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A Preview of the Asheville Wine & Food Festival from an Insider’s Perspective

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Photo Courtesy of Asheville  Food and Wine Festival

By Alexandra Proie

Bob Bowles, the Founder of Asheville Wine & Food Festival, is a busy man. The festival commences Aug. 20, so here are some last minute thoughts he was kind enough to give us. Happening August 20-24.

TLP: How is the festival planning going?
BB: It’s going perfect, we are on the train and the next station is the festival. It’s almost like a circus train in that there is a lot going on, a lot of different events. There are five days with different aspects of the festival every day.

TLP: Anything new for this year?

BB: Everything is new this year in different respects. Last year we had a bartender event and it has turned into our Elixir event – well we call it bartender magic. Part of that is that we have eight new distilleries coming to the festival in North Carolina and we have ten bartenders from the Asheville area who are our best bartenders. So people will be able to taste all of the different elixirs – or I should say, spirits. Carolina Rum, Cardinal Gin, Troy & Sons Whiskeys, Carriage House Apple Brandy, Blue Ridge Distilling Bourbon, and many other products are going to be up for sampling. The bartenders will be using those products to make a special drink using Angry Orchard Hard Cider to come up with a winning drink. The bartenders will be free to make their favorite drinks so guests can see what they make in their bars and restaurants.

Photo Courtesy of Asheville Food and Wine Festival

TLP: What is your favorite event happening during the festival?

BB: I think my favorite is Friday night SWEET. All of the chocolatiers and dessert makers and bakers and confectioners and sparkling wine gather alongside great music for a wonderful Friday evening. All of this is at the Grove Arcade – which is one of the most amazing Art Deco buildings, an incredible design. It’s a national monument. It will be a beautiful evening. Saturday is the Grand Tasting – a culmination of the food and beverage scene here in Asheville. There are 120 wineries in NC, and there will be 300 wines to sample and purchase at this festival. Over 20 local (and best) independent restaurants are coming to the Grand Tasting, providing food.

TLP: What sets the AWFF apart from other festivals?

BB: Asheville has quickly risen as one of the top foodie destinations where Southern hospitality meets eclectic and broad ranges of cooking styles with chefs who have trained all over the world – all in one place. You can hop around Asheville place to place exploring food but now it is all in the same place. It’s like taking a trip and never leaving the building. It’s a one place cover-all. No one comes away hungry or thirsty.