Browsing articles in "wine festivals"
Jun 19, 2014
Terri Judson

The Rise of Rosé: How "Pink Wine" Became Serious Business


What used to be considered a sickeningly sweet, grocery store wine is now finding its way on to some of the fanciest and most expensive wine lists in the US. From Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in CA to Chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in NY, “pink wine” is making a serious name for itself in the US.

In fact, according to a January 2014 Nielsen report, in 2013 retail sales of premium imported rosé wines (those priced at $12 or more) increased 39% on volume and 48% on value. This marks nine straight years of double digit growth in the US, proving that the perception of rosé as a low quality wine is a thing of the past.

Why this change? According to French wine entrepreneur Pierrick Bouquet, the primary reason is that there’s been a significant improvement in the quality of rosé. In the past, Pierrick explains, most winemakers set out to make red wine and then later decided to turn a portion of the juice pressed for red wine into rosé. While this is still done by some, more and more winemakers are now choosing to make rosé from the outset and are specifically focusing their viniculture efforts on producing rosé rather than simply using it as an outlet for unused juice. As winemakers have started making rosé with intention, the quality of the wine has naturally improved.

In addition to quality and affordability, rosé has also grown in popularity is because it can easily be paired with a variety of foods. As Master Sommelier Kathy Morgan explains, “Structurally, rosé’s bracing acidity, lack of oak aging, and moderate alcohol are all very food-friendly traits. Acidity mirrors the tangy and pungent ingredients of spring and summer while also highlighting their fresh flavors. Moderate alcoholic strength means that it won’t exacerbate spice or salt, and won’t overpower food. Rosé also has that best-of-both-worlds thing going on—it has white wine structure and red wine flavors, so it can be as light or intense as necessary depending on the food it’s being paired with.”

Although more people are drinking rosé now than ever before, Pierrick says that there is still a lack of education surrounding this wine category. So in an effort to better inform people, he has organized La Nuit en Rosé (The Pink Night), the country’s first large-scale wine event dedicated to sparking and still rosé. Taking place aboard the Hornblower Hybrid yacht along the Hudson River, La Nuit en Rosé will bring together 58 wineries from 10 countries around the world to present over 85 different rosé wines. Showcasing wines from France to Africa to Turkey to the US, this event will give people the opportunity to learn how rosé is made worldwide and to compare rosé styles, varietals, and complexity levels from one producer to another. Pierrick’s goal for this event is not to push any specific region or varietal, but to educate people about the category as a whole and show people how diverse rosé wines can be.

Though a yacht is not your typical venue for a large-scale wine tasting event, Pierrick says the choice was about more than just the wine. “We wanted to make this more like a lifestyle event than a formal wine tasting event,” Pierrick explains. “Rosé is a wine that reflects summer and a good mood. So it’s not just the wine we want people to taste; we want people to really enjoy their time while tasting it.”

La Nuit en Rosé will take place in New York City over two days and nights on June 13th and 14th. In addition to the 85+ wines available for tasting, the event will include music by live DJs and food from Brooklyn Oyster Party, Vin sur Vingt, Canelé by Céline and The Tispsy Scoop, among others. Tickets are $60 each and are available on the La Nuit en Rosé website.  All the wines presented will be available for sale on board via Zachys.

For those of you unable to attend, stay tuned for our Rosé Wrap Up.  We’ll delve deeper into the process of producing rosé and the different varietals used around the world to make it, and we’ll also provide you with a list of recommendations to satisfy all your summer rosé needs!


Pierrick Bouquet is the founder of ABLE, a NY-based creative agency for food and wine, which he runs with fellow countryman Jacques Azoulay.  ABLE orchestrates wine-tasting events in restaurants and venues across the US and works to create contemporary events, innovative digital marketing programs, brand recognition, and established public personas for an extensive list of international clients, including Wines of South Africa and Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux. 

Kathy Morgan is a Washington, DC-based Master Sommelier, wine educator and consultant.  She has 15 years of experience as an acclaimed sommelier and wine director, having gained a diverse scope of experience in restaurants such as Michel Richard’s Citronelle, Bryan Voltaggio’s RANGE and Ristorante Tosca.  She’s also an instructor at the Capital Wine School in DC and the International Culinary Center in NYC, and is a member of the DC chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.  In addition, Kathy has lent her expertise to many local and national publications, and is a frequent wine judge and speaker at food and wine festivals.

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Jun 18, 2014
Terri Judson

3 wine festivals on the horizon in SLO County

If you enjoy wine festivals, get ready to enjoy three of them in San Luis Obispo County this summer, with events ranging from tastings and food pairings to dinner at Hearst Castle.

Roll Out the Barrels | June 19-22

The first event for wine enthusiasts is the 24th annual Roll Out the Barrels, set for June 19-22.

