The New World Wine and Food Festival gets underway on Wednesday, May 12, with Sip, Savor & Shop. Shop? Stop. What is happening?
Only four months ago we were cruising around the river bend, courtesy of JoAnn Boone of Rio San Antonio Cruises, enjoying appetizers from Boudro’s while listening to Richard and Bunny Becker talk about their vineyard’s wines, including their best-seller, the cleverly named Iconoclast. This was part of the 2009 version of the New World Wine and Food Festival.
But it seems that the festival has succumbed to the strong polar pull that makes San Antonio’s growth so lopsided. The festival is linking up with the Valero Texas Open, played on the AT&T Oaks Course, which means much of the festival occurs at the brand-spanking new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.
Sipping and savoring while saving on shopping at La Cantera, including the VIP Bubbles Event at Tiffany’s (sorry, no breakfast), will probably be extremely popular; as will Burgers, BBQ, Beer and Texas Spirits at the resort on May 13. The burger event should easily be a sell out in fact. It will appeal not only to those on retreat at the resort, but they are bringing in Robert Earl Keen, who attracts rather large numbers of rambunctious fans. Amazingly, the price for a package, including a spectator pass for Round One of the Texas Open, the 6 p.m. burger event and the Keen concert, is $55.
$55 also admits one to Round Three on Saturday, combined with The Best of Mexico, “celebrating all the treasures of high end Mexican haute cuisine,” and entertainment at the resort’s music pavilion. Hopefully, JW’s kitchen will be ready to pull all of this off by May (Read Ed Tijerina’s initial review .) and somehow manage to exude the San Antonio flavor the festival advertises.
Although JW does boast of its “1200-foot lazy river” – unlike the real thing, chlorinated – the New World Grand Tasting Friday night, May 14, takes place along the actual San Antonio River (well, technically an extension of it) in the Convention Center Lagoon. No golf package offered that day.
Ever since the time of King Tut, the common folk have swilled beer while the upper crust sips wine; so I guess it only makes sense to follow the money northward. Maybe this post is all sour grapes because I tend toward a phobia that Lynne Rosetto Kasper of Public Radio’s Splendid Table once referred to as oeno-something-phobia, defined as “fear of an empty wine glass.”
While the road might go on forever without the party ending for Robert Earl, Texas law dictates the party has to end when one has to drive forever to get back home. I prefer to walk into town to attend wine-centric events; no need to have a designated walker to return home.
The New World Wine and Food Festival organizers are trying to ease the pain for commuters by reducing the price for designated deprived ones:
To ensure a fun and safe time for everyone, The NWWFF* offers a special Designated Driver Ticket. These heroes help transport their friends and family to and from the festival safely. These guys pledge not to drink alcohol at our festival events, and are rewarded with 50% off admission special ticket! Designated Drivers enjoy all other aspects of the festival including great food, demonstrations and lectures, but any Designated Drivers found consuming alcohol during the event will be asked to leave. NWWFF continues our partnership with taxi services to provide alternate transportation for those who may need it.
Somehow I had envisioned the evolution of the Wine Festival centering around single-proprietor restaurants and the Culinary Institute of America at Pearl, not a Marriott Resort. But, no double bogey here, the festival probably is hitting the financial equivalent of a hole in one and will emerge securely in the black as a result of deciding to combine with the Texas Open. I only hope attendees get some sense of being in San Antonio.
The best way to make sure out-of-towners attending the Wine Festival experience San Antonio hospitality is to up and volunteer to extend it. They need you.
*The Wine Festival’s choice to use initials, not mine. Please discontinue. That alphabet-combo will remain meaningless for the public.