to others at a level where people could understand and not feel so intimidated. I understood how they were feeling and wanted to change that. I wanted to make wine approachable for everyone. This became my mission and how all my classes would be presented.
- What is your favorite type of wine (maker, type, etc.)? I love all wines for the variety that they provide. I like red more than white, New World more than Old World, Pinot Noir most of the time, although I find that wine is like music... there is always a style to fit your mood.
- Why did The Hotel Hershey decide to start the Wine & Food Festival? The Hotel had all of the makings for a great festival. The location was perfect and beautiful, the space was there, and I was getting the support from everyone that would be important to make it successful including John Daly (Food & Beverage Director) and Brian O'Day (General Manager). With my previous career in the industry, I had seen how these festivals work and come together. Because I had been working for other festivals, I had all the contacts I needed and a much needed team of coworkers that were willing to help put it all together and make it great! I also have a personal attachment to Hershey, Mr. Hershey, and our mission. What we do is important to me, and this is one way I could help to make a difference and be a part of making Hershey a destination for yet another reason.
- Can you explain how the festival has grown? Well, the more the Festival grows, the larger the team has to be. Thankfully we have a great team and receive help from all over in our company. Without their help and support, we could not grow at all. We started with only a few volunteers and now have close to 60 volunteers helping out. This has helped us to add events over the last few years, such as our Wine & Cheese pairing, Blending class, Waltz Vineyard tour & tasting, and our Winemakers Reception and Comedy show.
- What does The Hotel Hershey Wine & Food Festival mean for our guests, local and non-local? It is truly an experience. It’s elegant and classy and features food from all our restaurants around the company, a selection of wine from all over the globe, and 9 different local breweries for variety. The beautiful Hotel Hershey also provides a backdrop with the space for people to really enjoy the afternoon. It doesn't feel crowded and people don't feel rushed. It is a relaxing stroll through the property while eating and tasting your favorite wine or beer.
- What event are you most looking forward to this year? The Grand Tasting is the premier event but all the events have something different to offer. I am still learning so much and the blending class is great for those eager to learn about what goes in to blending wine to make the perfect glass. The wine-infused comedy show is always relaxing and funny and you get to meet a Winemaker before and after the show, and this year, it's none other than Kim Crawford. Finally, the Winemaker’s dinner is a special night where our executive chef, Ken Gladysz, gets together with the Winemaker, Italo Joffre from Concha Y Toro in Chile, for a specially paired dining experience. This year is a special treat because we are offering a vertical for the first time.
- What is your advice to people trying to get into the wine industry? Follow your passion and it will take you as far as you want to go. People will see it and feed off of it. People always tell me that they can really tell that I love my job – that it is always written all over my face and expressed through my excitement in sharing all that I can with them.
- Any other thoughts? Chocolate-Covered February offers our Wine and Chocolate pairings at The Hotel Hershey. It is by far my favorite to teach and one of the most informative classes we have. You walk out of the class feeling like a changed person because you now have a different understanding about wine, how to drink it, order it, taste it, and what types you like. I have had so many people come back for this class every year because they enjoy it so much. In fact, I have guests who’ve attended all seven years and swear they will be back again for the next one. That is the biggest compliment I could possibly receive. I recommend this class for everyone no matter how big of a wine enthusiast you are.
For information about the Wine & Food Festival presented by The Hotel Hershey, visit: http://www.thehotelhershey.com/dining/wine-food-festival.php.
About The Hotel Hershey
The Hotel Hershey is a one-of-a-kind resort complete with 276 guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting and function space. The 1930s hotel is known for its refined elegance, signature service, and abundant amenities. The Hotel Hershey is situated high atop the town of Hershey and features a Mediterranean design, The Spa At The Hotel Hershey, majestic formal gardens, fountains, reflecting pools and terraces. The property is also a member of Historic Hotels of America. Opened in 1934 by Milton S. Hershey, The Circular is The Hotel Hershey’s flagship restaurant. The Circular serves upscale casual cuisine and innovative cocktails in a unique atmosphere. For more information about The Hotel Hershey or the destination of Hershey, Pennsylvania, visit www.TheHotelHershey.com. Join the conservation by following The Hotel Hershey on Facebook, @TheSweetestPlaceOnEarth on Instagram, and @HersheyPA on Twitter.