By Karen Holbrook |
Thousands of wine lovers showed up Saturday for the 14th annual Yadkin Valley Wine Festival held at the Elkin Municipal Park. Sunshine, wine and music were in abundance as festival goers raised their glasses and learned more about the wines of the Yadkin Valley appellation.
“I think it was an amazing day, an amazing festival,” said Myra Cook, president of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event each year. “The weather was perfect. Everyone was happy.”
Visitors to the festival hailed from all across the state as well as Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland and even as far away as California.
Volunteer Holly Lamm, who worked at the check-in tent, said she had an attendee who came all the way from the Bahamas.
The festival serves as a showcase of all the Yadkin Valley Wine region has to offer. There are locals and visitors who attend the event every year and there are always newcomers as well.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity and quality of the local wines at the festival,” said Jerri Kallam, who came from Charlotte to attend the festival for the first time. “NC wines aren’t only some basic muscadine wines and the festival is a fun and affordable way for people to become more familiar with what the area has to offer.”
The organized and welcoming atmosphere at the festival also delighted first time visitors, like K. Royal from Durham.
“A dear friend of mine has for years been the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival’s number one cheerleader and has repeatedly invited me to join her. I’d been reluctant because festivals are often crowded and not well organized,” Royal explained. “Well, lucky for me, my friend is getting married this year and wanted to celebrate her bachelorette at the festival and I’m now one of the festival’s biggest fans.”
Royal said she and members of her group made new friends on the shuttle ride from the Fairfield Inn to the festival and the fun didn’t stop there.
“The festival was the perfect setting to celebrate my favorite bride-to-be,” Royal added. “It was so festive, fun, and stressfree. There was such a feeling of warmth and community and our group could not have had a better time. I’m already counting down to next year. We are all so appreciative to the event organizers and our fellow festival-goers for making a special day even more special.”
Royal said her favorite wines of the day were RagApple Lassie’s Boonville Blanc and Grassy Creek’s Guernsey Red and White Barn Breeze.
Cook said there were several bachelorette groups celebrating at Saturday’s event and she has heard stories of married couples who met or had their first date at the festival.
The musical entertainment for the festival, both bands brought back by popular demand from last year, was once again a hit. Cook said that they received many calls after last year’s festival asking that blues band Blues Deville and soul and motown band Carolina Soul Band be brought back for the festival.
“We enjoyed both bands. Carolina Soul Band got people up and dancing and they left you wanting more,” said Kathy and Paul Petras, first-time visitors to the festival.
Another big draw for the Petras family was the chance to sample wines of the Yadkin Valley that are not typically found in their local grocery stores.
“Slightly Askew is one of my favorites,” said Petras. “They are hard to find in stores so I am always happy to see them at venues.”
Along with the wines, this year’s festival celebrated the addition of craft beer into the mix. Elkin’s Skull Camp Brewery made an appearance, offering a sampling of their beers including Tr’ale B’red red ale, Tongue Tied rye IPA and Beam Me Up Scotty session scotch ale. The addition of beer appeared to be a hit with festival goers as the line continued to stay long.
Cook said the addition of beer at this year’s event was a trial run and they would be evaluating the feedback on it. She said a future goal for the chamber is to offer a beer festival with music during the fall of the year.
“I loved the fact that there was a vendor that had wine and beer,” said Katherine Stanley. “I was open to trying the different wines and did indulge, but there is nothing like a nice cold beer on a beautiful sunny day.”
Cook said a lot of the credit for the festival goes to the committee members and volunteers who help run the event.
“I don’t know what we would do if it wasn’t for the volunteers and the amazing job they do,” Cook said. “They were there before 7 o’clock that morning setting up and still there at 7:30 p.m. helping to clean up after the festival.” She also said the folks at All-Star Rentals deserved recognition for going above and beyond in helping with event set-up.
“The committee works yearround on this, so I just feel privileged to be part of this committee and this group that makes this such as success for our Yadkin Valley,” Cook added. “We hope every year we can add something new to make it fresh and bring back the favorites for the people that attend the festival.”