The annual festival usually draws about 2,400 participants each year, said Heather Muran, executive director for the San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, which organizes the event.

Activities include a “Barrels in The Plaza” grand tasting next to the Mission in San Luis Obispo on Thursday, when wines will be paired with treats from local chefs, and wine and restaurant pairings on Friday.

Ticket holders will also have a two-day passport to more than 20 participating wineries for special deals on wines, food and live entertainment. Roughly 1,400 people buy the passports each year, Muran said, but this year she is hoping to increase that number to 1,500.

The weekend will culminate in the Summer Krush concert featuring Gavin DeGraw, Matt Nathanson and Mary Lambert. Concert tickets are not included in Roll Out the Barrels tickets, though passport holders can get discounted tickets through

Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival | June 28, 4-8 p.m.

For those who want a shorter event, the one-day Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival fits the bill.

More than 70 Central Coast wineries will participate in the festival, now in its 19th year, said festival chairman Barbie Butz. About 2,000 people show up each year to participate and enjoy the festival’s live music, tastings, culinary pairings and artist showcases.

Because of the location next to the new rotunda and bandstand, Butz describes the festival as “an event in a Norman Rockwell painting.”

“It’s very comfortable and laid-back,” Butz said. “It’s a smaller event in comparison with other festivals, but that’s nice. … The wineries all have time to actually chat with people at the booths about the wines.”

Many of the proceeds for the festival go to help the Charles Paddock Zoo with improvements, as well as other projects in Atascadero, such as installing an antique clock in the Sunken Gardens near City Hall, Butz said.

For more information on the Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival, visit

Central Coast Wine Classic | July 10-13

One of the longest running wine events in the county, the 29th annual Central Coast Wine Classic is set for July 10-13, and will celebrate all the wineries and personalities that have been a part of its three-decade history.

The annual event celebrates the wineries of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Sonoma counties and Napa Valley, with many of the proceeds going to local nonprofits.

Founder and chairman Archie McLaren said in the past 10 years, the Wine Classic has raised more than $2 million for nonprofits such as the San Luis Obispo Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County and Woods Humane Society (all were 2013 beneficiaries).

The Wine Classic’s Barrel Tasting in Avila Beach and Hearst Castle Dinner are scheduled for July 10, with several special events July 11.

On July 12, the Wine Classic will hold its live auction, silent auction and luncheon at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, and the Reserve Wine Tasting is scheduled for the same place the next day.

For a full schedule of events, visit Those interested in buying tickets can contact McLaren at 544-1285 or by email at

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Jun 17, 2014
Terri Judson

The best burgers in America

  • Flickr/RLee

  • Flickr/RLee

  • Sylvia Paret

  • Father’s Office

  • Flickr/Marshall Astor

  • Flickr/Eat This Beef

  • Flickr/ Christopher Octa

  • Flickr/ccho

  • Flickr/yorkd

  • Flickr/Andrew

Are there any foods that are more quintessentially American than the burger?

The simple act of cooking a patty of ground beef and putting it on a bun is arguably even more American than apple pie, and when done properly there are few foods more delicious. In order to not only honor this magical sandwich but also the restaurants that serve the finest examples of it, this year we decided to expand our ranking of America’s best burgers.

But first, a little history. The burger traces its roots all the way back to the Mongol Empire, where their tradition of mincing horsemeat was passed onto the Russians, who in turn brought it to the major port of Hamburg, Germany, in the early 19th century. The most common destination for ships departing from Hamburg was New York, and by the late 1800s restaurants in New York began serving what they called Hamburg steaks, seasoned and cooked patties of ground beef, to German immigrants. According to Josh Ozersky’s The Hamburger: A History, the oldest mention of a Hamburg steak on a menu was at New York’s Delmonico’s, a recipe developed by one of history’s greatest chefs, Charles Ranhofer.

The exact origin of the modern-day hamburger unfortunately remains a mystery, but there are several contenders. Perhaps the most well-known is Louis Lassen, who introduced a hamburger steak sandwich at his New Haven, Conn., restaurant Louis Lunch in 1900. Others claim that “Hamburger Charlie” Nagreen actually invented the dish at Wisconsin’s Outagamie County Fair in 1885, and still others claim that the Menches brothers did it at an 1885 fair in Hamburg, N.Y.Regardless of whoever first applied ground meat to bread, today the burger is one of the most beloved, comforting foods in existence. You could actually argue that the cult of the burger has never been stronger.

New and long-beloved regional burger chains you once had to travel to specific states to enjoy have broken out of their regions, events like Burger Bash at the South Beach and New York Food Wine Festivals have made competing for the title of the best burger an annual affair, George Motz’s Hamburger America has done much to popularize and make more known the lesser-known treasures across the country,  and every restaurant nerd knows that high-end chefs have long felt the need to put their own stamp on this American icon (Jose Andres is the latest to take another high-profile turn with it).

