More than the cultural and creative center of North Carolina, Asheville’s attractions and natural beauty have attracted more than 10 million people in 2016. The city is well-known for its cutting edge culinary institutions and visitors will love Tupelo Honey Cafe, White Duck Taco Shop, and more. You won’t want to miss out on the lush mountain scenery which can be found on the Appalachian Trail, and Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Asheville Wine and Food Festival has been the city’s go-to wine and food event since it began nearly a decade ago, and will take place August 18-19 at Pack Square Park. Attendees will have the chance to sample food, wine, and spirits from around the region and the world. The Grand Tasting will showcase culinary talents from some of Asheville's finest farm-to-table chefs, and patrons will have the opportunity to meet chefs one-on-one after their demonstrations. The event will also feature an International Wine Competition where the French Broad Vignerons will judge wines from around the world. The Sweet and Savory event will introduce patrons to treats from some of the city's top bakeries and restaurants while local entertainers perform live. Proceeds from the event will go to Slow Food Asheville’s Heritage Food Project which aims to cultivate and preserve unique foods that are facing extinction. ResortsandLodges.com got the chance to interview Melissa Mathews, a representative of the event, to learn more about this showcase of Asheville wine and food.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
MM: This is the 9th year of the Asheville Wine and Food Festival.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
MM: Organizers expect between 4,000 – 5,000 attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract?
MM: We see an equal mix of men and women including couples, groups, and singles.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
MM: The festival brings together the best chefs from regional and local restaurants, product manufacturers (food and artisanal items), wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Such a collection of exhibitors allows patrons to meet, sample, and enjoy a broad range of culinary delights in one place.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
MM: This year, the festivities kick off on Friday with Champion Pitmaster Christopher Prieto, from PRIME BBQ. Chris is also an author for Southern Living, a BBQ Instructor for Wounded Warrior Project, and often serves as a master BBQ judge. Then guests may wander over to the Chef Highlight Tent each hour to learn about talented chefs and their food. Between the chef appearances, visit the culinary authors who will be available for book signing. All guests must find the time to visit the Wine Competition Booth and check out the variety of wines for sale. All this while finding time to sample foods from dozens of restaurants, wineries, distilleries and more. On Saturday, you’ll get a chance to do this all again, but this time you get to meet new chefs, authors, foods, and drinks. Remember to save space for desserts and other culinary delights if you are fortunate to grab a ticket for SWEET & SAVORY directly afterward.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?
MM: The Renaissance Hotel has provided reduced rate rooms for early reservations on a first-come, first serve basis.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
MM: Yes, not only do the hotels frequently book to capacity this weekend, but the restaurants receive thousands of additional guests.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
MM: We support non-profits that contribute back to our youth and our local food culture. In 2017, we are supporting Slow Food Asheville and their Heritage Food Project. In past years, we have contributed to FEAST Asheville, Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, The Appalachian Food StoryBank Project, and Eliada Home for Children.
RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?
MM: Yes, but accommodations can be found outside of downtown Asheville and in neighboring towns such as Black Mountain, Weaverville, Arden, and Candler.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
MM: We have a group of women from England that comes each year. This year we have a family of 15 members who scheduled their reunion around the festival. We have people from all over the United States who fly in every year to enjoy the culinary finds, atmosphere, and other trends here in Asheville, an epicurean center of the Appalachian Mountains.
For more information about the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, please visit the event website.