The Social Event of the Year
Two-hundred wines and food as far as the eye can
It’s Peabody’s 33rd Anniversary Charity Wine Tasting Expo, and it’s returning to the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center Nov. 5.
“There are a lot of great events in Boone, but I think this is one of the nicest,” said Jeff Collins, co-owner of Boone’s own Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants, which hosts the festival annually. “It’s really eagerly anticipated, people have a great time coming year after year after year, and it supports a great local cause, too.”
Collins is referring to the Watauga Education Foundation, which receives a share of the expo proceeds.
Throw in live music from Asheville-based fusion jazz group A Ghost Like Me and a dress code Collins refers to as “mountain formal,” meaning “wear whatever you want to,” and the expo uncorks an evening to remember – provided you taste responsibly.
“It’s the social event of the year,” Collins said,” a time where people get dressed up and eagerly anticipate it. They’re really looking forward to having a great time, and I really like throwing that great big party, personally.”
Peabody’s wine distributors and area restaurants are Collins expects a slate of 200 wines to be available, spanning the High Country, state, region, nation and overseas. Set in the Helen Powers Grand Ballroom, the wine booths will be arranged alphabetically around the room, meaning the first table is the first listing in the complimentary tasting book.
With attendees receiving a complimentary expo tasting glass, and with each sample averaging one ounce, it’s important to go in prepared.
“Everybody there gets a tasting book,” Collins said. “I recommend taking the first couple minutes there to go through, check off the wines that you’re most interested in, whether it’s a county, a style … go and taste those first. You can always spit or pour the rest. You don’t have to drink everything in your glass. You’ll get one ounce per glass, so if you drink that whole ounce for 25 wines, you’ll be drinking a whole bottle. Go and find your favorites, and don’t be obligated to drink them all. And if you are, have your driver lined up or get a hotel room.”
And the Broyhill Inn is willing to help, featuring a special room rate for that night.
“Make sure you’re eating some food, too,” Collins said.
Restaurants will set up sample-laden booths in the Broyhill’s Alumni Hall, including Casa Rustica, Joy Bistro, Vidalia, Crave, Char, Best Cellar, The Gamekeeper, Stick Boy Bread Company, the Table at Crestwood, Bistro Roca and Restaurant G.
The expo also marks the return of a High Country Tradition. Last year’s saw craft beer enter the fray, and this year’s ups the ante. Highland Brewing Company will attend, as will Olde Hickory Brewery, which is now brewing Peabody’s celebrated Appalachian Ale.
“It’s a recipe that’s been around since 1990,” Collins said. “We came up with that when Cottonwood (Brewing) was still in town.”
Previously brewed by Carolina Brewing in Mooresville, Appalachian Ale has since moved to Olde Hickory.
“Carolina Beer basically got out of the beer business, so (Appalachian Ale) has been out of production for 18 months or so,” Collins said. “I tasted it this morning. It’s back. We’ll even have some in stock this Thursday.”
Like the expo, it’s a tradition Peabody’s is glad to establish in the High Country. The first expo was held 14 years ago for Peabody’s 20th anniversary.
“Peabody’s was getting ready to have its 20th anniversary, and we had done a lot of smaller wine tastings,” Collins said. “So, why not do one, great big tasting and invite all our wine reps for a great big soiree?”
Surprisingly, the expo hasn’t grown in size, though that doesn’t account for popularity.
“We have a maximum of 500 tickets, so it really hasn’t grown,” Collins said. “It’s just improved.
Several years ago, we added restaurants – really top-notch restaurant – and we really just got the event dialed in. A crowd of 500 is ideal. It’s a big enough crowd, quite a party, but not so much where you actually have to wait in line.”
After all, as expo time draws nearer, waiting is the hardest part.
Peabody’s 33rd Anniversary Charity Wine Expo takes place Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center in Boone. Tickets cost $45 and are only available at Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants, located at 1104 N.C. 105 South. For more information, call (828) 264-9476 or visit http://www.peabodyswineandbeer.com.