Local Wineries Join Annual Wine & Food Festival

By Barbara M. Houle

It’s a time to rub elbows with other foodies (you never know who you might bump into), dish with the chefs and learn about new wines hitting the shelves. Great craft beers, too. New to the festival will be Still River Winery in Harvard, producer of award-winning Apfel Eis apple ice wine.

Wade and Margot Holtzman own the family-run farmer winery, which won Best Beverage at the 2009 Taste of Nashoba Valley, Best Beverage 2009, Taste of Wachusett, Gold Medal, 2009 International Eastern Wine Competition and a silver medal at the 2009 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and the 2009 Big E North Gold Wine Competition.

Apfel Eis is made from a blend of local varietal apples and pressed without preservatives. Unlike wines and ciders made from apples, Apfel Eis has no sugar added before or after fermentation, according to Wade Holtzman, who said there are 80 apples in each bottle.

This wine is terrific.

Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield now distributes the wine in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is available at local outlets, including Austin Liquors. The owners often do tastings at retail locations, such as Wine Vine in Worcester and the Vin Bin in Marlboro. Visit www.stillriverwinery.com for upcoming events and general information.

Jenn Samek of Hardwick Winery, located on the Ware-Hardwick line, also is a newcomer to the event. She will pour five wines made from hybrid grape types, including the winery’s Massachusetts Cranberry, and a couple of semi-sweet wines.

Try to jot down names of wines you like at the tasting. Wines will be poured from many countries, with signature wines such as Carmenere from Chile, Malbec from Argentina, Albarino from Galicia, Spain, Shiraz from Australia, Presecco from Italy and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon . Champagne and port will be available for sampling.

Participating restaurants and businesses from Worcester: Baba Sushi, Bocado Tapas Wine Bar, Mezcal Tequila Cantina, The Citizen, Boston Pizza & More, Coral Seafood, Dino’s Ristorante Italiano, Edible Arrangements, El Basha Restaurant, EVO Restaurant, Good as Gold Coffee, The Bean Counter Coffee Bar & Bakery, Struck Catering, Savor/DCU, Polar Beverages, Piccolo’s, Peppercorn’s Grille & Tavern, Sweet, Haiku Sushi Restaurant Bar and Grill, On the Rise Baking, Webster House Restaurant and Atlas Distributing.

Also, Black Diamond Coffee, Willy’s Steakhouse Grill & Sushi Bar and India Café, all in Shrewsbury; Not Your Average Joe’s in Westboro; Oliver Wight Tavern at Old Sturbridge Village and the Publick House, both in Sturbridge; Pepper’s Fine Foods Catering in Northboro; Tastings Caterers and The Melting Pot, both in Framingham, and Vienna Restaurant & Historic Inn in Southbridge.

Don’t forget to check out the auction items. You also can bid online for some items.

Ready to party? I’m with you.

Chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers come together for the annual Worcester Wine and Food Festival, 5:30 to 9 p.m. March 1 in the DCU Center in Worcester.

Tickets are $45 per person; $400 per block of 10. Call (508) 756-7109, ext. 252, or visit www.worcesterjcc.org; tickets will be sold at the door. They also are available at Austin Liquors with locations in Worcester and Shrewsbury. The festival is presented by Austin Liquors.

Proceeds benefit financial scholarships for the JCC summer camp and after-school special programs.

Don’t miss the event!