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Welcome to WINExpo

Article Published: Nov. 8, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 18, 2012
Welcome to WINExpo

From right, Sue Ivey pours Sarah Durham a sample at 2011’s wine-tasting event.
Photos by Frank Ruggiero

In many circles, wine is considered an art.

But seldom is it installed in a gallery – until now.

WINExpo, Peabody’s 34th Anniversary Charity Wine Tasting Event, is coming to the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone Saturday, Nov. 17, uncorking a tasteful combination of fine wines, gourmet foods and international art.

What else can patrons expect?

“I wish I knew,” said Jeff Collins, co-owner of Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants, “but the new venue is definitely the big deal.”

Traditionally, the popular tasting event has taken place at Appalachian State University’s Broyhill Inn & Conference Center, which has since been closed to non-university functions.

Once the last drop was poured at 2011’s expo, Collins and company set their sights on alternative locations. The Turchin Center, he said, seems the perfect fit.

“We’ll be using multiple rooms instead of the big, wide space of the Broyhill, and with the artwork that’s going to be in there, it’s going to be so visually appealing,” Collins said, adding that the tasting will take place in the center’s three main galleries, each with its own artwork and live music, the latter of which comes courtesy of DJ Small Wonder, David and Leda Finck of the Forget-Me-Nots and Clif Hicks.

“Every space is going to have its own feel, with different music and different art, with wine and food being served together,” Collins said.

Whereas previous tastings featured wine and food tastings each in their own respective spaces, this year’s event will see both intermingling.

Patrons can also expect a smaller, more intimate setting, Collins said, as the number of tickets has been scaled back from 500 to 300.

“We like a crowd, but not an overcrowd, so we were feeling out 300 as a number for this,” he said. “The Turchin Center’s big opening receptions … have more than 1,000 people come through, so we thought 300 would be a comfortable fit. We want people to have to wait in line for one or two people, but no more than three. So, I think 300 is going to be a great number there, especially divided up among the gallery spaces.”

Another positive, he said, is ample parking in the university’s College Street parking deck and the neighboring Raley lot, both of which will be open to the public.

“I also really like the idea of being downtown,” Collins said. “This will make an average night in downtown Boone a very vibrant night for local businesses afterward. When (the expo) is over at 9:30 p.m., all downtown is within walking distance.”

But a lot can happen before 9:30 p.m., namely the sampling of some 200 wines – local, regional, national and international, in what Collins called “a great representative sample.”

Every attendee will get a tasting book, listing all the wines by table. In addition, Collins said all wines will be bargain-priced through the end of the year, allowing patrons to sample and buy at their leisure.

“So, it’s a really great wine sale, as well,” he said. “Plus, you get to try it all before you buy it.”
Armed with a complimentary keepsake wine glass, tasters can have their pick of the vine. Collins offered a few tips to make sure guests play it safe while making the most of their evening.

“When you get the tasting book, take a minute to look through it,” he said. “Everything listed will be broken down into red, white and bubbly. Flag what wines you’re most interested in … and taste those wines first. And then go with suggestions from your friends or those pouring.”

Distributors will offer a one-ounce pour, and since there are roughly 25 ounces in a typical bottle of wine (and around 200 wines offered at the expo), samples can easily add up.

“You can do the math,” Collins said. “If you try to take your one-ounce taste of every wine there, you’ll end up drinking eight bottles of wine. You don’t have to drink the whole sample. It’s perfectly acceptable to taste and spit. That’s how I do it.”

Patrons should also stay hydrated and avoid tasting on an empty stomach. The latter shouldn’t prove much of a problem, considering the generous food offerings from area favorites like The 1861 Farmhouse, The Gamekeeper, Reid’s Catering Co., Casa Rustica, Vidalia, Stick Boy Bread Company, Char, Bistro Roca, Joy Bistro, The Best Cellar, Restaurant G and Art of Oil.

As with previous expos, a portion of the proceeds will benefit a cause, with this year’s donation going to the Turchin Center.

“We’re hoping (the Turchin Center) will be a long-term partner … and that this will become (the expo’s) permanent home,” Collins said. “It’s such a nice space.”

Once again, the dress code is “mountain formal,” he said, meaning “wear whatever you want to,” although most guests choose the dressier side.

WINExpo takes place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at ASU’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, located at 423 W. King St. in downtown Boone. Tickets cost $50 and are only available at Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants, located at 1104 N.C. 105 South. For more information or to reserve tickets, call (828) 264-9476.

Additional Images

From right, Sue Ivey pours Sarah Durham a sample at 2011’s wine-tasting event.
Photos by Frank Ruggiero

From left, Peabody’s Kevin Burnette, Greg Parsons and Jeff Collins are bringing this year’s charity wine-tasting event to the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Nov. 17.

From left, Vidalia’s Sam and Alyce Ratchford serve John Mena a sample at the 2011 event.

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