Small bites: Asheville Wine, Food Fest changes

A WEEKEND OF TREATS: "We’ve found a model that works, and each year it grows in attendance," says Kris Kraft, director of Asheville Wine and Food Festival. Photos by Julie McMillan (left) and Kat McReynolds

“It always makes it tons of fun to say we get to eat dessert first,” says Kris Kraft, director of Asheville Wine and Food Festival. Now in its eighth year, the two-day event will once again kick off with Sweet, an evening highlighting the work of local bakers, chocolatiers, patissiers, wine vendors and brewers.

The Friday night gathering will take place at the Grove Arcade. In addition to samples of regional treats, wine and coffee, the Reggie Sullivan Band will perform a mix of jazz and rock. “It will begin very ambient,” says Kraft of the band’s set. “But they’ll pump it up throughout the evening, ending with quite a bit of fun, danceable music.”

The following afternoon, nearly 200 vendors will fill all three floors of the U.S. Cellular Center for the Grand Tasting. As in previous years, guests will have the opportunity to sample the wares of local and regional restaurants, wineries, breweries and artisan food producers. There will also be plenty of cooking demonstrations, author book signings and blind beer and wine tastings.

Unlike in the past, the 2016 Grand Tasting will not include the Chefs Challenge cooking competition. “We found that it ran its course,” says Kraft. “What we’ve decided to do this year is to reach out to chefs all across the Southeast” to offer cooking demonstrations in three kitchen areas sponsored by Kitchen & Company, Williams-Sonoma and FRS Asheville.

The event’s layout has also changed. “Because of our limited space and the amount of growth that we had, we removed the VIP area off of that main footprint, so that we could pack even more vendors in for everybody,” Kraft says. She adds that all vendors invited to the festival are “industry-relevant.”

“Our general mission,” Kraft continues, “is to highlight the fabulous food and beverage scene that is Asheville. We appreciate the support that we get every year.”

The Asheville Wine and Food Festival is Friday-Saturday, Aug. 19-20. Sweet runs 8-10 p.m Friday, Aug. 19, at the Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave. Tickets are $50. The Grand Tasting is 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at the US Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St. General admission tickets are $65. VIP tickets offer early entrance at 1 p.m. with exclusive third-floor access and an after party 4-7 p.m. VIP tickets cost $100. For details, visit

Gan Shan Station’s Sunday Supper Dinner Series

Chef Daniel Heinze (formerly of Charleston’s McCrady’s) will join Gan Shan Station’s chef Patrick O’Cain for the restaurant’s second installment of its ongoing Sunday Supper Series. Oskar Blues Brewery will provide speciality beer pairings for a fixed-price, three-course menu that will include various Asian-themed entrées, small plates and desserts. Guests will have the option to choose one dish from each course. Ingredients from local purveyors Paper Crane Farms and The Culinary Gardener, among others, will be featured. Additional dates for the series will be announced soon.

The next Sunday Supper runs 5-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at Gan Shan Station, 143 Charlotte St. Cost is $45 per person, including tax, gratuity and beverages. To learn more, contact Gan Shan Station at 774-5280 or

Appalachian Appetite

Appalachian Appetite returns for its second year with a food photo contest that looks to capture family recipes. “These dishes help define who we are, [dishes] that bring back memories as soon as we smell them,” says organizer Mark Lynn Ferguson in a  press release. Ferguson hosts the contest on his blog The Revivalist: Word from the Appalachian South. Those who submit entries to the contest will be eligible to win a two-night getaway at the historic Mast Farm Inn. Two runners-up will win one-year subscriptions to Smoky Mountain Living magazine.

To learn more about the contest, visit

Sanctuary Brewing Co. anniversary

On Sunday, Aug. 21, Sanctuary Brewing Co. will celebrate its first anniversary with festivities and live music by Town Mountain. In its first year, Sanctuary has raised nearly $3,000 for a number of organizations, including Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Blue Ridge Humane Society, The Turtle Hospital, Earthshine Nature Programs and Full Circle Farm Sanctuary. With a rotating list of 16 handcrafted beers, Sanctuary Brewing will also compete in this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

The festivities begin at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Ave. E., Hendersonville. Town Mountain performs at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and include a commemorative beer glass. For more information, visit

The Cheese Store of Asheville pairs with Blue Ghost Brewing Co.

The Cheese Store of Asheville is teaming up with Fletcher’s Blue Ghost Brewing Co. for Beer & Cheese 101. The event will involve four guided pairings, led by cheese and beer experts from both organizations.

Beer & Cheese 101 happens 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at Blue Ghost Brewing Co., 125 Underwood Road, Fletcher. Tickets are $15 and are available at


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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One thought on “Small bites: Asheville Wine, Food Fest changes

  1. boatrocker

    Kudos Kris, way to tell the band exactly what to play for them not telling you what to cook.

    Shoulda booked a DJ.

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