Why Who Ordered the Opus One Matters

Joe Vezzoso, Chairman of the ECVB

Guest Editorial by Joe J. Wallace

Why Who Ordered the Opus One Matters

Who would have ever thought that a wine that was established for the sole purpose of catering to the upper class of the worlds centers of wealth would have such a week of free advertising in little old Evansville. Opus One was started for the purpose of creating a brand that would be recognized and consumed by quite frankly wealthy people. The name itself was chosen to combine English and Latin in a way that the French would recognize the brand. The royal family of wine in Napa Valley, California the Mondavis formed the joint venture with a real Royal Family from France, the Rothchilds, to go forth and create wines that only educated pallets and conspicuous consumers could ever appreciate. Opus One was bred to be an over $100 per bottle wine in stores and I reckon a $250 per bottle wine in restaurants in Midwestern cities.

This week it became public knowledge that the Board of Directors of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau celebrated Christmas with a dinner that included 5 bottles of $250 each of burgundy sunshine. Those five bottles including tax and gratuity constituted $1,605 of a total bill of $3,079 that set off a firestorm in the City of Evansville this week. If the cost of the Opus One is removed from the bill the total for the 14 celebrants would have been $1,474 or slightly over $105 per person. Now $105 per person is an expensive dinner, but $220 per person is excessive. Without the Opus One, this dinner would have been at the low end of past dinners enjoyed by the Board of Directors of the ECVB when they gathered together to celebrate.

For this reason, “who ordered the Opus?” is a question that should be asked. Chairman of the Board Joe
Vezzoso is on record as saying that it does not matter who ordered the Opus. He says that because as a growing number of people have privately stated, he is the person who sat at the head of the table and ordered all 5 bottles of the Opus. By making that decision and placing that order Chairman Vezzoso took an expensive dinner and made it excessive. The public response to this excessiveness has robbed the Evansville CVB of the volunteer services of 5 very talented people and their spouses. Perhaps the entire group of professionals and business owners will choose to abstain from public volunteerism from this week forward. If that happens we can thank Mr. Vezzoso for the good deeds that they will now never do.

The members of the board have now equally repaid the expense of the dinner and the CVB has been made whole. The individual members however have not been made whole. To be made whole this is what should happen. Mr. Vezzoso should pick up the $1,605 bill for the Opus himself. He ordered it, he treated everyone, and he should honor the debt of excessiveness that he alone made. What were the other board members and the acting executive director supposed to do? Should they have stopped the event to call out the Chairman of the Board over ordering wine? The rest of the members should pay individually for the alcohol that they each consumed. The remainder of the bill should be approved for payment from CVB funds and treated like all Holiday parties are, as a thank you to the volunteers who spent countless hours pushing this forward.

Dunn Hospitality is a well run business that pays and collects taxes that benefit Evansville. Tucker Publications with its many titles is probably the best ambassador for Evansville lifestyle that has ever been sustained. The other board members are also quite successful in their own right. You may not like the comments that some of these people made after the news of the dinner broke, but you have to respect their talent and dedication. For an area that publically acknowledges having a “brain drain” problem to squander the talents of five proven professionals over the indulgence of one is beyond ridiculous. These people are our friends and neighbors. They are also some of the most talented professionals that the City of Evansville has had FREE access to the talent of for a number of years.

These people’s service as board members of the ECVB is now ended. The genie of this night of extravagance will not be put back into the Opus One bottle. These people however will continue to live and prosper in and around Evansville and hopefully will someday decide to once again volunteer their considerable talents and time to projects in Evansville and Vanderburgh County that desperately need talented people who will work for food.

12 Responses to Why Who Ordered the Opus One Matters

  1. 292 Reply

    January 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    It is not that I just did not like the comments of some of these board members. Or even that I felt that the costly dinner and other beverages on our dime were excessive, which I still do. The whole problem is attitude, that of entitlement, the “I deserve this”, that was flaunted. And I don’t see that going away in the future for these people. Please remember that in this particular type of volunteer setup, many of the board members were working to promote their own businesses (motels, hotels, magazine etc) by “volunteering” at the CVB. So that isn’t really volunteering, is it? It is more of an extension of one’s own business. Having had dealings with some of the board members in the past, I can say that this entitlement attitude has come across in other situations before. There was at times a very distinct impression that these folks felt that they had the answers and would be glad to share them with us lower types who did not really count for too much. But they would be nice and help us anyway. So maybe this is the type of “brain drain” we need to have had occur so that brains with different perspectives can volunteer to better Evansville. It probably was time for a change.

  2. vvc1 Reply

    January 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    one must remember that Vezzoso ran the Riverhouse into the ground and has been working for the French Lick casino while serving on the ECVB, which would seem to be a conflict of interest

    • Frank Peterlin Reply

      January 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      and the Executive…

  3. Soon2B Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Excellent editorial, Joe.

  4. outside_observer Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Great piece, Joe.

    Unfortunately, the mainstream media in Evansville is too cozy with the politicians and the business leaders to demand answers to these kinds of questions.

    Does the CCO have a “reporter” it can get credentialed and start sending to all news events, press conferences, etc? At least then the right questions would be asked…

  5. CJ54 Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve read this three times now and still haven’t figured out how it got from “people have privately stated” to “Joe Vezzoso ordered all 5 bottles of the Opus”. I’m privately saying that they all thought that it was Boones Farm but the waitress messed up the order. Now go write a new editorial. You don’t have a real source and we all know about “those” private sources. “Private source” told us last years party was 25% more than this years. Let me guess, your “private source” was drinking a beer next to you at the bar last night.

    • editor Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      The sources are people who were in attendance who for whatever reason are fearful about coming forward. They want the story told but are too fearful to stand up for themselves. We gave them a voice. It would be much more effective if they would carry their own water. Fear is not a good thing to let rule your life. They named the person and described the atmosphere very well and then asked not to be named. We can only wonder why.

      • CJ54 Reply

        January 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

        Riiight. People that were there told you privately, which means they were absolving themselves of any responsibility, but won’t say it publicly. You really got a reliable source there don’t you? Reminds me of the burglar that was just hanging out with some friends and didn’t know why they wanted him to hold the sack of jewelry. (he told me that privately, but wouldn’t say it publicly, because he was afraid he’d make his friends mad.)

        • editor Reply

          January 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

          Actually there are five. You have a decent analogy but this seems more like being a passenger in the getaway car. It does not make you innocent, but it also does not make you a bank robber.

          • CJ54

            January 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm

            Point well made and taken. I still have to wonder and believe that they hedged the truth to make themselves appear more innocent. As if they weren’t just being a passenger in the getaway car but were also the lookout and getaway car driver.

  6. sabby Reply

    January 10, 2011 at 6:39 am

    292 hit the nail on the head! “ENTITLEMENT” is NOT a good thing.

    • David Reply

      January 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      The members should take their lumps for being excessive and let the pieces fall where they may. I will watch for hidden cameras then next time I attend an appreciation function. The editorial presented a well rounded perspective. Moral of the story, we appreciate what the board members did for the CVB but not to the tune of $3K.

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