TEXSOM Retreat is the Best Experience!

TEXSOM Retreat Adventures

For the last two days, I’ve been honored to be a Writing Mentor for the TEXSOM Retreat in Dallas, TX.  This has been an amazing adventure and attempting to place this into words is not easy.  One of the most important aspects that I try to focus on with all my writing is painting the picture for you.  I want to explain what I’m seeing and doing in terms that you understand.  I have to keep it real.  I can easily get into technical writing (which I’ve been trained to do).  Technical brings facts but it also brings distance between the writer (me) and the audience (you).

I love that I’ve been able to teach others about food and beverages for a career.  Doing that, it’s easy to get technical.  Let’s be honest….you don’t care about the technicalYou want the end results!  You want to know if a wine or tea is good.  You want to know how to make an entrée the quickest way to get perfect results.

Today I’m going to give you my thoughts of my time here.   Most important, I want you to have the journey with me.  Most people do not understand the world I live in related to Hospitality.  Let’s see if I can paint a portrait for you.

My Days

Long days are the norm for events like this (I Love it BTW).  My Sunday started at 6:30 am with the group gathering for breakfast and opening remarks.  Then the work begins.  The core of this event is the Beverage Competition and Awards.  This is a massive undertaking to organize and run over three days of judging.  However, there is much more work that occurs prior to that no one sees.

For the awards, beverages are submitted for the competition weeks prior.  These are grouped into the appropriate beverage categories.  These wines then are entered into the TEXSOM system, catalogued in their appropriate group and then stored until the event. 

Truck Unload

All of the wines, and equipment to run the competition arrives on the truck.  This is unloaded by the team and brought upstairs to be sorted.  I’m not able to show you pictures of the wines (Competition Rules) but I can say there are over 2300 submissions as shown by the empty boxes.  I would like you take a moment to really think about this.

  • There are over 2300 submissions for this event that will be evaluated over three days!!

Approximately 40 judges will be tasked with evaluating all of these products.  That ranges from sparking, to whites, to reds and spirits.  I wish I can show you the bottles being staged so you can really grasp the enormity of this task!!

The System

To give you an understanding of how this works.  A submission to be evaluated needs to be opened (chilled if needed) and poured into coded glasses.  The coded glasses reference the submission for tracking purposes but does not have any reporting marks for the judges.  Therefore, the judges will not know what it is.  BTW, the judges are never allowed to see any of the beverages so they are completely blind on all submissions.  The submission is evaluated and scored.  If it rates high enough, its checked again (to ensure the score is correct for the submission) and can win a medal.

The People

The diversity of people here assisting is incredible.  At the first dinner, I sat beside an engineer, a food blogger, a wine inventory consultant and sommelier.  I assumed that everyone here would be a sommelier or higher.  I failed to realize the scope of the passion here.

Hospitality is an amazing industry.  In simple terms, we serve others and love to do it.  Presently, we are in a transition in our business. We are at a point (due to various reasons including the Pandemic), where the Hospitality Industry has taken a huge hit.  We are struggling to find and retain people (more and more, the industry has moved to self service).  For a time, I lost the passion to serve others.  What energizes me are events like this.

At this event, we have people from all aspects of the industry (and some not in the business) that come together to make this happen.  Not for money, for the passion.  At the first dinner, I was fully accepted in the group in five minutes.  I felt home for the first time in a long time.  That says it all. 

This is a group dedicated to bringing together this competition.  The best part…There is a Retreat each year that sponsors the next generation to come in for training.  That’s who I’m assisting.  And I can not stress enough how honored I am.

The Rest of the Day.

The rest of the first day was filled with incredible seminars related to personal awareness and growth.  I learned a great deal from the introspection.  Dinner was a great mixed buffet served with 8 Cavas showcasing the new law changes.  Cava is Spanish Sparkling wine made in the method of Champagne production.  These are a phenomenal value (some of them aged for 3 years for less that $30) making them a great option instead of Champagne.  Please note, I love Champagne but if I can purchase something with great quality for half the price, I’m always going to make this choice. 

After dinner came the glassware polishing party.  If you are going to have that many samples (multiplied by the number of judges), you need glassware.  Therefore, we polished multiple stacks of glassware racks to get ready for the first day of judging.  This alone was pleasurable.  I was able to reconnect with friends that I met 20+ years ago to meeting new friends.  Getting a blister on the hands from multiple glasses is a small price to pay.

Final Thoughts.

I’m in bed resting with multiple thoughts running through my head.  Meeting all of these people with incredible backgrounds coming together to showcase their passion for beverages and helping others is intangible.  From people that have just started in the business to 30 year + industry members has reenergized me fully.  What can I take away from this experience?

  • Let your passion guide you forward and you will be happy surrounded by other passionate people. Whatever your goal is in life / career, ENJOY IT FULLY!!

I’ve been blessed to be able to be part of another incredible event helping the industry.  Some days, my life does not get any better!!   

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