The Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival (RMWFF) celebrated 20 years on Oct.13-14, at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park.
More than 25,000 people were expected to vie to be connoisseurs for the weekend and sample the best premium beers, wines, and spirits.
“I think it’s the explosion of wine in the world,” said Cathy Cook, festival director of the RMWFF on why the event has become so big.
“When we first started, wine was just starting to boom.”
“The format at our festival is very relaxed and social, there is no snobbery and people of all ages come out.”
The RMWFF started out as a grassroots festival in 1997 with 30 booths and 1000 guests.
A total of 39 food and dessert vendors were on scene from notable restaurants such as Paper St., Sweet Tooth, Workshop Kitchen + Bar, and others.
There were 200 booths and 700 sips for attendees to experience from vendors like The Most Royal of Vodkas, Alberta Craft Breweries, Winebeer, and the Canadian debut of blue wine by Marqués de Alcantara.
In 2016 the festival donated more than $21,000 to local charities and organizations.
“We feel fortunate to have been growing over the years,” said Cook on why the RMWFF chooses to give back.
A total of $5,000 was raised to provide scholarships and opportunities to students enrolled in SAIT’s Culinary Campus.
“We try to support charities that are indirectly linked to the food industry. We love supporting students at SAIT with scholarships because we know that they grow up and come out of school and become chefs.”
SAIT’s culinary department had a booth set up at the event and students helped at other booths at the festival.
The festival also donated to the Leftovers Foundation, Calgary Food Bank, and others.
The event also brought back the “Great Big Taste Awards” where attendees got a chance to vote on their favourite sips and samples.
“The Korean liquors are so good,” said Ghazal Farhady, an attendee at the event.
“Not a lot of people know about them but I think they are really getting out there now.”
The two food and 14 beverage categories had vendors competing for ultimate recognition.
The Great Big Taste Awards are the festival’s version of the People’s Choice Awards, but without the red carpet and way fewer speeches, said festival organizers.
The categories for food are top savoury and top sweet.
Categories for beverages included best sparkling wine, best red, best white, best rose, best other wine, best beer, best spirit, and best other adult beverage to name a few.
“I’ve been going for a few years,” said Georgina Webb, a student at the University of Calgary.
“Me and my girls have a great time. It’s definitely something we wouldn’t want to miss.”