Illustrative of the rising importance of the event, Gourmet magazine has signed on to be an official sponsor this year. According to organizers, the endorsement puts the festival on a national map of wine and food fests, on a par with a select list of similar events across the country. This is no surprise, as the event, which began only seven years ago, now pulls in crowds of over 20,000 people to its two days of tastings and culinary delights. Among its draws is the Wine Tasting Stage, at which attendees can sample wines from dozens of New York and East Coast wineries. Most of these vendors come from vineyards in the Finger Lakes, but there will also be a handful of local wineries on hand, such as Benmarl of Marlboro and Whitecliff of Gardiner. Also on offer are demonstrations by wine producers and wine experts, including wine seminars by Michael Green, a wine and spirits consultant to Gourmet magazine. Green has a background in both beverages and performing arts (including appearances on Emeril Live! and CNN, among other outlets), and organizers laud his presentations that "educate, entertain, and inspire audiences." Among the many seminars are, "New York State of Mind," by Green, and "Smell - a Vision Boot Camp," by Wendy Crispell of Benmarl Winery.
Accompanying the wine is a full array of gourmet foods. Patrons can buy tickets for $1 each, and trade the tickets for tastings of all sorts of dishes prepared by chefs from over fifteen leading area restaurants. Among the participating venues are the Artist's Palate of Poughkeepsie, New World Home Cooking of Woodstock, and Le Canard Enchaine of Kingston. This year, the festival has two different stages set up for cooking demonstrations. Several of the chefs - including Ric Orlando of New World Home cooking - will shine light on their techniques and demonstrate that quick, expert dance that defines inspired meal-making.
Some other perks of the festival include acoustic music for much of both days, and a wine pick-up service, which allows attendees to buy wine throughout the day, have it conveniently stored, and then pick it up before departing the festival grounds. Food concessionaires and vendors will provide plenty of shopping opportunities; cheeses, beers, and handmade art items are among the offerings. The festival also donates a portion of its proceeds to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, the non-profit organization responsible for coordinating all the food pantries and food banks in the region.
The Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival takes place Saturday, September 6, and Sunday, September 7, at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. Saturday's hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday's hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $30 for a one-day tasting ticket and $15 for a one-day non-tasting ticket (for minors and designated drivers). Either admission comes with five food-sampling tickets. The full-weekend tasting ticket costs $50, $25 for non-tasters, and it comes with ten food-sampling tickets. Additional food sampling tickets are available for purchase the day of the event. To find out more about the event, including directions and policies, see its website at hudsonvalleywinefest.com.