On Friday, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival will be gathering Calgarians to celebrate 20 years of the best wine, beer, spirits, and delectable dishes.
“The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival (RMWFF) got its start 20 years ago by three rag-tag friends working as beer brand reps in Ontario. After attending beverage trade shows out east, it struck them that they could do the same thing in Calgary where such an event didn’t yet exist. It was a “rocky” start (pun intended) but in 1997, the first annual Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival was hosted, with 30 booths and 1000 guests.”
One thousand guests is pretty amazing attendance for the first year of a festival! As the event grew each year, organizers realized that there was enough interest to expand northward to Edmonton in 2007. Ten years later, RMWFF has grown into one of Alberta’s largest wine and food festivals with hundreds of booths and over 25,000 in attendance. I’ve been fortunate to attend three years of the Festival and I find it a great way to try wines and spirits that I wouldn’t normally get to try (due to availability) or go out of my way to purchase…it’s a great way to expand your palate on a budget! Where else would I have been able to try the entire line of Japanese Nikka Whiskies? Some of my favourites last year were quite surprisingly, ciders from the BC Tree Fruits Cider Co and Reverend Nat. Less surprising were some ‘new to me’ gins from Rig Hand Distillery (formerly Big Rig Distillery) and Boodles British Gin.
This year’s festival wines feature 17 different countries including a large list of Canadian wines and previous crowd favourites from Moldova. For a full list of available wines click here. While your there, be sure to also check out the extensive list of beer, cider, and distilled spirits. Some new and ‘not to miss’ 20th Anniversary highlights are:
- BLUE WINE from Marqués de Alcántara is making it’s Canadian debut at RMWFF. The brilliant indigo blue hue in your glass, is due to the natural pigmentation extracted from the skin of the grapes used in production. Festival-goers will have the opportunity to sample both the Sparkling and Frizzante versions.
- GOLD VODKA – Royal Dragon Imperial Vodka from China is not your average vodka, it’s exclusively distilled with a Russian formula from the finest winter harvest rye – Five times distilled and accented with 23 carat gold flakes.
- Tolaini Valdisanti Tolaini creates great wines that celebrate Tuscany’s rich tradition in culture and life. You don’t want to miss out on this cellar-worthy sip, ask for a recommended food pairing as you enjoy this big rich red.
- Alberta Craft Breweries – Alberta has some seriously great beers to share with the world and at RMWFF they are all under one roof! Check out true-to-Alberta brews from:
Banded Peak Brewing, Big Rock Brewery, Freehold Brewing Co, Wild Rose Brewery, Rapid Ascent Brewing, Hell’s Basement Brewery, Cold Garden, Half Hitch
Brewing, and Banff Ave Brewing Co.
- Taylor Fladgate 1967 Single Harvest Port – It’s a PARTY! Why not break out this special occasion ultra-luxe 50 year old port to celebrate?!
Of course this is a FOOD blog and this year RMWFF’s is putting on a huge bash, complete with delicious food from nearly 50 vendors and artisans. Besides my returning festival favourites, there are some new and exciting tasty treats to pair with your sips!
- Paper Street – Street food flavours from a range of tasty global cuisines crafted using ingredients from our own backyard. They will be serving up Tuna Poke Nachos and BBQ Pork Steamed Bao Buns.
- Workshop Kitchen + Bar – In 2016 Workshop Kitchen + Bar was named one of OpenTable’s top 100 Restaurants and earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. They will be dishing up creative, chefdriven and adventurous seasonal cuisine such as Lamb Tartare, Olive Oil Poached Salmon, and Tuna Tiradito.
- Run Pig Run – One of the newest meat centric 17th Ave restaurants, proudly serving handcrafted, fresh, and chef-driven Alberta cuisine. Stop by their booth to enjoy Pulled Pork Sliders and a BBQ Pulled
Then there are the delicious sweet treats from Sweet Tooth…rolled ice cream is the most instagrammable way to treat yourself and Sweet Tooth has it down to a delicious science. Crowd favourites Master Chocolat and Old Coal Chocolates are back again too, just in time to pair with that 50 year old port from Taylor Fladgate. It wouldn’t be a party without some giveaways…stop by the Liquor Connect booths to enter to win a $100 gift card to Pig & Duke along with two tickets to the 2018 Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival. This year’s grand prize is an All-Inclusive Alpine Getaway for two at the beautiful SunshineMountain Lodge. The winner will enjoy two night’s accommodation, VIP parking, dinner for two, full mid-mountain rental packages for two, and next day lift tickets on “Canada’s Best Snow” at Sunshine Village.
I believe that part of the reason the festival is so successful is that the organizers have a huge opportunity to ‘give back’ and they do! In 2016 alone, the Festival donated over $21,000 to local charities and organizations, thanks to help from Festival guests and sponsors. This year, the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival aims to donate even more to these fantastic organizations: Calgary Food Bank, SAIT and for the first time, The Leftovers foundation with $1 from every Front of the Line ticket sold donated to this worthwhile organization.
Tickets and Information:
Tickets for each tasting session are sold online or at the door (based on availability). Sampling coupons are $0.50 each and available inside the Grand Tasting Hall. To purchase tasting session tickets and learn more about Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival please visit www.rockymountainwine.com
Friday Oct. 13; 5-10pm
Saturday Oct. 14; 12-4pm
Saturday Oct. 14; 6-10pm
Stampede Park BMO Centre, Halls D & E