Harvest season is underway across the northern hemisphere and with it comes food and wine festivals to tempt even the foodiest of palates. The South, known for its bourbon, barbeque and biscuits, knows how to throw a party. Beginning this weekend and running throughout the fall you can sample the South at a number of food and wine festivals from Thomas Jefferson's Montecello to Disney World's Epcot Center.
Heritage Harvest Festival
September 12-13, 2014
Historians agree that Thomas Jefferson was a complex man. A leader in the enlightenment era, he was fascinated with architecture and agriculture, as well as law and politics. He was renowned as a connoisseur of vegetable cuisine and endorsed plant experimentation and sustainable agriculture on his plantations. The Heritage Harvest Festival held annually at Jefferson's Monticello estate celebrates this legacy. Organized for the last eight years by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in partnership with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival is packed with fun, affordable, family-oriented activities, which include local food tasting, gardening and sustainability education, and the preservation of heritage plants.
The event opens on Friday night with a chef's dinner and keynote presentation by Aaron Keefer, the culinary gardener of the French Laundry, Thomas Keller's Napa Valley restaurant. On Saturday, Monticello's kitchen, restored to historic operation, will offer cooking programs featuring local foods and historic food practices. Saturday activities include a variety of educational programs such as regional cookery, edible landscaping, medical botanicals, organic gardening, and seed-saving. The restored Monticello gardens will be open for interpretive tours, while specialty tours covering native plants and natural history take place every hour.
September 19-21, 2014
Savoring the South couldn't get better with a name like Euphoria. Set in Greenville, S.C., a picturesque town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Euphoria exists to educate, entice, enlighten, and entertain. The region's premiere food and entertainment event was founded in 2006 by platinum-selling singer and songwriter Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski.
Even though the main event begins on Friday night, those in town on Thursday night can pre-party at one of two events, Swine and Dine at the Roost Restaurant, or the Songwriter's Recipe With the Cliffs.
Friday kicks off with its showcase food event, Taste of the South, along with several VIP and behind the scenes events.
Euphoria spreads all around Greenville on Saturday during a full day of tasting experiences, wine seminars (and tastings), beer gardens, cooking demonstrations and all-over town dining opportunities.
Sunday closes with a jazz brunch and then a culinary cook-off Southern style. The event closes with the Acumen Edge farm-to-table Sunday supper featuring a host of local and guest chefs.
Southern Ground Music & Food Festival
October 11-12, 2014
The charming port city of Charleston puts on a big show with its Southern Ground Music & Food Festival at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. The Southern Ground festival is produced each year by the Zac Brown Band and includes two days of music and food experiences. Each day includes performances by the Zac Brown Band, who closes each night with special sit-in jams with other acts on the bill. Sharing the stage at Southern Ground Charleston are Ashley Monroe, Blues Traveler, Gov't Mule, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Old 97's, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Wailers, Darrell Scott, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Boy & Bear and many more.
Front Porch Stage Boxes provide festival attendees with onstage seating and a gourmet meal prepared by a team of renowned chefs under the helm of Southern Ground executive chef Rusty Hamlin. Joining Hamlin as stage box chefs are Ken Vedrinski, executive chef, owner and sommelier of Trattoria Lucca and Coda del Pesce in Charleston; Patrick Owens, owner and executive chef of Langdon's Restaurant + Wine Bar in Charleston; Ry Cooper, host of the online television series "Chefs of Anarchy" and Iron Chef America battle chef, as well as owner and executive chef of Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C. and Gypsy Soul in Fairfax, Va.; and Kelly Kleisner, pastry chef of Oak Steakhouse in Charleston.
In addition to the culinary creations of the stage box chefs, stage box attendees are served complimentary beer, wine, liquor, and non-alcoholic drinks.
TerraVITA Food and Drink Festival
October 9-11, 2014
Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill is home to the Tarheels of UNC fame, but did you know it's a foodie town as well? TerraVITA Food and Drink Festival kicked off in October 2010 and has grown to be one of North Carolina's leading food events. TerraVITA's mission is to showcase the region's many excellent and sustainable foods and beverages in a festive environment.
TerraVITA takes pride in featuring biodynamic and sustainably-sourced wines from around in the world, along with organic and local craft brews, coffees, ciders and spirits. Food doesn't take a second place, though. Dozens of the region's finest chefs and food artisans will prepare meals and offer cooking demonstrations.
Among the offerings you can expect at TerraVITA are the Southern Harvest Dinner, which brings together chefs from several noted food destinations in the Southeast for a collaborative feast; the Sustainable Classroom which includes culinary workshops, food and beverage tastings and demonstrations, discussions and educational sessions; the Carolina Table: East Meets West Dinner, where eight chefs from the Carolina coast to the mountains collaborate to create a farm-to-table dinner; the Grand Tasting on the Green is the largest of the events and is centered around everything that can be chewed, sipped or slurped.
Music To Your Mouth
November 20-24, 2014
Palmetto Bluff - Bluffton, SC
As if the spectacular Inn at Palmetto Bluff isn't enough to lull one's senses into tranquility, the resort's Music To Your Mouth food festival draws renowned low-country chefs for five days of foodie heaven. Here you'll find such annual favorites as the Stink & Drink, the Pig Event, the Block Party, the Oyster Roast and the Culinary Festival. Music To Your Mouth organizers are excited about new 2014 events, which include the Smoke & Barrel Grace Cruise (think bacon and bourbon) and the James Beard Chef Dinner featuring five JBF award winning chefs, along with fabulous Kistler Wines. You'll not only find a beer garden here, but a bacon forest as well.
Two foods of place cooking classes are scheduled during the festival. Foods of Tennessee features Southern Foodways Alliance's John T. Edge, while you'll learn about Foods of Louisiana from Southern Foodways Alliance's John T. Edge.
The MTYM Culinary Festival wraps it all together with a gathering of culinarians, winemakers, growers, and artisans to celebrate the abundance of ingredients from local waters, woods and farms.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
September 27-November 10, 2014
Disneyworld, Orlando, FL
Where else but at Disney World can you find six whole weeks of food festivity that includes 30 daily events crossing international food borders? When stomachs are full from tasting, attendees can take in culinary demonstrations, celebrity chef lectures, wine seminars, mixology sessions, and cheese sampling.
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival's Eat to the Beat music series runs throughout the six week festival with a line-up of top musical acts performing daily.