Lorraine LeMon welcomes guests to one of the First Friday Wine Shares in Kerrville. Photo by Phil Houseal

May 31, 2017–It’s the kind of meeting even people who hate meetings will attend. Invite everyone you know–and don’t know–and ask them to bring a favorite bottle of wine to share. No agenda, no minutes, nothing to vote on, and barely anyone who claims to be in charge.

It’s called Wine Share, and now happens in both Kerrville and Fredericksburg.

Lorraine LeMon, one of the leaders of the First Friday Wine Share in Kerrville, calls it “speed neighboring.”

“I think of it as speed neighboring,” LeMon said. “The beauty of it is you go out and visit with a person, and within 60 seconds you just move along and no one is offended by it.”

Kerrville has hosted the First Friday Wine Share for years. Founded by Gary and Peggy Stork, current organizers in addition to LeMon are Stephen and Carrie Schmerbeck, and Misty O’Fiel. Fredericksburg started its 2nd Friday Wine Share last year, headed up by Wes Georgeson.

“I was new to Texas and within five years of doing insurance full time,” said Georgeson, who is an agent with Frantzen, Kaderli, Klier. “I saw the explosion in what Wine Share was doing in Kerrville and thought, what brings people together better than wine?That was my initial reasoning.”

Technically, Wine Share is more companionable than transactional.

“Unlike a mixer where you feel you have to promote your business, this is more of a people thing,” said Schmerbeck, President of Garrett Insurance. “It is an amazing mix of people you get, which is different depending on where you host it. Then you have your core people like me that go to all of them no matter where it is.”

How much of Wine Share is about the wine? That depends.

Like the person at the potluck who shows up with a store bought pound cake, there is always the risk of being caught bringing a bottle of wine that is, well, inadequate. But for the most part there is honor among wine drinkers.

“It is about the wine, for some,” Schmerbeck said. “If you bring a junky bottle, people look at you funny. Other people don’t know good wine from bad wine.”

In Fredericksburg, wine may hold more of the spotlight.

“Wine is a huge driver for tourism in Gillespie County,” said Georgeson, who sees the Fredericksburg wine share as more of an opportunity to support that wine industry. “If I can get people to stop buying stuff from Venezuela, that will help the local economy. More wineries, more tourists, can only be good for the area.”

LeMon simply considers the wine “motivating juice.”

“The purpose is for people to get together so you get to know who is in your town, then have a decent conversation outside of the normal business working atmosphere.”

Depending on the venue, Kerrville Wine Shares can attract 100 to 200 attendees. Fredericksburg’s events are more in the 50-60 range, although Georgeson expects that number to grow. There is a range of “fancy-ness” depending on the hosts. The last one I attended was in the parking lot of a medical complex. But the events have been held inside offices, in theater lobbies, and at outdoor shelters. Some are simply tables and corkscrews; others include finger foods and live music.

And just to correct the record, there really is an agenda: 1) bring a bottle of wine, 2) set it on the table, and 3) share.

All those in favor?


Kerrville’s next Wine Share is Friday, June 2, 6-7:30 pm, at Louise Hays Park, hosted by Cailloux Theater. www.firstfridaywineshare.com

Fredericksburg’s next Wine Share is Friday, June 9, 5-7:30 pm, at Frantzen, Kaderli, Klier. www.facebook.com/2ndFridayWineShare