This rise in quality and awareness even has put longtime burger barons like Burger King and McDonald’s back on their heels. Burger King has been experimenting with unsuccessful rebrandings (they did away with the King, renamed their French fries “Satisfries,” and changed their motto to “Be Your Way”). McDonald’s has given Ronald a new look and turned to avocados to save them, testing out a new guacamole burger. However, they’re both missing the point that chains like Five Guys, Shake Shack, and Umami Burger have taken advantage of: Americans want quality. They know a great burger, and they’ll see some of the country’s greatest on this inaugural list of the Best Burgers in America.

But what exactly defines the perfect burger?

To answer this question we enlisted none other than Pat LaFrieda, butcher extraordinaire and the creator of some of the meat blends that have gone into making some of the most heralded burgers served in America today, including Shake Shack’s and the legendary Black Label burger served at New York’s Minetta Tavern.

“The perfect burger, in my view, is one that satisfies what I am hungry for at that moment,” he told us.

And thankfully, there are plenty of different varieties of burgers around: There are the inch or so-thick patties that drip juice down your arm and give you that “rare beef buzz,” according to LaFrieda, with “a beautiful sear on the exterior, and a bright red, yet warm center,” like the one found at New York’s Spotted Pig.

Next up are the “smash burgers,” sometimes called fast-food style burgers, thin patties cooked on a griddle that get an ample crust and are “stomach pleasers, fast and effective,” according to Pat, like the one he created for Shake Shack. Finally, there’s what LaFrieda calls the “aged steak in a burger experience,” masterpieces that raise the humble burger to fine-dining status, the best-known most likely being the aforementioned Black Label, which sells for $28.

In order to compile our ranking, we assembled a list of nearly 200 burgers from all across the country, from Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Hillsboro, Oregon. Building upon last year’s suggestions from authorities including John T. Edge and Josh Ozersky, we combed existing best-of lists both print and online, dug through online reviews, and left no stone (bun?) unturned. Even though each of the burgers we found was unique, certain qualities were universal: high-quality beef, proper seasoning, well-proportioned components, and an overall attention to detail that many would call “making it with love.”

In order to keep the playing field even, we didn’t include chains that have expanded outside of their home cities and have lots of locations, meaning that chains like Shake Shack and In-n-Out will be left for another day’s ranking.

We compiled a survey which was then taken by a panel of 50 noted writers, journalists, bloggers, and culinary authorities from across the country, asking them to vote for their favorites, limited to the ones that they’ve tried.

We then divided these burgers up by region, and compiled a survey which was then taken by a panel of 50 noted writers, journalists, bloggers, and culinary authorities from across the country, asking them to vote for their favorites, limited to the ones that they’ve tried. We tallied the results, and the burgers that received the most votes are the ones you’ll find here today.

So read on to take a tour of the U.S. through the lens of its best burgers. We’ll let the great Pat LaFrieda get the last word:

“Americans love burgers because we see them as something that our country has pioneered. They are inexpensive, they fill our bellies, and most importantly, they carry a link back to a memory of comfort and safety at some point in our lives. That all equals fun in eating, making it no longer a comfort food, but instead an American pastime.”

  • 1.nbspKuma Burger, Kuma’s Corner, Chicago


    It’s the sign of a great food city when you can find two crazy restaurant waits within three blocks of each other. So it is in the case of Hot Doug’s (closing later this year) and Kuma’s Corner, some would argue Chicago’s best hot dog and burger joints. It’s not a quiet place to eat — the restaurant’s ethos is “Support your community. Eat beef. Bang your head.” But with all the pyrotechnics that go off when you take a bite, the heavy metal doesn’t just make sense, it’s a perfect fit. There are burgers with tomatillo salsa and fried chiles, burgers with Sriracha and grilled pineapple, but if you have to choose just one, go for the signature, the Kuma Burger: bacon, sharp Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a fried egg. It’s not as though there’s not enough flavor in the burger, but that egg… whoah. It’s nothing short of burger perfection, and it’s the best burger in America.

  • 2.nbspLuger Burger, Peter Luger, Brooklyn, N.Y.


    Because of this burger’s location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and its lunch-only appearance on the menu, out-of-town visitors are likely to have an easier time than New Yorkers experiencing New York City’s best burger. There are no bells and whistles, but Peter Luger has been handling meat since 1887 and its rich, ½-pound Luger Burger made from porterhouse and prime chuck roll trimmings is worth New Yorkers figuring out how to sneak out of the office for a long lunch. Burgers are molded into a coffee cup, emptied onto the high-temperature broilers used for the restaurant’s steaks until they develop a dark crust, and then settled into a sesame-studded bun. For a few dollars more you can have cheese and thick-cut bacon, a bit more of a chewy affair, but either way, if the famed gruff waitstaff unsettled you when you sat down, you’ll have forgotten them after the first bite. Just make sure to arrive before 3:45 p.m. when they stop serving it.

