This year’s venue was inside/outside with the VIP lounge inside

T he festival has had many names over the years but no matter what you call it there were great wines and great food from local eateries. This year it had a new venue, West Lake Country Club. Everyone enjoyed live music by A Step Up, a silent auction and of course while sampling award winning wines and making new friends. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Easter Seals and the Augusta Technical College Culinary Endowment Program.
I was lucky to have “pre-tasted” some of the award winning wines as I wrote the Filemaker app that was used to tally the judge’s scores. I was lucky enough to know what was in the bags and sampled a few when they returned from the judge’s table.
So today I was able to concentrate on wine’s I hadn’t tried. But I have to admit I did try the Best-in-Show wine again, Fess Parker’s The Big Easy.
I have to give a shout out to all the food vendors/chefs today. Enjoyed the oysters-on-the-half-shell from Abel Brown, all sorts of nibbles from P.F. Chang’s, a really big selection from Augusta Tech’s Culinary students, Fifth & Finch, and Edgar’s Grill. If you starved today it’s your own fault.
Favorite wine today was The Volunteer. This is the first time I have tried it because it wasn’t entered in the judging (might have done). It is appropriate to be served today with all of the fires in California’s wine country. The wine’s name is in honor of volunteer firefighters. Winemaker Tony Leonardini is a volunteer fire fighter in Napa Valley. “Ask and he will share stories about traveling the state to put out fires. The ‘Volunteer’ wine salutes that spirit. As Tony says, “It’s easy to donate a dollar, but it’s a lot harder to volunteer an hour.”
I also linked the Oberon Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been the house wine at many high-end restaurants in the Augusta area. Dry, nice medium-body, oaky with nice tannins. Begs for a good steak. Another was Big Smooth Zinfandel. Drinks like a cab.
I asked a few tasters what they liked. Mayra was into the rosé she tried. Stella Rosa Rosé and Villa Rosa Sparkling Rosé was her favorites. Another taster, Rudy, was enjoying some of the sweeter wines like Cucina Mista Rosso and one of the Moscatos.
Another treat was a sample of Shackleton Scotch. I have always wanted to try it. This is new to the market. This is supposed to be a “resurrection” of the scotch found buried in an old shack the famous Ernest Shackleton Expedition and huddled in more than a 100 years ago when their ship was destroyed by ice. For the full story behind the scotch click here. A very smokey, peaty scotch. Nice.
Cudos to Pat Goodwin, festival chairman, all of the distributors and the food vendors. Great new location. Nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy great food and wines.

Cost: $50 per person or $55 at the door. You get a souvenir wine glass with the cost of the ticket.


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