Cornucopia: Insider’s Guide for the New and Curious
Updated: October 2018
Whistler’s festival of food and drink is on for the 22nd year, getting ready to wow our taste buds from November 8 – 18, 2018 with thanks to BlueShore Financial. As always the 11 days are filled with an abundance of events that run from morning until late at night, ranging from the educational to the adventurous to those that simply encourage indulgence and having a very good time.
With such a diverse array of events on the table, the key to enjoying Cornucopia is finding what piques your palate. To help, The Whistler Insider is running a Cornucopia series to help you create the perfect itinerary – and hopefully encourage you to sample something new.
Today, we’ve got the guide to Cornucopia for the New and Curious with an overview and some must-do events that will give you a taste for the fest:
Of all the events on the calendar, the signature tastings are the most popular. Held under the attractive wooden beams of the Whistler Conference Centre, each evening has a different focus – wine, international flavours, spirits, beer, the best of British Columbia. Tasting stations manned by people passionate about their products encouraging mingling and exploration while music and DJs create a party atmosphere, making these events ideal for large groups of friends. Check out our selection below, or view all the Signature tastings here.
Crush Grand Tasting – Early Entry
Crush is the flagship event of the first weekend of Cornucopia, the tasting event for wine lovers. Red, white, sparkling, icewines, all found under one roof for your sampling pleasure. The early entry allows you to sample before the rush, and the pro tip is to eat before the event – some snacks are provided but a well-lined stomach and savvy sampling are key to tasting as many beverages as possible.
House Party: Best of BC
Local food, domestic wines, spirits and beer plus a grill run by SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar of the Four Seasons Resort Whistler and local DJs. Break out your best plaid shirt and get your tickets early – this mid-week tasting is a favourite with locals and sells out quickly.
Poured Grand Tasting: The Full Spectrum of Taste
The big event of the second weekend of Cornucopia, the Poured Grand Tasting offers one of the most diverse drink lists of the festival. Expect a special selection of BC beer, Canadian ciders and international wines along with music and revelry.
It’s not all mix-and-mingle at Cornucopia. Both the Chef’s Table Luncheons and the Dinners offer opportunities to explore new tastes and speak with the tastemakers – vitners, distillers and chefs – in far more intimate settings. Hosted in Whistler’s top restaurants and private mansions, expect excellent company and memorable menus. The following is a just a sample – be sure to explore all the lunch and dinner options.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Small Farms
Discover some of the finest BC wines, featuring wines from Synchromesh and Anarchist – discover how hard work, dedication and terroir shape the wines. This dinner is a must! Gathering in the intimate and private dining room of Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Grill Room.
Chef’s Table Luncheon: The Salted Vine
The award-winning Salted Vine team return to Cornucopia again this year to present a delicious multi-course, farm-to-table menu paired with top-shelf wines from British Columbia and beyond.
Taste and Learn
One of the neatest things about Cornucopia is the chance to learn more about the world of food and drink – this festival isn’t just about consuming, it’s about choices and creativity too. Food sources and trends, the latest techniques in preparation and plating are all discussed while smaller tasting events dedicated to specialty spirits or wines from a particular region allow you to develop your palate under the guidance of industry professionals. For the Culinary Stage Series, Drink Seminars and Nourish Health + Wellness Series are usually presented to smaller groups, with opportunities to interact with the leaders. Here’s an example from each series, showcasing the type of events that will let you expand your culinary horizons:
The Culinary Stage at Cornucopia: Beauty and the Bane: The Last Bottles on Earth
With an average bottle run of less than 300 bottles for the entire world, the beauty and the bane of single malt whisky is the flavours are unlike anything you get from the big distilleries however, once the bottle is finished you never get to taste it again. Join Legacy Liquor Store Brand Manager Darryl Lamb and Chef Bruce Worden to sample six whiskies. Limited to just 45 seats, be one of the last people ever to drink this whiskies.
Drink Seminar: Wine Detective
Daenna Van Mulligen hosts this refresher on wine basics. She’ll cover everything from chilling to decanting, as well as provide a whirlwind tour of Old and New World differences, regional strengths, and food pairings.
Nourish: Caveman Grocers – Chef Kara McMaster
Co-founder of Caveman Grocer, Kara McMaster will be speaking and teaching on how to master the basics of cooking, and the building blocks to creating delicious and nourishing recipes. Her passion and dedication to providing clients with paleo meals featuring local farms, pasture raised animals and old school cooking techniques have brought rapid growth to the company.
Drink Seminar: You Love Gin! You Just Don’t Know It Yet
Have you been avoiding gin following a regrettable experience in which you were ambushed by supercharged martinis or had your hopes dashed by watery G & Ts? This seminar will show you what you’ve been missing.
After dark, it’s all about the after parties. Champagne, martinis, wine mixers and silent discos, these are the events where you can really let your hair down.
Loads of Laughs: Comedy Kitchen
Quips will fly at this event featuring headlining comic Erica Sigurdson, a dominating force in the Canadian Comedy scene as well as an award-winning writer. She’s hitting the stage with fellow comedian Yumi Nagashima and emcee Steev Letts.
It’s time to get your futuristic fashion on for Cornucopia’s hottest new party – Abstract Future: From Now to Eternity. Held at the Audain Art Museum this event will see this iconic venue transform into a space that explores the possibilities of the near and distant future.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Bubbles and Brunch
Brunch is the meal between meals, where there are no rules and bubbles can flow before midday. This offering from the Fairmont is always popular, and sells out quickly – so if brunch is your jam, jump on it early.
Be sure to check out our Cornucopia survival guide for more information on planning the perfect festival, and stay tuned for the next post – Guide to Cornucopia for Party Animals. For more information on the festival including excellent ticket and accommodation packages, visit Whistler.com.