Cornucopia, Whistler's veritable glutton's paradise, is almost upon us. On top of the infamous parties that take place at the annual event, there are also lots of opportunities (and excuses) to partake in some daytime sipping at one of the many seminars on offer.
Watermark Communications - best known for its role in the annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival - got into the food and wine business last year, taking over the planning of Cornucopia.
While the first year organizing the festival was definitely a learning experience, Watermark's Lilli Clarke said they got a lot of positive feedback from attendees, and this time around, enthusiasm for the annual celebration of food and wine seems to have grown.
"Now that we've got one year under our belt, instead of focusing on just really making sure that everything just goes off well... now we can focus fully, 100 per cent on just making the programming the best it could possibly be," Clarke said.
This time around, they've aimed to improve the quality of food seminars and the wine and food pairings. And with 76 wineries on-board to take part in the four-day festival, there's sure to be no shortage of red, white, rosé and bubbly to go around.
They've revamped the schedule, adding some exciting new seminars and reinventing some of the tried, tested and true favourites. For example, Battle of the Sexes and Best Buys have been transformed into Killer Value Wines, which combine the two popular events into one "powerhouse" seminar presented by Wine Access magazine and hosted by David Scholefield and Anthony Gismondi.
"It's going to be the best wines that they know of... under $25, so we've upped the capacity because we know it's going to be a really popular seminar."
Rare Wines is now Wines For A Blue Moon, hosted again by Scholefield and Gismondi.
Mainstays and favourites are still on the schedule, just under a different name, so make sure you read the descriptions carefully.
"It's all there and it's all the same, we're just kind of putting a fresh new spin on it," said Clarke.
They're offering events geared towards people of all levels of wine knowledge and interest.
"We have really interesting and different, dynamic seminars, like Masa Shiroki from (Vancouver's) Artisan SakeMaker pairing up with David Scholefield to talk about sushi and sake," Clarke said.
This year, the B.C. Wine Institute is sponsoring a special "Bootcamp for B.C. Wines," designed for those in the service industry. Scholefield will again lead the session with the hopes of educating staff about diversity, variety and pair-ability of B.C. wines in the lead-up to the Olympics.
Organizers are also bringing back the tiered Crush dinners that they introduced to Cornucopia last year, which range in price from $105 to $150. These packages include admission to the annual Crush gala and dinner at Gone Bakery (tier one), The Wildflower, The Wild Wood, Players Chophouse or La Bocca (tier two), and Le Aubergine, Hy's Steakhouse, Ric's Grill, Jordan's Crossing, Rim Rock Café and Quattro (tier three.)
Seminars range in price from $15 for a chocolate pairing with Rogers' Chocolates to $85 for the rare wine seminar, Once In A Blue Moon. For a full schedule, visit www.whistlercornucopia.com .
Tickets went on sale a few weeks ago and so far one event, a chef's table luncheon with Wayne Martin of Fraiche Restaurant and Road 13 Winery, has already sold out. Others are filling up quickly.
"There's definitely something for everyone."
Two long-time local business owners have been recognized by a respected Canadian trade association.
Bob and Sue Adams, owners of The Grocery Store, received the 2009 Life Member Designation from the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) and were honoured at Grocery Innovations Canada 2009, the country's premier grocery exposition and conference, on Monday, Oct. 26.
"Bob and Sue Adams have exemplified the innovative independent grocer through their unique approach to the grocery business," John Scott, CFIG President and CEO, said in a press release. "They're true inspirations to the Canadian community of independent grocers, and the Life Member award is a fitting tribute to these two amazing people who have given so much back to their industry."
The Adams purchased the 5,200 square-foot The Grocery Store in the heart of Whistler Village in 1988. They transformed the space into a full-service supermarket, doubling sales in the first three years of business. They have renovated The Grocery Store again this fall.
In 1998, they built another store, The Pemberton Valley Supermarket, in Pemberton. And through the years the couple has continued to support the CFIG, serving on the board of directors and committees, and representing the organization at regional forums.