Article Published: Apr. 12, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 16, 2012

If you ask 100 wine aficionados what the best wine in the world is, chances are you will get 100 different answers.

That’s one of the great things about enjoying wine: Beauty truly is in the eye and nose and tastebuds of the beholder.

But, alas, life is short. How can one possibly taste all of the great wines of the world in one lifetime? C’est impossible!

Enter the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival.

Having started Wednesday, April 11, and running through Sunday, April 15, the annual festival offers newcomers and afionados alike the chance to uncork some serious fun through a series of tastings, dinners, workshops, music, theater and more.

Uncork! the Festival

For the first time in the history of the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival, “Uncork! the Festival,” the event’s kickoff social gathering, will be held outside of Blowing Rock.

Uncork! the Festival, co-sponsored by The Table at Crestwood and The Gamekeeper Restaurant, will take place at the Inn at Crestwood on Shulls Mill Road at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 12.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

According to organizers, Uncork! the Festival will take visitors on a tour of Ethiopian and South African sights and flavors, using the expertise of area businesses like Climbing the Walls, Events by Elizabeth Ashley, The Gamekeeper, The Table at Crestwood and Wine to Water in a sublime collaboration of floral design, décor, food and wine.

“The atmosphere of Crestwood will be transformed by surrounding guests with the colors, tastes and aromas of these culturally distinct regions,” a festival spokesperosn said. “Palates will come alive with the rich bold flavors of an array of tapas-style food and complimentary tastings of six different wines.”

The event also includes complimentary souvenir wine glasses and live music from Scott Smith. Proceeds will benefit Boone-based nonprofit organization Wine to Water.

For more information, or to make reservations, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851. The Inn at Crestwood is located at 3236 Shulls Mill Road between Boone and Blowing Rock. For directions, visit http://www.crestwoodnc.com.

Wine 101

Due to overwhelming demand, the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival is holding more classes and seminars than ever before.

Fun topics and an easy, laid-back atmosphere make these festival favorites. This year, the festival is scheduling two days of seminars and classes, meaning more options and times for festivalgoers to enjoy. Held across town in several different locations, a class is always close by.

Tickets are sold individually, and seats are limited. People must be at least 21 years of age to participate in any seminar.

For a complete schedule, see our official guide to the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival or visit http://www.blueridgewinefestival.com.

Missing Cats

Missing Cats, featuring Widespread Panic’s John “JoJo” Herman and Sherman Ewing, will perform at Canyons of the Blue Ridge in Blowing Rock on Saturday, April 14, in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival. The show starts at 10 p.m., doors open at 9 p.m., and admission is $15 per person.

Missing Cats combines keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals to create the sounds of New Orleans boogie-woogie and raw, blues-based, original tunes.

Hermann and Ewing met in New York City years before Hermann replaced keyboardist T. Lavitz in Widespread Panic in 1992. The duo began playing the city’s vast club scene in 1983. They later formed the band, Sherman and the Bureaucrats. Later, Hermann moved to Oxford, Miss., and joined the band, Beanland.

For more information, call Canyons at (828) 295-7661. Canyons is located at 8960 Valley Blvd. in Blowing Rock.

Grillin’ and Chillin’

Over the years, the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival has added new wrinkles to keep things fresh and exciting.

This year, the Blue Ridge Mountain Club will present the inaugural Grillin’ and Chillin’ event at the Grand Tasting Tent in the Maple Street parking lot in downtown Blowing Rock.

The event takes place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13, and is limited to 250 people.
The event will feature live music, North Carolina-style barbecue, dessert, North Carolina craft-made beers and, of course, wine.

Attendees will enjoy barbecue pork and chicken, smoked right on the premises, with all of the sides North Carolina barbecue is famous for – baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and all the sweet tea you can drink.

Renowned blues musician Clyde “Pop” Ferguson will serenade diners with his smooth grooves, guitar licks and gruff-yet-lovable vocal stylings.

Tickets for Grillin’ and Chillin’ are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. For more information, or to reserve tickets, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851, or visit http://www.blueridgewinefestival.com.

Teresa Giudice Cooking Demo

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice is joining the 2012 Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival at a special Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Chetola Resort’s Evergreen Room. Tickets are $40 per person.

Giudice’s expertise in authentic Italian cooking led her to success with the publication of her two New York Times bestselling books, “Skinny Italian” and “Fabulicious!: Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook.”
Giudice will release her third cookbook, “Fabulicious: Fast & Fit!” in May 2012.

Initially launched into the spotlight through her participation on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Giudice has delivered high ratings for the series in which she stars with her friends and family.

She has been featured on various magazine covers, including People, Us Weekly, In Touch and Woman’s World. She is also currently participating in the 2012 season of NBC’s Donald Trump-helmed reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice.”

For more information, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851, or visit http://www.blueridgewinefestival.com.

Grand Tasting

The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival’s Grand Wine Tasting offers festivalgoers a way to sample a wide array of wines in one afternoon.

That’s why it is one of the most popular such events in the Southeast.

The 2012 Grand Wine Festival will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. The event takes place under the giant tent on the Maple Street parking lot in downtown Blowing Rock.

Tickets for the Grand Wine Testing are $35 in advance, $45 at the door.

This year, the Grand Wine Tasting will showcase a wide assortment of wines from North Carolina, as well as from vineyards around the globe.

North Carolina wineries participating in the Grand Wine Tasting include Autumn Creek Vineyards, Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery, Banner Elk Winery, Biltmore Estate Winery, Childress Vineyards, Ginger Creek Vineyards, Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery, Grandfather Vineyard, Hanover Park Vineyards, Hinnant Family Vineyards, Junius Lindsay Vineyard, Native Vines Winery, New River Winery, RayLen Vineyards, Raffaldini Vineyards, Shadow Springs Vineyard, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, Thistle Meadow Winery, Waldensian Wines, Woodmill Winery and 1861 Farmhouse.

