I'd split the difference and say it was pleasant, but crowded, Bob.
Of course, I got to go in the first hour, which is more trade-oriented, and could leave before the mass onslaught of people started crowding in. So it was manageable at first, then crowded.
I really can't abide jam-packed rooms---not so much because of the number of people, but because people seem to be extraordinarily selfish and inconsiderate of others, and become even more so the more crowded it gets. Simple common courtesy goes away and rudeness becomes the order of the day. People standing in clusters right smack dab in the middle of a narrow aisle, forcing others to edge around them. Couples hogging the small area of a booth and preventing others from stepping up and sampling the wines and meeting the winemakers. That sort of rude and inconsiderate behavior is what I mean.
I agree, the event was quite well organized, with little disruption (well, except for the gaffe with the ballroom lights, of course
). I would have liked a larger space, with wider aisles---but then I would always appreciate those.
The major appeal of the event, for me, oddly enough, was not so much the wines, but the ability to see so many people I know, as well as getting to meet the people whose wines I know, but have not yet met them. Like Lynn Penner-Ash, for instance. And getting to talk to Tony Soter about a Pinot Blanc he made more than ten years ago---and engaging in an animated conversation wherein he recalled the tiniest details of that wine, and was elated to talk about it.
I've mentioned numerous times that the three things I look for in any good wine is the triple-legged stool of variety/place/person. This kind of event brings that home by focusing more on the person. And wine is people, that human element, as much as it is the grape and the place. Wine is people: it is defined by the person who made it, as well as the person who consumes it and appreciates it. And the ability to interact with that person, after already having formed a relationship with the wine, is a remarkable thing. Same thing with art, in any form (which of course includes wine, another form of art, of human expression). Knowing the people behind the wine makes the wine more complex, intriguing, interesting.
As an analogy, when I was teaching high school I had the opportunity to take some of my brightest students to a National Booksellers Convention, and met John Gardner, whose book "Grendel" I had been teaching. My students buttonholed him for quite a while, much to my delight (and his) and engaged in scintillating conversation about him and his book, finding new insights and challenging his ideas and how he expressed them---as only the ferocious and innocent precocity of youth can. It deepened their appreciation of what Gardner had accomplished, and helped illuminate their lives a bit by engaging with the creator of the book. To a much less exalted degree, that's what attending events like this can be, at their best anyway.
Then I can't stand the crowds anymore, start muttering about and to the oafs that surround me, and have to leave.