Well, it’s official. I’m a junior wine snob. The nine-dollar bottles just don’t cut it anymore and I only buy the economy box when I’m camping (no heavy bottles to carry and kids love to play kick the can with that empty inflatable silver bag.) I still don’t know a pinot grigio from a foie gras but my tongue knows what it likes and now I’m buying cases at the source and starting to get pretty excited about Cornucopia, Whistler’s annual celebration of food and wine that takes place November 7-11, 2012.
Much more than just wine-swirlers and cork-sniffers standing around talking about the movie Sideways, Cornucopia celebrates it’s 16th year this autumn and it’s become one of Canada’s premier events for all things culinary and oenological. I’m sorry, oen-a-what?
“Oenological means having to do with wine making,” explains Cornucopia insider Jess Smith. “Don’t worry, I had to look it up too.” Jess and event producer Kevani MacDonald agreed to sit down and dish up the goods on all the hot-ticket events so Whistler Insider readers aren’t left out in the cold drinking their uncle’s u-brew homemade swill while everyone else lives the good life.
“The House Party, is a perfect entry-level event,” Jess says. “It’s a bit more casual, like backyard BBQ style with everything but the beer pong.”
Which is true, if your backyard BBQ’s feature a huge meat buffet from the Four Season’s champion Sidecut restaurant or local gin and vodka from Pemberton Distillery alongside beers from Whistler Brewing, Howe Sound Brewing, Granville Island Brewing, Philips and more.
“It’s much more than wine. It’s a taste of Whistler and of BC with a really fun vibe that is a perfect way to kick off the weekend,” Jess says. House Party goes down Thursday November 8, 2012 at 6PM and you can get tickets here. “It’s a huge event but it’s going to sell out,” Jess says. “Same with CRUSH.”
The CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting is basically 16,500 square feet of wine-tasting good times with thousands of bottles from around the world, hundreds of experts and a few tables of cheese and meat to keep things civilized. Since the spring, Kevani has been sourcing top wines for this one single evening, from local boutique wineries like Lillooet’s Fort Berens to New Zealand’s infamous Oyster Bay to British Columbia cult favourites Black Hills Estate. CRUSH is wine-paradise and takes place Friday November 9 from 8:30- 11PM but there are a limited number of “Early Entry” tickets that get you in 45 minutes early.
Certainly the oenological crowd loves hobnobbing and talking about their passion but like most Whistler events, there’s not a lot of pretension at Cornucopia.
“Whistler is a good leveler,” says Kevani. “People arrive and the mountains kind of humble everyone, plus the village always has such a fun inclusive feel. From relaxed at-peace-with-the-earth types all the way up to super high-end fancy, Cornucopia has something for everyone.”
One thing we all have in common – everyone’s gotta eat. The Viking Stage Series features local and national chefs and beverage producers displaying their skills and sharing their secrets on everything from dessert making and spirit distilling to the secret benefits of bison meat or the revolutionary food truck movement.
“The boys from Street Meat Truck in Vancouver are pairing with Granville Island Brewing for their Viking Seminar,” Jess says. “Take sustainable meats and street food bites accompanied with delicious local brews and you’ve got the makings of a man-cave menu fit for a king, or a hungry queen.” Poke around on the complete list of food events to see what interests you and get those tickets early.
Speaking of early, from breakfast bubbles to afternoon delight sparkling wine is not just for special occasions and celebrity wine diva Daenna Van Mulligan will prove it at Bubble-icious. It all goes down at high noon on Sunday November 11, 2012. “Deanna is hilarious and well-respected in the wine industry,” Jess says. “That’s going to be one of the first sold out events. That and the Blue Moon.”
A blue moon is the second of two full moons occurring in the same month (it has nothing to do with the Smurfs). We actually just had a blue moon on August 31 and the next one isn’t until July 2015. So yeah, it’s rare. Wines for a Blue Moon collects a panel of wine masters to walk you (and your tastebuds) through some recommendations for those rare, special moments when life is so good you need to break out the good stuff. If you fancy yourself a “wine snob” this is a must-attend.
And that’s just the proverbial tip of the carrot stick. Cornucopia also features Chef’s luncheons held in swanky private mansions, a trip to the farm, Winery dinners at all of Whistler’s top restaurants and, of course, more than a few sizzling afterparties.
“This is Whistler after all,” Jess says. “You can party like a rockstar and drink sake all night or come in like a big gun and buy a bottle worth more than my car. Either or, you’re going to have a good time.”
Kevani and Jess will be back in October to dish up the scoop on some of Cornucopia’s new events and late-breaking news. Until then, I’ll be wandering the wine aisle, still judging the wines by their labels, but hoping for a nice ”full-bodied” red to go with my 12-year aged cheddar and Pemberton Beef steaks. Yum, being a wine snob isn’t so bad after all.