More than 18,000 people are expected to enjoy a vast menu of food and beverage at the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival this weekend.
The event runs from Nov. 17 through 19 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.
Dianna Stampfler with Promote Michigan and Joe Borello of Tasters Guild joined the WZZM 13 News at Noon to talk about the ninth annual event.
Considered a "night on the town" or the ultimate "Saturday afternoon tasting room experience," this 3-day event exposes attendees to dozens of area restaurants and over a thousand wine, beer, cider, mead, malt beverage and spirit offerings.
Complimentary workshops and seminars add to the overall experience.
New this year…
Enhanced Elite Wine Collection: First introduced last year, this feature has matured into its second year (just like a fine wine) and will be hosted by the Tasters Guild — an organization founded in Michigan in 1987 representing now over 30 active chapters throughout the country.
The nearly 50 offerings in the Elite Wine Collection have been hand-selected by our consulting sommeliers and importing specialists as the "best of the best" top shelf vintages, chosen from among 1200 assorted wines at the festival. These high-end wines—like Opus 1, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, and Dom Perignon—require a minimum 10-ticket ($5) tasting fee due to the cost of the product being served.
Each of these wines have at least a 90-point value in a recognized wine rating system and are regarded as among the most exclusive wines of the festival, according to industry experts. No need to invest hundreds of dollars in a full bottle — the Elite Wine Collection allows you the opportunity to sample these wines for a minimal cost. Located in the center of the Vineyard, inside the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place.
The GR Mixer blends together award-winning spirits and mixers into craft artisan cocktails, the region's noted mixologist and distillers who will serve up hands-on workshops guaranteed to educate and entertain. These complimentary 15-minute workshops will amp up your bartending skills, just in time for holiday entertaining with family and friends.
Nearly two dozen craft beverage workshops will be held throughout the weekend, presented by Coppercraft Distilling and New Holland Artisan Spirits. Held in the Secchia Lobby, running along the western edge of the Steelcase Ballroom and overlooking the Grand River, the new craft cocktail concourse workshops are limited to the first 12 people who step up to the bar at the scheduled times.
Bartenders from six-one-six inside the JW Marriott are also planning an exciting "Chopped"-style competition during their pairing aimed to perfectly match cocktails with prix fixe menu.
Once again, the festival is the culmination of Cocktail Week Grand Rapids, which this year runs Nov. 9-20 and is presented by Experience Grand Rapids.
Beer City Station: The festival's popular beer area returns to Exhibit Hall C on the Main Floor of DeVos Place off the Grand Gallery. Step into the world of creative craft beers, imported and domestic brews, hard ciders and foods that pair well with both. Meet the American craft brewer—the small, independent and traditional producers who display passion and excitement for their unique beverages. New products, as well as traditional favorites, will be offered for sampling.
Cider Row: Tap into the Cider Row at the festival, featuring almost 20 cider producers from Michigan and nationally-known brands. Hard cider is among the fastest growing craft beverages on a national scale. It is fermented to produce a range of flavors — from dry to sweet. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.
Flavored Malt Beverages: This sector of the beverage industry is taking off with hard iced tea; sodas—such as root beer, orange, cherry, lemon and other fruit flavors; seltzer waters and carbonated caffeinated products. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.
Growers Champagne Flights: Add a little extra class to your glass with an intimate tasting with Bradford Hammerschmidt from Imperial Beverage. These special flights offer champagnes you will not find anywhere else in the festival. Each of the champagnes will be paired with specially selected cheese and crudités. Flights offered Saturday at 4pm and 7pm only. The cost is $40 per person. Reservations may be made online or on site — space permitting.
Pairings: Select restaurants partner with distinguished wineries and breweries for special limited-seating Pairings — gourmet multi-course meals served on-site in a casual yet intimate "bar top" setting. Tickets are $45-$65 each and may be purchased in advance online or at the festival on a first-come, first-served basis. This year's restaurants include: Ganders, San Chez, six.one.six, Reds at Thousand Oaks, Vander Mill Cider and Wolfgang Puck's The Kitchen.
Ultimate Dining Opportunities: Chefs from about a dozen of the area's top restaurants prepare and serve small plates of their culinary specialties.
RendezBREW: The Coffee, Cordials and Dessert Café will be open in the Grand Gallery for the duration of the festival. Start your festival experience, or make it a nightcap, with unique pairings of coffee, lattes and cocktails crafted for your enjoyment with a variety of cordials, indulgent sweets and other treats.
Seminars & Workshops: Esteemed individuals from the culinary world host complimentary demonstrations on the Meijer Food Stage. Complimentary beverage seminars, held classroom-style in the rooms off the Grand Gallery, give attendees an in-depth look in to the world of wine, beer and spirits. Cocktail workshops are also offered for a unique hands-on experience for those wishing to learn tricks of the trade from top leaders.
Tickets for the festival are $15 for Thursday (and for advanced Friday and Saturday ticket sales) and $20 for Friday at Saturday at the door.
A 3-day pass is available for $40 and allows admission each day of the festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience.
Online sales end Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. Box office sales end at 10 p.m. the same day.
Food and beverage samples require varied amounts of sampling tickets of 50-cent denominations (sold at the festival).
For more information, click here.