A representative from Gray Monk Estate Winery pours a sample during a recent festival in Castlegar.

A representative from Gray Monk Estate Winery pours a sample during a recent festival in Castlegar.

New wineries have fest organizers pumped

Several first-time wineries on tap for wine festival.

When you ask what gets Castlegar Wine Festival organizers Alexia Turner and Sandy Hartman fired up about this year’s event — set for April 1 at the Castlegar Complex — it doesn’t take long to get an answer.

“We have some first-time wineries this year… actually eight new wineries. It’s really exciting that we have SOAHC from Fruitvale [attending],” Turner said.

In all, there will be 36 wineries coming from the Okanagan, Creston, Trail, the Shuswap, and they are all bringing a variety of wines, Turner said.

This year marks the 18th annual festival, and it has become the must-attend event for vendors and the public alike.

“The wine reps… many of them come every year and it’s word of mouth now, ‘you have to go to the Castlegar Wine Festival because it’s the best,’” Turner said.

It may seem daunting for first-time attendees, but it’s quite straightforward.

When you arrive, you get your program — which has space for note taking — and all of the wines and wineries are listed in the program in the same order as the tables.

“All you need to do is get a glass, a program and start sampling wines,” Hartman said.

The glasses are engraved with the year, the Rotary emblem and the name of the winner of the wine glass raffle.

There are, on average, four to six wines per winery, and Turner notes that you cannot possibly sample everything in the room. Well, not without being carted out on a stretcher.

“We’re always promoting it as an educational evening. There are spill buckets on the tables as it is a tasting,” Turner noted.

If the opportunity to sample fine local wines isn’t enough of a draw, the enormous silent auction will feature a wide variety of prizes.

“We started small and grew quickly. The businesses are so supportive. Last year for the silent auction we had 129 items, so we can’t say enough about businesses in Castlegar, Nelson and Trail,” Turner said.

Alligator Pie Catering will be serving appetizers throughout the evening, and they try to do pairings.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and are open to 10 p.m. It is a “safe ride home” event, where volunteers drive you and your car home if needed.