  • 3.nbspBlack Label Burger, Minetta Tavern, New York, NY

    Sylvia Paret

    Sure, the côte de boeuf, roasted bone marrow, and various ungodly delicious potato renditions are big reasons why Minetta Tavern was called the city’s best steakhouse and awarded three stars by The New York Times. But no less the stuff of legend is the Black Label Burger. Prime dry-aged beef sourced and aged for six to seven weeks by Pat LaFrieda is well seasoned and cooked on a plancha with clarified butter, developing a glorious exterior. The fussed-over burger is nestled onto a sesame-studded brioche bun designed specifically for it, topped with caramelized onions and served with pommes frites. Juicy, funky, salty, soul-satisfying, these words lose meaning in the presence of a burger this good. Minetta is a bit of a scene, and it’s going to cost you $28, but if you consider yourself a lover and connoisseur of the country’s best burgers and you have yet to make this pilgrimage, you better get moving.

  • 4.nbspThe Father’s Office Burger, Father’s Office, Los Angeles

    Father’s Office

    What do you get when you go to Father’s Office, chef Sang Yoon’s gastropub in Los Angeles (now in both Santa Monica and Culver City)? No table service. And no pretention. There’s a wood-paneled, comfortable vibe of a great local lived-in spot, but it’s clean, to the point, and one of The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants of 2012. There are great craft beers and small bites (think smoked eel, sobrasada, Spanish mushrooms, and white anchovies). You can also “Eat Big” and opt for the spicy oatmeal stout ribs or the bistro steak. But let’s face it, you’re there for the Office Burger, which many people in LA refer to as the city’s best burger. There’s nothing bougie or frou-frou about it, just caramelized onion, bacon, Gruyère, Maytag Blue, and arugula. It’s a very, very juicy burger with funk, freshness, and great flavor. Checklist item? You bet.

  • 5.nbspGreen Chile Cheeseburger, Santa Fe Bite, Santa Fe, N.M.

    Flickr/Marshall Astor

    Down the Old Las Vegas Highway (the original Route 66), the green chile cheeseburger served at Bobcat Bite, founded by Mitzi Panzer in 1953, has been hailed by Hamburger America’s George Motz, Roadfood’s Jane and Michael Stern, Food Network, and even Bon Appétit as not only the zenith of green chile cheeseburgers, but perhaps one of the greatest burgers, period, in the country. A recent dispute between the Panzer family and John and Bonnie Eckre, who took it over 12 years ago, forced the Eckres to move to a new location on Old Santa Fe Trail and adopt a new name, Santa Fe Bite, but the restaurant’s legendary ginormous burgers — 10-ounce house-ground, boneless chuck patties cooked to temperature preference and blanketed with green chiles under white American cheese on huge, ciabatta-like buns — remain. And for that we should be very thankful.

  • 6.nbspBuild-Your-Own Burger, Burger Bar, Las Vegas

    Flickr/Eat This Beef

    Known as “the other Keller” (besides Thomas, obviously) to fine-dining enthusiasts who have long enjoyed his exquisitely crafted modern French food at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and to the Las Vegas dining public for having created a $5,000 hamburger at his Fleur in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Hubert Keller is an accomplished Alsatian-born chef who has lately established a reputation for producing sensibly priced burgers of great quality at his Burger Bar (with additional locations in San Francisco and Beijing). The basic burger here is certified Angus beef on a plump bun with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and dill pickle, but the menu allows extravagant customization, offering roughly 50 accoutrements including such diverse add-ons as coleslaw, black truffles, smoked Gouda, jalapeño bacon, guacamole, and shrimp.

  • 7.nbspDouble Cheeseburger, Holeman Finch Public House, Atlanta

    Flickr/ Christopher Octa

    Every night at 10 p.m. on the dot, 24 burgers emerge from the kitchen at Holeman Finch Public House, and that’s it. Even though they’re not listed on the menu, these burgers are often spoken for well in advance (they can be reserved at any point during service), and for good reason. Each double-patty burger of fresh-ground grass-fed chuck and brisket comes topped with American cheese, pickles, onions, and homemade ketchup, and is served on a toasted house-baked bun alongside fresh-cut fries. Chef Linton Hopkins (who developed this burger while he was battling cancer; it’s the only food he didn’t lose his taste for) chose to offer this burger on such a limited basis in order to let the other items on his menu get their due, but if you’d prefer not to take your chances you can also try it on Sundays, when it’s featured on their brunch menu. We suggest it; it’s one of the best burgers in existence.

