The 20th annual Vineyard Fest 2016 was exquisitely executed this past Sunday. Chateau Elan Winery and Resort rolled out the red carpet for hundreds of guests. This yearly gala is a favorite to locals as well as many out of state patrons. I met groups from Detroit, Long Island, Nevada, San Jose and even Utah. This festival is well known and bigger than I had imagined.
Once you check in, you receive a program and your commemorative wine glass. The first section was the Pavillion. This area included a music stage, an elaborate cheese station, decadent desserts, Tipsy Canvas and many seats to enjoy the ambiance. League of Decency lit up the music stage with classic rock hits. Their energy was uptempo and kept the crowds entertained. The cheese station was beautiful! There was so many different varieties of cheese. It was perfect for such an event.
The dessert station was unlike anything I had ever seen. They fried funnel cake bites and put them on a round black plate. Then you could pick toppings to add on top. There was strawberry, caramel, chocolate, candied pecans and even brandied bacon. Everything tasted so fresh. I love it when food is cooked to order. It was an overwhelming table of sweet delights.
The next stop was the Vat Room. This room hosted all of the food stations. The features included Braised Oxtail, Confit Chicken Lollipop, Conecuh Sausage Corndog, The Elvis, Tomato Water Aspic, Grilled Oyster and Lobster Beignet. The presentation of food was absolutely flawless!
The Cask Room was up next. Here we began our first tastings of the afternoon. Southern Distinctions, Inkwell Designers, Chateau Elan Muscadines, Red Hare Brewing Co., Boston Beer and Wild Heaven Craft Beers were on full display. Each company showcased their most acclaimed products. We gladly sat in line for a sample.
Just up the staircase, the Winery Tasting Room took up most of the time. It was comforting to speak directly with local distilleries about their companies. I was delighted to see several familiar faces behind the counter. Lazy Guy Distillery was front and center. I just met them a few weeks back at another tasting event. They only bring the cream of the crop wherever they go. In this case, it was their Snow Cream. I am definitely scheduling my tour of their distillery in Kennesaw, Ga.
Sassy Bitch Wines was present as well. They are a local favorite that I enjoy. Their Pinot Noir is a crowd pleaser. The fruity flavors mixed with the smokey oak make for a great experience. In the past 4 months Sassy Bitch Wines has been present at many events. Look out for them at your local stores.
I was in 'Bread Heaven' with the Artisan Bread Display. OMG! So many varieties of bread. I could hardly contain myself. This display was in the center of the hall and was constantly being replenished. New bread all the time.
To the left of the staircase was the center attraction of the day. The Vegetable Garden. It was the most creative thing that I've seen in some time. Its hard to even explain it. It was a HUGE display of hummus with different veggies decorated to look like an actual vegetable garden. I was tickled pink at how marvelous everything appeared. I was even more impressed with how savory it tasted. Bravo!
On the 3rd floor there was even more to discover. Yes. There was a 3rd level of activities. At the top of this staircase was a jam tasting table. It was a local farmer and they had over 10+ varieties of jellies. To the left was an ongoing wine seminar. And to the right, there were ongoing cooking demonstrations. I was fortunate enough to catch a bit of the crab cakes demo. Both the seminar and the food demos were packed with people eager to learn something new.
I was dressed to the T so I did not partake in grape stomping. However, I saw many that got their stomp on some grapes. Looked like a lot of fun.
I now understand why this festival is sought after by people across the country and even across the world. Chateau Elan perfected yet another pleasurable event that I will look forward to attending in 2017. If you want the red carpet treatment by the finest winery in Georgia, schedule your tour of Chateau Elan Winery and Resort. Book a room and make it a weekend getaway. You'll be glad that you did!