Thursday, October 9, 2008

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

For anyone traveling to Orlando, or are looking for a reason to, Epcot at Disney has been hosting their annual International Food & Wine Festival since September 26. The event lasts until November 9th and integrates smoothly into Epcot's region theme. Want to try a Canadian wine - try the Chateau des Charmes Riesling or Ice wine. In addition, there's Polish Vodka, Bicardi run smoothies, as well as wines from Greece, South Africa, New Zealand, Austria, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Lebanon (Chateau Musar) , and even India.

Yes wines from India. They were pouring Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc from Sula Vineyards. The winery is located northeast of Mumbai, Nashik - India’s largest grape-growing region. However noone thought about growing wine grapes there until Rajeev Samant quit his hi-tech Silicon Valley job in 1993 to determine why. He convinced Californian winemaker Kerry Damskey that the climate was similar to winegrowing regions in Spain, California, and Australia. After planting French Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Chenin Blanc in 1997, they released their first wines in 2000. We really liked the Chenin Blanc and will start looking for a local distributor.

The United States was represented by New York wineries, in particular, Fulkerson Winery and Merritt Estate Winery. During the short time we spent at the booth several participants were raving about Merritt's Bella Rosa - made from lambrusco grapes - and Fulkerson's Airship White - made from Niagara grapes.

There are also several wine and beer seminars. The Samuel Adams Brewery hosts several daily sessions in the America region. Throughout the event there are seminars concerning Bordeaux, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Australia, Sonoma, Mendocina, Napa - even Irish Mead. Plus there are numerous book signings, bottle signings, food paring, and music. Every day a talented artist performs in the America Gardens Theatre ending with Los Lobos November 8th and 9th.

However, the best experience for us at Epcot had nothing to do with the wine festival. We were stranded in "Germany" due to a typical heavy Florida downpour. Fortunately there was ample supplies of Spaten Octoberfest beer and Germany Riesling. Unfortunately the beverages were much more expensive than the low cost samples being served in the rain. We also stumbled upon the German Weinbar - which poured samples of several German wine styles including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Lemberger, and ice wine. Make sure you examine the map showing the German wine growing regions. We were surprised to see Lemberger grown among the Riesling; we had assumed it would grow closer to Austria.

Needless to say, we had a great time at Epcot. Where else can you sample this diversity of wines, see Nemo and the Lion King, and race with GM. Fun for the entire family.

No comments: