The Kamloops Wine Festival is returning to the Colombo Lodge for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, with a portion of the proceeds from the event benefiting Western Canada Theatre.
Organizer Judy Basso, of Judy Basso Events, said now more than ever people are excited about gathering and having fun together.
"There will be wine, there will be food, and there will be fun,” Basso said.
“It has been 25 years since the first Kamloops Wine Festival, I've been producing this event since 2006. It's always a fun event for me, because so many people love wine. And it's just a great way to find your new wine, and have some fun with your friends.”
James MacDonald, Western Canada Theatre's artistic director, said the group is "thrilled" to work together with Basso to bring back the festival.
"We're so excited to be able to work with Judy and of course, to be the beneficiary of this event, which not only pairs in terms of what we enjoy doing in bringing our community together, but of course, as we recover from the pandemic, we have so many different areas of need in our organization that this will go a long way towards satisfying," MacDonald said.
The Kamloops Wine Festival will run from June 1 to June 3 at Colombo Lodge in downtown Kamloops. This year’s festival will kick off with a new event called Cheese the Day.
Basso said she met David Beaudoin, known as the Canadian Cheese Ambassador, at an out-of-province conference in January and knew he needed to be part of the local festival.
"He was so much fun, and extremely knowledgable about B.C. and Canadian cheeses and how to pair it with so many great food items as well as with wine,” Basso said.
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Guests will be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine while enjoying a raclette.
“That's just to get the evening started,” Basso said.
“Each place setting will also have a plate full of specially grilled cheeses, food items and specific wines that go with each set. You'll be guided through how to combine each and every grouping, and given the chance to fully experience the joys of wine pairing with amazing cheeses.”
She noted all the cheeses and food-related items will be available at Fresh Street Market, so attendees can put on their own cheese and wine pairing at home with friends.
Basso said the festival’s Grand Wine Tasting Party will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“It's a large hall filled with different kinds of wines and wine-related vendors. You wander around to all the different booths and you try whatever you want,” Basso said, adding there are vendors from Kamloops, the Okanagan and the coast.
“This is a great way for you to try the new wines — and you can actually order them this year.”
New for this year’s event, guests will be able to purchase their favourite bottles of wine by marking them on an order form and placing their order at a Landsdowne Liquor Store booth on-site. Orders will be available for pickup within a couple of weeks of the festival.
Basso said this is the first time this has been offered at the festival.
“It’s been an issue with government licensing and whatnot. ...For 25 years, we've never been able to do this,” Basso said.
“It’s a really nice thing to add on."
Basso said when she first started working on the wine festival, there were no wineries in Kamloops — but the industry has grown.
“We're very, very lucky to have some amazing wineries that are very well respected in the wine industry, and they produce some amazing wine. We’re going to be featuring them and a lot of the wines from all over B.C.,” Basso said.
“B.C. is a great place for wine, and we're celebrating it.”
Tickets cost just over $87 for the Cheese the Day event, and tickets for the Grand Wine Tasting Party are available for $75. A group rate of $65 is available when booking for five or more people.
Tickets can be purchased through the Kamloops Live! Box Office, online at kamloopswinefestival.ca, or by calling 250-374-5483.