  • 8.nbspBash Style, Burger Barrel, New York, NY


    “Bash Style,” for the uninitiated, means onion and bacon jam, pickles, American cheese, special sauce, and most importantly, a killer blend of meat cooked medium-rare by chef Josh Capon and his team. These are the foundation of what you could argue has become unparalleled burger greatness: Capon’s clubby SoHo spot is a veteran winner of Burger Bash, the marquee event of the South Beach and New York City Wine Food Festivals, having claimed the title four times in five years.

  • 9.nbspThe Original Burger, Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, Conn.


    Sigh. Deep breath. A conversation about Louis’ Lunch is never simple. Is it the birthplace of the hamburger? Supposedly, one day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly told proprietor Louis Lassen “he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run” resulting in a blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast being sent with the gentleman on his way. But is it a “burger,” or is it a “sandwich”? Some argue that historically and semiotically speaking, the “original burger” is a sandwich and not a hamburger because a hamburger is technically a ground-beef patty on some form of yeast bun. It’s a smart conversation, one it would be fun to get Chicago’s deep-dish lovers to take on (theirs is a casserole, not a pizza). But because of the “it’s a burger” answer that comes from 99.995 percent who answer the “what-is-this” question, and because, well, give us a break, it’s a place in the pantheon of hamburger sandwiches (how is a burger not a sandwich anyway?), Louis’ Lunch made this list.

    Sandwich, hamburger, whatever. So what do you get? A flame-broiled burger made in a vertical hinged-steel wire gridiron that cooks the burgers on both sides at the same time. That’s what. It’s a hamburger sandwich supposedly made from a blend of five cuts of ground steak. If you want condiments, you’ll have to ask. The extent that your burger is going to get tricked out is cheese, tomato, and onion. No mustard, ketchup, or mayo. But do you really need all that? You can practically taste the nostalgia. And that never disappoints.

  • 10.nbspHickoryburger, The Apple Pan, Los Angeles


    This standalone counter-only burger-and-pie place in West Los Angeles hasn’t changed since it opened in 1947 (well, except for the prices). The Apple Pan’s signature Hickoryburger is a juicy round of hickory-smoke-infused ground beef on a reasonably standard bun anointed with mayonnaise and a secret sauce that tastes like slightly spiced-up ketchup. Pickles and lettuce complete the package, with Tillamook Cheddar melted on top for an extra 50 cents.

    See more of the country’s best burgers.

    More from The Daily Meal

    America’s Top 10 Fast Food Burgers

    10 Regional Burger Chains That We Wish Were National

    World’s 30 Best Ice Cream Parlors

    101 Best Pizzas in America


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Jun 15, 2014
Terri Judson

Montana ski areas offer a range of summer activities

The snow has all but melted from Montana’s ski areas, making way for a new season of fun.

Many of Montana’s ski resorts don’t close for the summer, instead offering a range of summer activities from mountain biking to zip lines to golf.

Whitefish Mountain Resort kicked off its summer season yesterday.

“Summer days are spectacular here in northwest Montana,” Whitefish Mountain Resort president Dan Graves said. “There’s a long list of fun ways to experience the mountain.”

That list includes an alpine slide, zip lines, an aerial adventure park and nearly 30 miles of lift-served mountain biking.

Big Sky Resort also has a full lineup of summer activities.

New this year, the ski resort will run two lifts during the summer. In addition to running the Swift Current lift, as Big Sky has for many summers, the ski area will also run its Explorer Chairlift.

The Explorer will service a new beginner mountain biking trail, while the Swift Current lift will continue to serve downhill mountain biking trails for intermediate and advanced riders.

With the integration of Big Sky and Moonlight, Big Sky also will offer mountain bike trails on the Moonlight side of the mountain.

Whitefish Mountain added five new mountain bike trails last summer that will be open again this summer. That brings the total number of bike trails at Whitefish to 13 lift-accessed trails and eight cross-country trails.

Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg is offering mountain biking for the first time this summer. The Discovery Bike Park is a challenging course designed for experienced mountain bikers that will drop riders approximately 1,050 vertical feet on the backside of Rumsey Mountain. It features wall rides, bridges, jumps, logs and drops. Even the most advanced riders will find it challenging, according to the ski area.

The Discovery Bike Park is accessed from Montana Highway 1 via Old Sawmill Gulch Road.

The two most popular summer activities at Whitefish are the zip line tours and the aerial adventure park, said Whitefish spokeswoman Christina “Riely” Polumbus.

“The Aerial adventure park is like an obstacle course in the trees,” she said.

Participants get a harness, a short training course, and then have the opportunity to work their way through five different courses.

