Five hundred and five bottles of wine and over 1,400 wine glasses are on the ready for this year’s Jackson Hole Food and Wine Winter Fest. And that doesn’t include the beer or the library selections from Peay Vineyards and Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
Entering its third year at Teton Village, Winter Fest is working to set the bar for comradery and sensation. Built around chef narratives and well-planned pairings, the weekend-long event offers a boutique setting for getting lost in the world of good eats and pretty pours.
The festival kicks off March 12 at Rendezvous Lodge with Big Wines, Small Plates: a tasty panel of culinary professionals. But the panel is not set to focus on the scientific discussion of tannins and different climates common to food festivals nationwide.
It’s about personal experience.
Food and Wine’s Founder and Director Megan Gallagher has traveled around the country, attending other food-centric events. While doing so, she said, she was looking for more.
“I wanted to hear more of the stories,” she said. Each chef who participates in Big Wines, Small Plates will be asked not to provide their latest recipe but rather share an “a ha” moment.
“The stories come in all forms, pictures, emails, texts and from there we look for a pairing based around the narrative and let Michael Britton from Piste and his team match the menu with six wines, one drink, appetizers and a full course meal,” Gallagher said.
The day after the panel, March 13, attendees can participate in a cooking class and the Taste of Teton Village. Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, the James Beard Award-winning chefs behind San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions will teach the class, which will be held in Il Villaggio Osteria’s private dining room. Thirteen beverage providers from across the world and 13 restaurant booths from across the West Bank will assemble at the Four Seasons later in the day for the tasting, serving up cocktails and mocktails.
The festival will continue Saturday with a “Pappy Hour” in Hotel Terra featuring the Old Rip Van Winkle’s iconic bourbons, and, later, a wine dinner in Piste Mountain Bistro.
“Chefs want to come to Jackson Hole and explore what we have,” Gallagher said. “This is a unique setting and we try to offer them as much as intimacy as we can. We’re striving for a unique type of hospitality.”
Participating chefs like Brioza and Krasinski are treated like guests with welcome dinners and introductions to the local food scene with enough time for in depth gastronomical discussion.
Winter Fest is not designed for the masses. Festival events all have limited tickets, including the closing wine dinner, which has a limit of about 50 guests. Part of the reason is to get the festival’s regular guests — those who aren’t chefs — out on the town. Or the mountain.
“We’re asked about full ticket packages and we say, just pick two events and go enjoy Jackson or go skiing,” said Gallagher, who said guests are usually about half locals and half out of towners. “We want good energy, abundance and for people to have a good evening.”
Tickets go on sale Tuesday and can be purchased at JHFoodAndWine.com. With the limited ticket availability, events are expected to sell out early. ￼