Annual Highlands Food & Wine Festival elevates region to new heights

In between pouring glasses of his Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, Ryan Hodgins, Director of Winemaking for FEL Wines explained 2022 marked his 3rd 12 months attending the Highlands Meals & Wine Festival. 

FEL Wines are crafted in the Anderson Valley of California — quite the distance from the Plateau, but according to Hodgins, the festival’s skill to blend new music and food stuff to complement a assortment of wines and cocktails helps make the event perfectly worthy of the journey. The letters in FEL depict Florence Elsie Lede, founder Cliff Lede’s mom, a household winemaker who delivered the early inspiration for Cliff’s like of wine.

Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Cliff remembers the tulip as signifying the conclude of winter season, bringing with it a freshness and excitement of hotter days in advance. The FEL Wines label, featuring an illustration of an opening tulip, is a tribute to Florence’s passion for gardening.

Hodgins was lifted in the Pacific Northwest but has been browsing Western North Carolina for decades. 

“I delight in coming to the Highlands Foods & Wine Festival since it is usually so effectively place with each other and so well attended,” reported Hodgins. “Even with the climate we have experienced this weekend, all of the activities have been so fast paced and the people are so helpful and welcoming. This is the only festival we do that isn’t specially wine-centric so the individuals we meet and provide are unique, which provides us an opportunity to broaden and encourage FEL in diverse circles. 

FEL winemaker Sarah Inexperienced joined Hodgins around the weekend, marking her first practical experience at the Highlands Food items & Wine Festival. 

“It is so gorgeous here. We ended up able to catch views at Sunset rock and definitely delight in the ambiance made only dependent on Highlands’ site in the mountains,” stated Green. “There has been such fantastic food and entertainment all weekend, it has genuinely been a entire practical experience.” 

Hodgins and Green ended up capable to talk about their expertise at the festival in involving pours of their Chardonnay, which was a group favored during Saturday afternoon’s Key Event in downtown Highlands. FEL Wines arrived to the competition at the recommendation of their distributor, which is based mostly in Atlanta, Georgia. The festival’s one of a kind demographic, which encompasses wine connoisseurs, connoisseur foodies, and songs aficionados, finds prevalent floor on the Plateau each and every Slide. 

This year’s Principal Occasion headliner was Aged Crow Drugs Show— an American string band centered in Nashville, Tennessee that has been recording considering the fact that 1998. With a substantial audience and significant fame — the band was the icing on the cake — for this year’s competition. 

With foods and wine becoming the aim of the festival, function organizers worked to incorporate a philanthropic facet to the once-a-year competition that will have a long lasting effect on the local community, extended soon after the festival is over. In addition to a portion of the ticket sales going to advantage Friends of Founders Park, as Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park — which has served as a gracious host for the pageant considering that its inception 2016, this year the competition launched a Culinary Endowment in honor of Louis Osteen to give scholarships for college students pursuing careers in the culinary arts — giving desire to Macon County college students. The Endowment was named in honor of the James Beard Award-winning Chef Louis Osteen, who retired to Highlands after a culinary profession that elevated and really shaped Southern delicacies. Osteen died in his Highlands, NC property in 2019 following a extended fight with liver cancer.

Developing on the faithful supporters of the Highlands Food items & Wine Pageant, Highlands Festivals, Inc introduced the lineup for the 3rd annual Bear Shadow Spring audio competition at the starting of previous weekend’s situations. The music festival, set to be held April 28­–30, 2023 near Highlands, North Carolina, will feature headlining performances by Spoon, The Head & The Coronary heart and Jason Isbell and The 400 Device. Tickets go on sale Nov. 16.  The Bear Shadow songs principal phase, identified as “Base Camp,” will be held yet again at Winfield Farm in Scaly Mountain, just a brief generate from downtown Highlands.