Food and Wine Classic comes to Manchester this weekend

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MANCHESTER — This weekend wine lovers and foodies alike will descend on the Northshire for the inaugural Manchester Food and Wine Classic.

From Friday through Sunday, events including wine tastings, seminars, cooking demonstrations, and outdoor recreation will take place in both Stratton and Manchester for the Classic, hosted by the marketing and event production firm Townsquare Media.

"We estimate 1,000 guests this year, but with an eye towards future attendance growth," said McKay Murphy of Townsquare Media.

Proceeds from the weekend's events will benefit The Stratton Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides support to programs combating poverty as well as directly to families in crisis.

"Part of Manchester Food & Wine Classic's mission is to promote and develop an awareness and appreciation for food and wine in Manchester," said Murphy. "For us, part of that is raising awareness for a great non-profit beneficiary, the Stratton Community Foundation."

During the Classic master winemakers, culinary greats, and guests will come together to enjoy more than 100 food artisans, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and locally-made products.

Throughout the weekend, beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday, a Pinot Noir Challenge will be held at Stratton's Fire Tower Restaurant & Tavern. Tasters will sample noir varietals from both Oregon's Willamette Valley and the Burgundy region of France to discern which region is the top noir producer.

The Classic will begin Friday with some outdoor fun, combining stand up paddle-boarding and brews for SUP & Suds. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. participants will practice paddle boarding under the purview of an instructor, with a picnic style lunch and beer samples to follow. All gear will be provided by the Norse House, and attendees should plan to meet at the Stratton Welcome Center. Tickets are $95.

The venerated Wine Enthusiast magazine will really kick off the weekend with the Best of the Fest celebration at the Equinox hotel from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. featuring a selection of international and domestic wines, beers, and fine spirits. Tickets, $135, will include a souvenir wine glass, all wine, and appetizers crafted by Chef Daniel Black.

The epicurean reverie will officially begin at 7 p.m., for an evening of sipping, swirling, and dining at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel's eatery The Copper Grouse. Tickets, are $140. During this four-course, upscale dinner Executive Chef Vanessa Davis will blend her Portuguese heritage with the flavor of Vermont's four seasons; complimented with wine, of course.

Saturday will begin with a morning retreat to the Southern Vermont Art Center's Cafe Sora for Blends and Bentos from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $65. Cafe Sora's Chefs Chie Addinton and Katsuko Lord will serve Japanese homestyle cuisine surrounded by the local art collection at SVAC.

Midday, the Manchester Designer Outlets will sponsor a free Song, Style, and Sip concert on Manchester's Town Green. From 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. the Silver Arrow Band will perform contemporary pop music for an afternoon of dancing, snacks and sips from The Perfect Wife restaurant and Tavern, and shopping for the latest in style from the outlet's brands.

The culinary celebration will culminate in a Grand Tasting at Stratton Mountain from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $99. Food purveyors including Fortuna's Sausage and Italian Market, the Ravens Den Steakhouse and Taproom, New England Hot Fudge, the Fire Tower Restaurant and Tavern, Ambrosia Chocolates and Confections, Mach's Mobile Wood Fired Pizza, Cabot Cheese, the Red Fox Inn, and Red Barn Lavash will offer samples alongside live music and a selection of wines.

Saturday's schedule will conclude back in Manchester with Dinner Decanted at the Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $95. Executive Chef Sigal Rocklin will prepare a four-course gourmet dinner complimented by wines from Cakebread Cellars of California.

"We've worked with Cakebread and love their wine, so we decided to do a nice dinner with local ingredients to pair with those wines," said Rocklin. "I enjoy bringing the community together, and I think that food and wine is a great way to do that."

The Food and Wine Classic will wrap up on Sunday with Sparkles Around the World hosted by the Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Owner and Chef Amy Chamberlain will prepare a variety of global dishes, to be complemented with an international selection of sparkling wines.

"I've always love being involved in community events, and this felt like another way to contribute," said Chamberlain. "It's a lot of fun for me to experiment with different cuisines and research those different regions to put a brunch menu together, that's what I really love."

As the classic revs up for its inaugural weekend, organizers hope that it will be the first of many.

"We have partnered with many local businesses to attract not only locals, but wine and food enthusiasts from all over," said Murphy. "Being our inaugural year, we hope everyone comes out to enjoy a beautiful weekend with wine from all over the world and the best chefs in Vermont."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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