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Crush! returning to conference centre


Winemakers dinners will be popular at seventh Cornucopia

The newly-renovated Whistler Conference Centre will host the signature event of Cornucopia on Nov. 7, the Crush! Gala Grand Tasting.

More than 85 international wineries, will be participating in the seventh annual edition of Cornucopia, Whistler’s Celebration of Food and Wine, which runs from Nov. 5 to 9.

A generous helping of Whistler restaurants, a clutch of winemakers, a bunch of seminars, a sprinkling of international chefs, and a pinch or two of competition have also gone into this year’s Cornucopia.

The new items in this year’s Cornucopia lineup include California’s John Ash and Canada’s own Michael Smith, who will be among the celebrity chefs giving cooking presentations, presented by Food Network Canada. A new Chef’s Table Luncheon Series will take place at two of Whistler’s most prestigious private homes.

New seminars this year include Sticky Fingers: An Adventure in Chocolate Making; Australia: Big Country, Big wines; Soups from the Heart; Various Voluptuous Viogniers; and Wine and Food — What Works and Why.

The always-popular winemakers dinners will be held on Saturday, Nov. 8 at a variety of Whistler restaurants. Each restaurant is partnered with a winery to present a unique and masterful menu where each course is paired with a specially-chosen wine. Participating restaurants and the wineries they’ll be partnered with include: Aubergine Grille at The Westin Resort & Spa will team up with Duckhorn Vineyards; Kenwood Vineyards will be at Casa Tapa's Restaurant & Wine Bar; Evergreen's Restaurant at the Delta Whistler Resort will partner with Sumac Ridge Estate Winery; The Den at Nicklaus North plays host to Cedar Creek Estate Winery; Wolf Blass joins The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Geyser Peak Winery will be at La Bocca; Thai One On will host Sandhill; Quattro at Whistler will team with Rodney Strong; and Zen Whistler will be paired with Gekkeikan Sake. Araxi Restaurant and Bar will partner with Robert Mondavi Family of wines and Rosemount Estate.

"We’ll be showcasing prestigious wines from the established estates of Mondavi and Rosemount together with brand new releases from their partnership labels Kirralaa (Australia) and Talomas (California," said Andre Thomas, restaurant director at Araxi. Chefs Romy Prasad, James Walt and David Hawksworth from Araxi’s sister restaurants in Vancouver will be partnering with Scott Kidd to create an eight-course menu to complement the 12 wines that will be poured.

The Bearfoot Bistro is also participating in the winemakers dinners and will also host the Crush! After Party on Nov. 7. Champagne, caviar, music, dancing and possibly some body painting are the attractions.

Cornucopia winds down on Sunday, Nov. 9 with the Ten Degrees Below Zero Farewell Brunch at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler. This ever-popular brunch celebrates the 25th anniversary of B.C. icewine with an assortment of still and sparkling table wines and the delicious culinary stylings of Executive Chef Vincent Stufano.

Ticket sales for individual Cornucopia events went on sale last week. Ranging from the delectably affordable to literally "Over the Top", Cornucopia event tickets vary in price from $15 to $499.

Tickets are available on the Cornucopia Web site at and by phone locally at 604-938-2769 or 1-888-999-4566 from out of town. Ticket/accommodation packages are also available.

2003 a vintage to remember

While much of the Okanagan is recovering from the devastating forest fires this summer, many people are also preparing to celebrate what could be a superb year for Okanagan wines.

The same hot, sunny weather that contributed to the forest fires also produced plump, sweet grapes that should make B.C.’s 2003 vintage one of the best ever.

The British Columbia Wine Institute reported this week that it’s business as usual for all Okanagan wineries, including those impacted by the fires this summer.

"Everyone knows we’ve had a long, hot summer, and that’s just the right set of conditions for wonderful grapes with high sugar content," Dawn Antle of the institute said in a release. "With continued good weather, this should be an excellent harvest."

Tilman Hainle of Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery said: "I think Mother Nature surpassed herself this year because the weather over the last four months has simply been a winemaker’s dream."

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