If you’re unsure of whether to pair The Balkan’s ouzo prawns with Banff Avenue Brewing’s IPA or Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery’s Gewürztraminer – it doesn’t matter.
With more than a dozen food emporiums and more than 100 wineries from around the world, the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival will allow you to make any pairing your little heart desires.
The fourth annual event, which is hosted in a Grand Tasting Hall at the Fairmont Banff Springs and sponsored by Banff Lake Louise Tourism, May 13-14, has grown each year of its existence and the 2011 version is no different.
“Exhibitor participation is up about 20 per cent this year,” said Festival Director Cathy Miller. “We’ll likely have a similar increase in attendance too.” In fact, the Saturday evening event is already sold out.
Along with the eateries and wineries which will be on-site at the Springs, there will be more than a dozen side events around town and three after parties.
“We have wine and spirits from around the world,” said Miller, “and a lot of agencies use it as a platform to announce new products. We have wineries from 14 countries, Scotch and whiskey from the U.K., imported and micro-brewed beer, a sparkling vodka from the U.K., and this year, even a smoked salmon-flavoured vodka from Alaska.”
New additions this year are The Balkan, Bear Street Tavern, Banff Avenue Brewing, Nesters Food Market and Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, among others. All festival food providers are from Banff.
New are B.C. wineries Gray Monk, Sumac Ridge and Dirty Laundry, while others will represent Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand, Georgia, Greece, Portugal…
“There will be fruity wines, reds and whites, port and sparkling wines,” said Miller. “We try to make the festival something where everybody will have their palette pleased.”
An entry ticket is $24, then sampling tickets can be purchased which allows for tasting of beverages and appetizer-sized plates. Everything from mini burgers to lobster rolls will be available, including non-alcoholic beverages.
“There is something for every taste and budget; for the sweet tooth and for the savoury tooth,” said Miller. “The chefs get pretty creative and we’ll have everything from beef carpaccio to lamb pops.”
Last year, the average festival attendee (3,600 attended) spent $25 on sampling tickets, said Miller. “But some spend more, some less. Some people look at the festival as a chance to try expensive products they might not try otherwise at full price. You can try a $60 bottle of wine for two or three dollars.”
Last year, said Miller, about one-quarter of those who attended were from the Bow Valley. Accommodation packages in relation to the festival are also available, said Miller, for those who plan ahead.
“Some people plan and buy tickets two months in advance, while many just walk up to the door and take it all in.”
For tickets or more on all aspects of the wine and food festival, visit www.rockymountainwine.com