At the inaugural Cornucopia food and wine festival two decades ago, there was plenty of anticipation, based on Whistler’s growing reputation as a destination for more than just the winter sports. There were some growing pains over the years, as the festival grew in scope and depth, and as Whistler itself went through development spurts and times of recession; at the 20-year mark, though, Cornucopia has really arrived, with two weeks’ worth of foodie and oenophile events all presented in the name of education and entertainment.
For starters, there is a Crush Grand Tasting room, to really help participants establish the areas of wine they might want to pursue further. There is an abundance of seminars, presented by industry professionals providing insights and observations about specific topics. Some examples for 2016 are: Bubbly Cocktails; Wine and Chocolate; and Single Malt Seduction. There are Chef’s Table lunches, this year including one by David Hawksworth. And the Culinary Stage Series features all kinds of great panel discussions accompanied by tastings. You can even sign up for a visit and cooking demonstration at Jordan Sturdy’s amazing North Arm Farm in Pemberton. So there is plenty to keep you busy all day long.
Several hotels and restaurants offer celebratory dinners, often with special, impossible-to-get wines, and often, too, with guest chefs or vino proprietors. Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar alone is offering over half a dozen themed dinners over the two weeks. Culmina Family Estate Winery, Blasted Church, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, and Foxtrot from British Columbia, plus Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington and Italy’s Ceretto, are only a few of the featured winery dinners; the Four Seasons Whistler, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Crystal Lodge Hotel, Nita Lake Lodge, Quattro, and Rimrock Cafe are some of the places hosting special meals. It all underlines what a world-class destination resort Whistler is.
If you still have the stamina, there are many after-dinner tasting opportunities, and this year Bearfoot Bistro is front and centre with its Wine Mixer events, which don’t even begin until 10 p.m. There is good reason to expect even bigger and better in the coming years, as Cornucopia heads into a future in which Whistler itself really doesn’t have a shoulder season anymore. It’s busy all year ‘round, and not just because of the slopes. Good food and wine provide their own thrills.
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