A recent gathering of winemakers and revelers in California's Temecula Valley may not have earned a Guinness World Records title, but they still found glory in getting together.
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World record wine toast
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley

On a recent trip to Southern California's wine country in Temecula Valley, I was asked "why there?" by some of my most trusted West Coast friends, because as their memory served them, the valley was little more than wide open spaces with just a handful of wineries. But, I was headed there come hell or high water for a very important date.

At the foot of the Temescal and Santa Ana Mountains, nearly 50 wineries producing varietals such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir lure wine lovers from around the world, including Guinness World Records (GWR) adjudicator, Mike Marcotte who rolled into town on April 26, 2022 as over 1,900 of us registered to join in the attempt to break the longest toast relay record achieved by Coca-Cola Thailand at Siam Square in Bangkok, Thailand on December 12, 2019.

Visit Temecula Valley (VTV) recently launched its newest brand campaign where Annette Brown, Senior Director of PR for Visit Temecula Valley, says the attempt was "a fun and memorable way to bring awareness to our Live Glass Full brand launch. We also loved the idea of getting the wineries, breweries, distilleries, local businesses and community involved." So, they submitted an application to GWR in July 2021 with a nod to proceed in November. Upon  reviewing the GWR guidelines, the team put together a task force to recruit toast participants and plan the event by the year's end.

Marcotte says that the GWR guidelines vary by attempt, but once approved must "be followed to the t and be abided by them." He traveled from his snowy home in Minneapolis to sunny California to meet Brown prior to the big day. "I pointed out things that might cause some issues on event day," he says. "But, I'm not there to be an event planner. I'm just there to adjudicate the event."

The brass tacks are left up to each attempt's planning team, but at the end of each attempt, Marcotte says he denies roughly 60 percent of applicants for varying reasons. Still, out of the 40 attempts he has adjudicated, on a rare occasion does he ever as much as get booed by the crowd when the attempt fails.

The Temecula Valley GWR Longest Toast Relay planning task force included 13 members (4 VTV staff prior to the event and 8 on the day of the event) with 29 additional group leaders that took care of communication with participants, and roughly 20 stewards that GWR required to observe 50 participants each during the attempt. "Just getting our application selected for the attempt was a challenge in itself but watching everyone roll up their sleeves and jump in to help and be a part of this event is awe inspiring," Bill Wilson, Visit Temecula Valley Board Chairman and co-owner of Wilson Creek Winery says. "We celebrate a region full of hard-working, fun-loving and creative individuals from every corner of life which is something this world really needs after a few difficult years. It is time to celebrate and what better way to toast than with a glass of wine!"

Wine glasses
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley

As participants, we were given explicit instructions for a successful adjudication that morning. Ironically, we were required to wear red considering the current record holder's undeniable brand color. As we were lined up in the shape of a wine glass, all became clear to me while standing in the "glass full" portion of the formation.

We stood for hours with our single pours donated by area wineries — Bel Vino Winery, BOTTAIA Winery, Callaway Vineyards & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Doffo Winery, EAT Marketplace, Europa Village, Falkner Winery, Fazeli Cellars, Masia del la Vinya Winery, Monte De Oro Winery & Vineyards, Mount Palomar Winery, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery, Peltzer Farm & Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards, Oak Mountain Winery, Wiens Family Cellars, and Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards — awaiting the clink-sip-clink-sip relay. A bit like herding cats, the "organizer was not expecting the delay," says Marcotte.

Alas, in the end, we did not succeed. The official final count of people raising their wine glasses and toasting was 943. Several local businesses and organizations stepped up with their own groups such as Pechanga Resort Casino, Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, Refuge Brewery, and numerous wineries. Even still, only about half the attempt's registrants showed up for the event, with many of them throwing in the towel as the hours wore on.

Brown says that she would not plan to cap the number of registrants if she were to make such a bold attempt again, and that "​the most rewarding part of the day was to see so many people gather, reunite with friends, and have a great time together."

Marcotte agrees, "People were incredibly friendly. I've never taken more photos. People were so happy and joyous to be there. I just really appreciated that. It's a stressful time especially for the organizer. But, to be a celebrity for a day, that was fun."

Even though we did not have the required number of participants to break Coca-Cola Thailand's record, we refused to give up and completed the toast relay with a smile. It may not have been one for the Guinness World Records book, but it was certainly one for the books nonetheless.

Guinness World Records reports 65,000+ record inquiries were made from 187 countries in 2021 with 6000+ records approved in 2021.