“You go at your own pace,” Polumbus said. “It’s kind of like a challenge course. It definitely gets people to push their limits.”

Whitefish also offers a five- or seven- zip line tour, both of which offer an exhilarating experience and great views.

Last summer Big Sky Resort added an adventure zip line tour that spans 1,500 feet in zip lines between four towers. Big Sky continues to offer its nature zip line, consisting of three zip lines ranging from 350 to 500 feet in length.

Also popular at Big Sky is its high ropes course where participants are suspended 20 to 30 feet above the ground while encountering obstacles.

Big Sky offers scenic chairlift rides, and visitors also can take the tram to the top of Lone Peak for a view of three states and two national parks.

Big Sky offers a long list of special events throughout the summer, ranging from wine festivals to concerts and races.

Go explore

For more information on summer activities at Big Sky Resort, visit

For more information on summer activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort, visit

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Jun 14, 2014
Terri Judson

Food and wine events beckon festival-goers in the summer

The sun shines brightly, and temperatures climb toward triple digits, during the summer months. But that doesn’t stop food and wine lovers from taking in many of the great outdoor festivals that take place in Hampton Roads. Last week we gave you family festivals. This week, it’s adults only with a few selected wine fests to put on your list.

Summer Celebration Wine Festival, June 14

Held on the grounds of Lee Hall Mansion in northern Newport News, this annual festival features Virginia’s wineries, food, arts and crafters, and music this year by the Rhythm Kings and Joe’s Day Off.

Wineries pouring that day include Bright Meadows Farm, Byrd Cellars, Fincastle Vineyard Winery, Horton Vineyards, Huntington Creek Vineyards, Lake Anna Winery, Lazy Days Winery, Mattaponi Winery, Naked Mountain Winery, Notaviva Vineyard, Sans Soucy Vineyards, Saude Creek Vineyards, Tomahawk Mill Winery and Montdomaine.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate, $10 for non-tasting tickets, and they’re available at many area wine and cheese shops. This is a no-pets event.

Lee Hall Mansion. 163 Yorktown Road, Newport News. 757-888-3371.

Bayou Boogaloo Cajun Food Festival, June 19-22

Town Point Park along the Norfolk riverfront turns into Cajun country at this annual tribute to the food and music of Louisiana. Two stages feature national recording artists from New Orleans, and the Arts Market of New Orleans brings 21 artists picked by The Arts Council of New Orleans and Norfolk Festevents.

Cajun foods to be enjoyed include crawfish, jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, alligator, muffuletta, andouille, and beignets. Wash it down with several non-alcoholic beverages plus beers from New Orleans’ Abita Brewing Co. and Southern Comfort Hurricanes.

Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Activities Thursday and noon to 4 p.m. Friday are free; the rest of the weekend is a ticketed event.

Tickets are $20 for three days, $10 daily admission. 757-441-2345.

PFAC BBQ Art Auction, June 21

This one’s a little pricey but for a good cause. The Peninsula Fine Arts Center hosts its fifth annual barbecue and art auction with part of the proceeds supporting the Healing Arts program, a collaboration of the center and Eastern Virginia Medical School that provides art therapy for armed services veterans.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m., with a live auction at 7 p.m. followed by dinner and dancing. Guests will chow down on barbecue from Smoke BBQ Restaurant Bar, spiked Firefly Southern Sweet Tea and the music of Mixed Company.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door, $60 VIP tickets.

Peninsula Fine Arts Center. 101 Museum Drive, Newport News. 757-596-8175.

Summer Brewfest, July 11

Relax at the TowneBank Fountain Park in Norfolk’s Town Point Park and sample a variety of summer beers from local, regional, national and international breweries. Admission is free, but beer sampling tickets will be available for purchase.

Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Town Point Park. Downtown Norfolk. 757-441-2345.

David Nicholson can be reached at 757-247-4794.

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Jun 13, 2014
Terri Judson

Downtown hotel gets a sugar rush

Tim and Ronnie Wyatt. Photo by Michael Thompson.

Tim and Ronnie Wyatt

For the second location of their sweets shop, a husband-and-wife team is heading north from Stony Point.

Ronnie and Tim Wyatt plan to open a new Pecan Jacks in the Omni Hotel at 100 S. 12th St. next month.

The Wyatts signed a five-year lease for the 891-square-foot Omni space next to Starbucks. The new location will be accessible through the Omni lobby or through the storefront on East Cary Street.

Matthew Mullet of the Shockoe Company helped the Wyatts find the location.

Pecan Jacks sells pralines, pecan brittle, chocolates and other sweets, much of it made in the store.

Pecan Jack's Stony Point location opened in Photo by Michael Thompson.

Pecan Jacks offers pralines flavored with rum, bourbon and spices. Photo by Michael Thompson.

