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Cornucopia cometh

Whistler’s biggest food and wine celebration turns five

Like red wine spilled on a white carpet, Cornucopia is not only growing, it’s here to stay.

Since the first event was held in 1997 in an effort to increase tourism in the off-season, the Cornucopia food and wine celebration has blossomed into one of the most important events of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Word of mouth, favourable reviews, industry talk and a promotional campaign are largely responsible for the increase in interest. While most of the tickets will be sold to locals and connoisseurs from the Lower Mainland and Washington, a growing number of people are coming from as far away as California.

Last year’s event was completely sold out, from the preview tasting on Thursday to the closing brunch on Sunday, and organizers are expecting more of the same this year. More tickets were made available to some of the key events, notably the annual Crush! Gala Grand Tasting.

The number of Crush! tickets was reduced to 600 last year to give people more elbow room. This year, there will be 1,000 tickets available, although the size of the venue at the Westin Resort and Spa has increased with the addition of the Aubergine Grill space.

"I would say that it’s become more prestigious over the years," says Michelle Comeau Thompson, manager for media relations at Tourism Whistler, Cornucopia’s founder and host. "Most of the 50 or 60 wineries that are taking part were here last year and are back again this year, which says a lot about the event. And the chefs that are taking part are really superstars in their world.

"It’s turning into a great event that really is a credit to Whistler."

Cornucopia is also gaining a reputation as a food and wine trade event, with industry-focused seminars and opportunities for people in the business to network.

"This year is a mix of favourites and new things," says Comeau Thompson. "We wanted to keep it fresh for people who have been coming year after year, but keep some of the events in that are always extremely popular, like the field trip to the North Arm Farm."

Cornucopia gets underway on Thursday, Nov. 8 and runs through to the Sunday, Nov. 11.

Thursday: A Mountain of Menus

The first event, and a first for Cornucopia, is A Mountain of Menus at the Aubergine Grill, which runs from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Hosts Vancouver Magazine and Western Living are inviting the media and consumers to attend a taste-a-thon to sample the cuisine of Whistler’s best restaurants. The cost is $55, but like all Cornucopia events, package deals are available.


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