National and International wineries participating include Altadonna, Artisan, Atamisque, Araucano, Bourgeois Family Selections, Ca’Momi Winery, Catalpa, C.G. Di Aire, Delta Luna, Falcor, Gabrielle, Grayson Cellars, Hermonas Lurton, J. Lohre, Lamplighter, Left Coast, Michael Schlumberger, Montinore Estates, Morande, Napa Cellars, One Hope Wines, Pietro, Reggio, Raptor Ridge Winery, Robert Stemmler, Romona Singer Pinot Grigio, Siefreif Old Coach Road, St. Claire, Tiamo, Villa San-Julliette and Zacardi.

Parking for the Grand Tasting is available at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway, the two downtown parking decks and around town. The Wine Festival shuttle trolley will make stops at the Grand Wine Tasting in downtown Blowing Rock and Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway, so getting back to your vehicle is a breeze.

All attendees of the Grand Wine Tasting must be 21 or older to enter the tent. No infants, children or animals will be allowed under the tent. Childcare services are available through Chetola Resort’s Recreation Center. The cost is $10 an hour plus $2 for each additional child and must be paid in cash. At least a 24-hour notice is required to secure a babysitter. To secure a babysitter, call the recreation center at (828) 295-5535.

‘Murder by the Glass’

Murder and dessert. Does it get much richer than that?

Ensemble Stage will present a special musical murder mystery theater presentation as part of the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival.

The production is titled “Murder by the Glass” and will be presented at Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant on Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.

Tickets are $40 per person and include three wine tastings, bottomless dessert tray, and at least one murder.

“Murder by the Glass” is about four recently widowed women who pool their insurance money resources and purchase Crippen’s in Blowing Rock. Their four unfortunate husbands all died within weeks of each other, and they all died from heart attacks. Was this a morbid coincidence or evidence of foul play?

“Murder by the Glass” is for adults only due to some risqué language.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, call Ensemble Stage at (828) 414-1844, or visit http://www.ensemblestage.com.

Blowing Rock Jazz Society

The Appalachian State University Jazz Band will kick off the Blowing Rock Jazz Society’s 2012 season with a special show in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival. The show takes place at the Meadowbrook Inn from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

The show will feature the ASU School of Music students performing in a small combo and in a big band setting.

Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for all students and free for all Blowing Rock Jazz Society members in good standing.

For more information, or to make reservations, call the Meadowbrook Inn at (828) 295-4300. The Meadowbrook Inn is located at 711 Main St. in Blowing Rock. For more information on the Blowing Rock Jazz Society, visit brjs.blogspot.com.

For more information on the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival, including mor events and a complete and detailed schedule, see our official guide to the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival, available at the festival, or visit http://www.blueridgewinefestival.com.

Winefest Schedule

All Weekend
Barrels of Fun Hunt

Thursday, April 12

Downtown activities and shopping
Pasta & Wine Cooking Class: 2 p.m. at Chetola Resort’s Embers Room
Wine & Chocolate Seminar: 3 p.m. at the Green Park Inn
Flights and Bites: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Bistro Roca
Wine & Cheese Seminar: 4 p.m. at Hillwinds Inn
Uncork the Festival: 6 p.m. at the Table at Crestwood on Shulls Mill Road
Cork & Canvas: 6 to 8 p.m. at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
Winemakers’ and Vintners’ Dinners at The Peddler Steakhouse, Crippen’s Country Inn and Glidewell’s
Bartenders Brawl-Preliminary Rounds: 8:30 p.m. at Canyons

Friday, April 13

Hidden Treasures, Best Value Wine Seminar: 12:30 p.m. at Hillwinds Inn
Reidel Challenge Seminar: 1:30 p.m. at the Inn at Ragged Gardens
Wine & Chocolate Seminar: 2 p.m. at the Green Park Inn
Best Grapes You’ve Never Heard Of Wine Seminar: 2:30 p.m. at Hillwinds Inn
Wine & Food/Spices Seminar: 3 p.m. at the Meadowbrook Inn
Wine & Cheese Seminar: 3:30 at the Meadowbrook Inn
Charlie Ellis Jazz Trio: 6 to 11 p.m. at the Green Park Inn
Bartenders Brawl-Final Round: 9 p.m. at Canyons
Winemakers’ and Vintners’ Dinners at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort, The Laurel Room at the Green Park Inn, The Table at Crestwood, The Gamekeeper Restaurant, Rowland’s at Westglow, Vidalia and Restaurant G at Gideon Ridge

Saturday, April 14

Coffee Cupping Seminar: 9 a.m. at Bald Guy Brew
Celebrity Chef Teresa Giudice: 11 a.m. at Chetola Resort’s Evergreen Room
Cooking with Chocolate Class: 11:30 a.m. at Green Park Inn
Grand Wine Tasting: 2 to 6 p.m. on Maple Street
Charlie Ellis Jazz Trio: 6 to 11 p.m. at the Green Park Inn
VIP Charity Wine Gala: 7 p.m. at the Broyhill Furniture Showroom
100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic Final Dinner: 7 p.m. at the Green Park Inn
Winemakers’ and Vintners’ Dinners at Vidalia
Missing Cats Concert: 9 p.m. at Canyons
Musical Murder Mystery: 10:30 p.m. at Crippen’s

Sunday, April 15

Champagne Brunches: At Blowing Rock Grille, Bistro Roca Canyons and The Porch Swing (call for times)
Blowing Rock Jazz Society Concert: 7 p.m. at the Meadowbrook Inn

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