The Wyatts started in 2010 selling pralines mixed with spirits at food and wine festivals. At the time, they were struggling to keep their decades-old printing business alive, which had taken hit with the economic downturn.

“We wanted to try something different,” Ronnie Wyatt said. “We’d always sell (candy) to family and friends, and it took off from there.”

In 2011, they opened a 1,700-square-foot shop and production facility at Stony Point Fashion Park. The Wyatts sold their printing company the next year, and now make between 400 and 500 pralines daily inside their store. Tim Wyatt said mixing in various sorts of liquor with pralines doesn’t just make them taste good. Spirits also act as a preservative, keeping the praline fresh for weeks.

Despite some recent store closings at the Southside mall, the Wyatts are pleased with their experience.

“From our perspective, it’s really good,” Ronnie Wyatt said of Stony Point. “We feel the foot traffic is good.”

The move downtown is Pecan Jacks second attempt at expansion. It opened a store in Norfolk in 2012, but closed it a year later.

“It just wasn’t good fit for us,” Ronnie Wyatt said.

The company has three employees – two of them are family – and is hiring two more. Ronnie Wyatt would not say how much the company is spending to get the Omni storefront up and running.

Ronnie Wyatt said the company did $380,000 in online, mobile and retail sales last year.

Photo by Michael Thompson

Pecan Jacks also sells their sweets online. A box of six pralines goes for $15. Photo by Michael Thompson.

The downtown shop will be smaller than the Stony Point store, but the Wyatts see the new location as a chance to fine tune their operations.

“We decided to open a smaller store to hone our skills on scaling the business so that we can decide if we want to open more locations and franchise,” Ronnie Wyatt said.

Wyatt said eventually she and her husband would like to take their brand of sweets into other historic cities along the East Coast like Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. She said historic districts are where most of Pecan Jacks competitors operate.

Ronnie Wyatt said the company is launching a more sophisticated website in the fall and may be expanding in Stony Point.

“Next year we will look at moving to a larger space at Stony Point to create a large candy kitchen,” she said.

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Jun 13, 2014
Terri Judson

The Town of Epic Party’s Is Holding a Wine Festival

Nax Vegas is holding its first ever Wine Festival at Club Samba Kitoko courtesy of Hero Radio.

Since past centuries wine festivals are usually annual celebrations which occurs after grapes are harvested. But in Nakuru, everything goes and for this reason and the fact that we are a partying lot, Hero Radio have put this event together for you and I dear Kenyans.

If you have partied in Nakuru before, you know the rave events are usually epic. If you’ve never partied there before, don’t sweat, you’ll fit in just right.

So this Friday, grab your booty shorts and comfy shoes and get ready to usher in the weekend on a high note. With Dj Lean. Dj Sam DjSpykx on the decks, this night will be off the hook!

Entry is free for ladies before 9pm a special offer of a bottle of wine at 1000/=

Club Samba Kitoko is located in Nakuru, Kenyatta Avenue St. Cr10023

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Jun 12, 2014
Terri Judson

Save The Date! Nax Vegas Wine Festival Said To Be Epic

Nax Vegas is holding its first ever Wine Festival at Club Samba Kitoko courtesy of Hero Radio.

Since past centuries wine festivals are usually annual celebrations which occurs after grapes are harvested. But in Nakuru, everything goes and for this reason and the fact that we are a partying lot, Hero Radio have put this event together for you and I dear Kenyans.

If you have partied in Nakuru before, you know the rave events are usually epic. If you’ve never partied there before, don’t sweat, you’ll fit in just right.

So this Friday, grab your booty shorts and comfy shoes and get ready to usher in the weekend on a high note. With Dj Lean. Dj Sam DjSpykx on the decks, this night will be off the hook!

Entry is free for ladies before 9pm a special offer of a bottle of wine at 1000/=

Club Samba Kitoko is located in Nakuru, Kenyatta Avenue St. Cr10023

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Jun 12, 2014
Terri Judson

This Weekend’s Nashville Wine and Food Festival Is Gonna Be a Winner

Nashville-Food-and-Wine_Main_title.pngWhile this fall’s Music City Food + Wine festival seems to be getting a lot of buzz and should prove to be a rockin’ good time, local food and wine enthusiasts should definitely not miss out on the opportunities offered by this weekend’s Nashville Wine and Food Festival sponsored by Midtown Wine and Spirits.

