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By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Apr. 4, 2013 | Modified: Apr. 15, 2013

The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival's Grand Wine Tasting offers visitors the chance to sample a wide variety of wines from North Carolina and beyond.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Folks in the High Country are enjoying the big thaw from what has seemed like a yearlong winter.

Ghostly pale legs and arms are a frequent sight these days, as we peel off several layers of winter clothing and enjoy the sunshine.

Simply put, we’re ready to trade our cabin fever for spring fever and do a little partying.
One of the biggest parties of the year will be held next week when Blowing Rock hosts the annual Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever with several new events and a host of new sponsors.

Presented by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Ridge Wine and Food festival is a celebration of all things tasty and includes wine dinners, an opening “Uncork the Festival” get together, “Grillin’ and Chillin’” with live music by The Graybyrds, wine and food seminars, the Fire on the Rock Chef’s Challenge, the Grand Wine Tasting, the inaugural Corkscrew 5K road race, champagne brunches, and more.

Fire on the Rock

This year, for the first time, the Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge is divided between restaurants in the Asheville area and restaurants in the High Country.

The first round of the four Fire on the Rock dinners in the Blowing Rock series will take place during the week of the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival, Monday through Thursday, April 8-11.

Each evening at the Meadowbrook Inn, two chefs and their teams will face off in the “Got to Be NC” Competition Dining Series event. Utilizing a secret ingredient that was revealed to them at noon that day, the chef teams try to create three superb dishes. At that evening’s dinner service, customers decide who has created the best dishes — without knowing which team created them.

Hosted by Fire on the Rock founder and former Blowing Rock restaurateur Jimmy Crippen, Fire on the Rock dinners celebrated as being fun, exciting and supremely tasty.

For reservations, call the Meadowbrook Inn at (828) 295-4300.

Winemakers’ Dinners

A highlight of the festival since its inception is the Winemakers’ Dinner. Hosted by a number of restaurants in Blowing Rock, Valle Crucis and Boone, each dinner matches a selection of wines from a particular vineyard with courses from that particular restaurant.

This year’s dinners include “The Best Cellar presents Alaska Seafood” (Wednesday), Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort presents “Wine Flights” (Friday and Saturday), The Table at Crestwood (Friday), Vidalia, featuring Hanover Park Vineyard (Friday), Gamekeeper Restaurant, featuring Vineyard 59 Imports (Friday), Twigs, featuring Davis Wine Importers (Friday), The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant and Winery (Friday), Vidalia, featuring Shelton Vineyards (Saturday), The Chestnut Grille at Green Park Inn presents “The Great Green Park Gatsby Party,” featuring Robert Baile Winery (Saturday), and Gideon Ridge featuring Robert Craig Winery.

On Sunday, Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub will host a special Sunday Beer Brunch Crab Boil.
During the festival, Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor will feature salmon from Alaska smoked on the restaurant’s smoker in Blowing Rock.

Uncork! the Festival

Uncork! the Festival is a culinary delight of Alaska seafood and other fresh meats, fruits and veggies served under the Grand Tasting Tent with some very special reserve wines not offered at the Grand Tasting. Uncork! the Festival will also feature foods prepared by some of the finest restaurants in the area, including The Table at Crestwood, Casa Rustica, Char and Makoto’s Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar.

The event takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 11. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. For more information, call (828) 295-7851.

Seminars and Cooking Classes

The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival will host a number of interesting, entertaining and informative wine seminars and cooking classes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 11-13. They are scattered throughout Blowing Rock and feature a number of fun topics. You must be 21 or older to participate in any seminar.

Seminars and cooking classes include “Wine and Chocolate” at the Meadowbrook Inn at 4 p.m. Thursday and at noon Friday, “Wine and Cheese” at the Meadowbrook Inn at 2 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Friday, “Wine and Foods/Spices” at Hillwinds Inn at 3 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Friday, “Riedel Challenge” at the Inn at Ragged Garden” at noon Friday, “Hidden Treasures, Best Values” at Hillwinds Inn at 1 p.m. Friday, “Convert Me! I Want to Buy Local” at the Inn at Ragged Gardens at 2 p.m. Friday, “The Italians” at Hillwinds Inn at 3 p.m. Friday, and “Cooking with Chocolate” at the Green Park Inn at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Grillin’ and Chillin’

North Carolinians take special pride in their barbecue. Alaska is famous for its delicious denizens of the deep.

These culinary skills of both states will be on display at this year’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ event, scheduled to take place under the big tent on Maple Street from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12.

Outside the tent, Morris Hampton, proprietor of Big Mo’s Barbecue, will prepare a whole hog pig-picking with all the fixings. Inside the tent, enjoy delicious seafood from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, as well as a selection of North Carolina wines and craft-made beers.
Grillin’ and Chillin’ will also feature live music by The Graybyrds.

For more information, or tickets, call (828) 295-7851.

Grand Wine Tasting

The centerpiece of the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival is the Grand Wine Tasting, held under the big tent on Maple Street from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 13.

This is your chance to taste a variety of great reds, whites, sparkly and blush wines in a single afternoon. The event will feature a wide assortment of wines from North Carolina wineries, as well as from vineyards around the globe. Light fare will be available, featuring Alaska seafood and much more.

Advance tickets are $35, and tickets the day of the event are $45. To reserve tickets, call (828) 295-7851.

The Grand Wine Tasting is open to adults 21 and older. No infants, children or pets are allowed to enter the tent. Childcare services are available through Chetola Resort’s recreation center. A 24-hour notice is required to secure a babysitter. To reserve a spot, contact Chetola at (828) 295-5535.
Parking for the Grand Wine Tasting will be available at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway, the two downtown parking decks and around town. The Wine Festival Shuttle will make stops at the Grand Wine Tasting tent, in downtown Blowing Rock and Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway.

Other Events

The list of other events in the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival includes a self guided High Country Wine Trail tour that visits four area wineries on Thursday and Friday, a “Cork & Canvas” painting class at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum on Thursday, a coffee tasting at Bald Guy Brew on Saturday, Ensemble Stage’s interactive murder mystery at Meadowbrook Inn on Saturday (adults only), a concert featuring Acoustic Syndicate at Canyons of the Blue Ridge on Saturday and champagne brunches at Canyons and Blowing Rock Grille on Sunday.

The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival is presented by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and is sponsored by and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

For more information, visit, or call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851.

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