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Cornucopia 2008: A dozen years down the road and in the middle of strange times

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Whistler’s high altitude food and wine party turns 12 this year — in strange times. As the current economic downturn goes global, I’m betting Cornucopia cannot arrive soon enough for some local merchants desperate to kick off an early ski season with five days of food and wine.

This year’s festival runs from Nov. 6 to 10 with new organization and plenty of “new” events organizers no doubt are expecting will attract crowds. So how do you attract people to spend money on food and wine when skiing is not an option? Go international and head for France, the home of wine. With British Columbia wineries about to blow the budget on their appearance as the theme region at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival next spring, Cornucopia will work the French theme.

What follows is our annual guide to some of the best wine events at Cornucopia. After 12 years I suspect people will gravitate to some of the events that particularly interest them and/or fit their current wine needs. As always, unless otherwise mentioned, all events take place at the TELUS Whistler Conference Centre (TWCC). For complete details on ticket availability and pricing for both events and accommodations simply log onto whistlercornucopia.com. Don’t wait for the last minute to pick up tickets — otherwise you may be disappointed.

The kick off House Party goes French this year under the banner of Apéritif a la Française (House Party). The French are determined to make inroads in the B.C. market at the consumer level and will use the Grand Foyer of the TWCC to work the crowds. The plan is to serve a variety of classic French aperitif wines to inspire you to think French the next time you are buying wine. Entertainment and bites of food round out Cornucopia’s kick-off. Thursday, Nov. 6. $35. 5 to 7 p.m.

The signature CRUSH nights have been revamped again this year to include dinner possibilities at a number of Whistler restaurants. Both CRUSH nights can include a multi-course dinner ticket at one of 16 Whistler restaurants ranging from $100 to $135, depending on which restaurant menu you choose. The CRUSH Premiere Gala Grand Tasting runs Friday, Nov. 7 at 8:15 p.m. (VISA Early entry) or from 9 to 11:15 p.m., and includes a guaranteed high-end wine at each of the 75 booths. CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting runs Saturday, Nov. 8, from 9 to 11:15 p.m.

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