This Memorial Day weekend thousands of wine enthusiasts and gourmands alike will gather in the French Quarter to participate in the 25th New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE).
Winemakers from all around the world will collaborate with premiere restaurants around town to host one-of-a-kind culinary events. From ViNOLA! where guests get to sample rare and expensive wines to The Big Gateaux Show where Burlesque dancers perform alongside celebrity chefs, NOWFE is sure to be the culinary blockbuster of the summer.
However, NOWFE is not just about indulgence. Over 25 years ago, a visionary group of wine lovers established the festival to not only showcase their passion for wine but to also give back to the community. The first year, 100% of the profits went to support charitable organizations in and around New Orleans. The festival continues that tradition today. This year’s beneficiary will be the Nunez Community College Culinary Arts Program, which prepares students for jobs in the hospitality sector. Over the years, NOWFE has donated more than $1.2 million to the New Orleans’ community.
Now, for its 25th anniversary, NOWFE is chock full of various events that will attract all types, from experienced sommeliers to burgeoning wine enthusiasts. The opening ceremony of the festival begins this Thursday evening with Wine Dinners. All over the city, New Orleans classiest restaurants will feature a different winery, where guests will be able to learn about the wine and the food directly from the creators themselves. Restaurants featured in the Wine Dinners include: Antione’s, Brennan’s, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Pigeon and Prince, and Caribbean Room. Winery’s featured at the event include: Reynolds Family Winery (featuring Italics Winegrowers and Wine Groomers), Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Silver Oaks Cellars, Kobrand Fine Wine and Spirits, and North Berkeley Imports. In order to get reservations, contact the restaurants personally to see if there is still space available. Reservations range from $95 to $175 dollars per person.
The following day, the seminars will kick off. This is the chance to get some hands-on, educational experience with both food and wine production. In the Au Naturale: The Natural Wine Movement, guests are educated in the ways of natural wine making, a process that varies heavily from more conventional methods of wine production. In What’s your Spirit Noodle? A Hand Making Pasta Seminar guests will team up with chef Nick Lama to create unique pastas from one of Italy’s 20 distinct regions. Each pasta will be paired up with a wine from that region, giving guests a chance to dine in Italy without the expense! Yet, not all seminars are educational. Hook, Wine & Dine’s goal is all about having an unforgettable fishing experience. After a full day of fishing along the Louisiana bayou, guests will dine on their own catches at Press Street Gardens. Of course, wine pairings are par for the course at this festival and so a master sommelier will be selecting drinks that match perfectly with the fresh poisson du jour. Hook, Wine and Dine will costs guests a steep price of $500 however.
ViNOLA! will be the first big event of the weekend, showcasing wines from all over the world. After that, the celebrations truly begin with the Royal Street Stroll. There, guests will follow along the Krewe of Cork (captained by revered winemakers themselves), flitting in and out of the galleries lining Royal Street while sipping on fine wine. Costumes are highly encouraged for this event! The following evening Mardi Gras World will be home to the Grand Tasting. Chefs and winemakers come together and offer up world-class food and wine pairings. Over 1000 vintages will be represented. The festival caps off with a spectacular finale, The Big Gateaux Show, where Pastry chefs will compete for a $5000 prize.
There are a variety of ticket packages for guests wanting to get all they can out of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. The first ticket package is The Tasting, which includes tickets to the Royal Street Stroll and the Grand Tasting. This package clocks in at price of $185. The next tier package is The Connoisseur, which attracts guests who are looking to get everything they can out of the festival. For $695, Connoisseurs will get access to ViNOLA!, Royal Street Stroll, Grand Tasting, The Big Gateaux Show, choice of 4 seminars and—to top it off—a signed Festival Poster. Finally, the VIP Connoisseur, which costs $985, is for the ultimate oenophile. The VIP package provides either early entry, priority seating, or VIP access to all events. And it goes without saying that VIP guests will be receiving a signed festival poster. Of course, no matter which package you get, be sure to expect a wicked hangover come Monday.
Be sure to check out all that the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has to offer this Memorial Day Weekend. You can purchase tickets and find out more information here.