The event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. this Saturday, June 14 at Riverfront Park, and I don’t think most folks realize the scale of what’s being set up down there. There will be 34 different tents featuring multiple wines from each presenter. A nice option that isn’t available at most wine tasting festivals is this handy dandy guidebook which will allow you to take notes on each wine you try and then actually order bottles for pickup at Midtown later. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to remember exactly which wines out of multiple tastings that I promised myself that I would buy the next time I was in a wine shop. Yeah, that never works out …

There will be plenty of food as well, with The Farm House and Olive and Sinclair feeding those attendees who ante up for the VIP tent. For the rest of us, there’s no reason to leave hungry, since food will be provided to the masses by Holland House, Rumours East, Watermark, Antica, Two Bits, The Vinegaroon, Music City Tippler, the Corner Pub, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, The Nashville Jam Company and The International Culinary School.

The festival also features a beer garden and a mixology tent, just in case all those wines aren’t your thing. Probably most exciting is the series of educational seminars taking place in the demo tent. The Porter Road Butcher boys will demo whole-hog butchery at 12:15, so if you’re squeamish you might want to spend that half-hour in the wine tents. Laurie Foster will present her comic take on wine snobbery at 1:30, and Chef Andrew Little from Josephine will give his advice on how to shop your way around a farmers market at 2:30. Mixologist Doug Monroe from Patterson House will share the skinny on bitters at 2:30 in the mixology tent, and the seminars wrap up with Lisa Mays teaching the art of paella-making at 3:30.

Tickets for the Nashville Wine and Food Festival, which benefits Team Hunt and Hospital Hospitality House of Nashville, are (surprisingly) still available at the event website. At $75 for general admission and fifty bucks more for VIP status, the day of eating and drinking costs about the same as a nice dinner out plus wine, except you’ll have a lot more choices of food and wine at Riverfront Park than at your normal restaurant menu.

Jump on those remaining tickets, people!

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Jun 12, 2014
Terri Judson

Pennsylvania Wine & Food Festival returns to Monroeville – Tribune

Ken Starr, owner of Starr Hill Vineyard Winery, is a third-generation winemaker who participates in more than 50 wine festivals each year.

With that experience to give him knowledge of what makes a successful festival, he teamed up with Kelly Simon of Kelly Simon Event Management to create the first, and now second, Pennsylvania Wine Food Festival at the Monroeville Convention Center.

This year’s event is Saturday.

“I think what the Pittsburgh area really needs is a real big wine festival, and that’s our goal,â€� said Starr, 50, of Pike Township, Clearfield County, where his winery is based. “As far as ticket sales and wine sales go for us, it was a successful event last year, and that merited another one to promote wines throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.â€�

Simon, 52, of Greensburg said that more than 600 people attended last year’s event and that their goal is attracting 1,000 wine lovers this year.

While the event’s main attraction might be the wine, the festival also will feature more vendors of food and other items than last year’s.

The organizers have made a few changes they hope will attract more people, and they think a key adjustment is moving up the time of the festival. Last year’s inaugural Pennsylvania Wine Food Festival was held in September, but they moved up this year’s event to June.

“We wanted to do it in June last year, but we couldn’t get dates at the convention center,â€� Simon said. “When it opened up this June, we took it immediately.â€�

The earlier date occurs just before Father’s Day and close to the Fourth of July and happens at a time when more people might want to buy wine.

“It’s a perfect time,â€� said Cynthia Helinski, the chief financial officer of Greenhouse Winery in Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County. “It’s a very busy month for wine festivals. September is good, but in the early spring, people really want to get out and do something fun.â€�

Simon and Starr also decided to elongate the one-day event instead of having it broken up by separate sessions. While last year’s event lasted a combined five hours between two sessions, this year’s event will go from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

They also increased the number of wineries that will be represented from 12 to 15, all of which are based in Pennsylvania and will provide free wine samples.

The Greenhouse Winery is returning from last year’s festival.

“It was very successful for us last year because they were very well organized,� said Helinski, 50, of Sewickley Township.

She said she is looking forward to the second festival.

“The first one was really good, so when that’s good, you anticipate the second annual one to get better,â€� Helinski said.

Organizers said there will be new food vendors at this year’s festival, too.

Dave Kittey of Kittey’s Pizzelles Cookies, based in Latrobe, will have 15 types of pizzelles, a small variety of biscotti and 15 kinds of other cookies at the festival. He said it’s the first time he’ll be a food vendor at a wine festival.

“We had never considered doing shows like this because I work on the weekends,� said Kittey, 55, of Latrobe. “They reached out to us, and when we learned more, we really wanted to do it. We can really get outside of our area and reach a bigger audience.�

This year, there will be 75 exhibitors, compared to 52 last year, and two bands will be at the event.

The Bricks, a local acoustic band, will play from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. As of June 6, organizers had not chosen a local band to perform during the second half of the festival.

Individual tickets may be purchased for $20 by Friday by calling 800-747-5599, and two tickets may be purchased for $35. Prices for tickets increase to $25 per individual and $45 per a pair if bought at the door. The ticket includes commemorative wine glass and unlimited wine samples. Admission for designated drivers is $10.

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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