Back in the early 1990’s, which probably pre-dates many of you actually being on this planet, a diverse group of New Orleans residents thought it was time to have a festival celebrating our cuisines and our collective love of wine.
That idea, to have a festival, is not so unique today as we seem to have one for everything imaginable, which is not a bad thing. I am not complaining. But back in those days, creating a festival was not so common as we enjoy now.
One of the main considerations in creating the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) was to promote tourism when none existed in a difficult season, the middle of summer. So, the first NOWFE took place 26 years ago, in the third weekend of July, hosting more than 200 attendees, and the rest, as “they” say, is history.
The date has moved to Memorial Day weekend; the festival has grown; more venues; more industry involvement and more folks from out of town but still the largest base is thirsty New Orleanians.
NOWFE’s current edition, the 26th, will start with winemaker dinners all over town on Wednesday, May 23, then a series of diverse events will be staged and the whole shebang will conclude on Sunday, May 27.
Of particular note for 2018:
- There are 26 restaurants for the Wednesday night dine-around, and each will feature winery principals sharing wines from all over the world with attendees, not to mention a classic meal created by some of New Orleans’ finest chefs;
- Vinola, a high-end wine tasting event taking place on Thursday afternoon, May 24, has filled the break-out room at the Omni Royal Orleans with fine wines, many boasting a minimum retail value of at least $75 per bottle. This event has become one of the most popular of NOWFE and always sells out at $185 per.
- Following the iconic Royal Street Stroll on Thursday, Seagram’s will be stepping up to the microphone at the Gold Mine Saloon on Dauphine for a kick-ass After-Party. Maybe you never thought you would ever enjoy a Flaming Dr. Pepper, adults-only version, at a wine festival, but, hey, why not?
- NOWFE returns this year to the traditional two Grand Tastings, one on Friday night and the other Saturday afternoon, both at the Convention Center, and offering more than 1,000 wines accompanied by food pairings from over 75 restaurants.
- An interesting range of extra-curricular experiences has been added to the program, including a sausage making demonstration with James Beard honoree, Steven Stryjewski of Cochon fame; a tour of notable wine cellars in the French Quarter; a morning of bowling and bubbly; an Oktoberfest celebration (yes, I am certain the NOWFE folks realize it’s May); and a bus tour with New Orleans’ wine bars as multiple destinations.
- The ever-popular but long abandoned Sunday Morning Brunch makes its resurrection this year with 10 restaurants participating.
Looks like the NOWFE folks have taken many of your suggestions to heart and are pumping new ideas into the mature event. Bravo for the effort!
All the details, and ticket sales either for combined activity packages or individual events, are at www.nowfe.com.
Recent years have seen a sell-out for many of the activities, so it does not make sense to wait to buy tickets if there is something you want to enjoy. See you at NOWFE!
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.