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Wine, Food & West Hartford a Perfect Combo for Inaugural Festival

The inaugural West Hartford Wine & Food Festival will debut on Saturday, June 17, 2017 on the grounds of Kingswood Oxford School.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford is already known for its fabulous restaurants, and area residents are already fans of fine wine – and in a perfectly-crafted synergy, the two will be combined in a beautiful outdoor setting for the inaugural West Hartford Food & Wine Festival.

Presenters Maximum Beverage and JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery are calling the event the “first annual,” because it’s sure to be a success.

“West Hartford is built for a wine and food festival like this. We’re lucky enough to have some of the best restaurants in New England all within a few blocks of each other. And the West Hartford population has thousands of wine enthusiasts that would love the opportunity to try the world’s best wines,” said Kevin Cowan of Maximum Beverage, who is working as marketing coordinator for the West Hartford Wine & Food Festival.

“West Hartford has been ripe for this type of an event for years. We’re very excited to have been able to partner with JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, and their Master Somm Joseph Spellman to kick-off this inaugural festival,” event co-founder and Maximum Beverage owner Brian Whitney said in a news release announcing the event.

Cowan said that Paso Robles, CA-based JUSTIN, which was named Wine Enthusiast’s “Winery of the Year” for 2015, was an easy choice for lead wine sponsor. “We’re the biggest fans of their wine and are excited to partner with them for this event,” said Cowan.

East IN Connecticut founder Jeannette Dardenne said that 20 to 30 restaurants will be participating in the inaugural event. “We have some incredible chefs lined up, with each restaurant offering a taste of their cuisine.”

According to Dardenne, confirmed restaurants participating include Millwrights, INDIA, Zohara, Grants, ON20, Park & Oak, and the North House, with many more to come.

Not only will residents from West Hartford, the state, and the region have the opportunity to enjoy some of the state’s best food courtesy many of the area’s top restaurants, and more than 200 different wines from throughout the world, but the event is also a fundraiser. A portion of proceeds will support need-based financial aid at select independent schools in West Hartford including Kingswood Oxford, Intensive Education Academy, American School for the Deaf, Northwest Catholic, Solomon Schechter, Renbrook School, St. Brigid – St. Augustine Partnership School, and Watkinson School.

“West Hartford is home to some of the nation’s best schools, and we are honored to be welcomed to the beautiful grounds of Kingswood Oxford for this event and to have the support of their Head of School Dennis Bisgaard, is a true testament to how much our town comes together to support the community we love,” Whitney said.

The West Hartford Wine & Food Festival, which will run from 1-6 p.m., will be highlighted by a Wine 101 presentation by Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman from JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, who will conduct blind taste tests on stage. There will be live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and more than 30 wine tables featuring local, national, and world-renowned brands. 

Renee DiNino will emcee, and according to the event website Wayne Carini from Chasing Classic Cars will be a featured guest.

For those who prefer other beverages, there will be a craft brewery tent, a CT Wine & Spirits Trail tent, and fine whiskeys to sample. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

There will also be cigars, and displays by local purveyors and artisans, and $20 Uber credits will be included in the ticket price with a promo code that will be provided.

“This is not your everyday wine and food festival,” Cowan said. Most of the wines being poured retail for $20 and up. Food from premier restaurants in West Hartford and the surrounding area are also participating.

“We’re also excited to pair select wines with food. Wine and food is a marriage and we love that pairing is a focus of the event,” said Cowan.

Tickets, which are available online at https://www.westhartfordwineandfood.com are $149 per person in advance and $179 at the door. Tickets include all wine and food. 

A “designated driver” ticket is also available for $75, and includes all food and non-alcoholic drinks. There are 4-packs of tickets for $500, which provide a savings of more than $24 per person.  

The event is expected to attract more than 1,000 people.

For more information and continued updates, visit the First Annual West Hartford Wine & Food Festival  website, follow on Facebook and Instagram (@whwinefood).

The West Hartford Wine & Food Festival is being held in collaboration with WH Media (We-Ha.com and West Hartford Magazine) and Eat IN Connecticut, and is sponsored by iHeart Radio.

Additional sponsorship opportunities, exhibitor inquiries, and volunteer applications should be directed to Kevin Cowan at [email protected].

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