Last updated: June 01. 2013 1:30PM - 489 Views
Anthony Gonzalez
Staff Writer

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A dozen years have passed since the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival took shape. Seven vineyards participated in the Yadkin Valley festival spanning Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes and small portions of Forsyth and Davie counties.

This year, 27 wineries will participate in the festival, according to the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“Right now it’s all about the wine festival here at the chamber,” said Misty Matthews, interim-president for the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce. “First and foremost the success of the festival can’t be done without our committee members and the tremendous effort they provide to help steer and coordinate the event. They have been so involved with the wine festival from the beginning.”

According to Matthews, most people who show up at the day-long event may not be completely aware that most of the work begins at planning sessions months earlier.

“As a committee, we meet 16 times a year, but meet twice a month in April and May,” said Matthews, who points to smaller sessions that take place in between. “Doing so allows everyone to collaborate and share ideas on making the event go without hiccups. These committee members run from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the festival just to make sure everyone is happy. However, they put in so much time prior, it’s unbelievable. That’s because they know how important this festival is for the region.”

The group discusses issues including: the venue, attendances, parking lots, ticket sales, restroom availability, and garbage disposal.

“Even before that, promotion of the event is a focus. Continuously getting the word out about the venue is vital, and that means tapping into relationships. It happens every day. Meanwhile, answering questions over the phone from people who call for information, putting together the program that maps out how visitors to the region can spend their time. It all requires constant attention and focus,” said Matthews.

Matthews pointed to coordination of crafters and vendors, saying that also takes a bit of work too.

“We try to keep the vendors selling items that are wine related: barrels, baked goods, cheeses, pottery from locals, candles, and food,” she said.

This year, the festival will have crab cakes, humus platters, and all of the items that connect with wine.

According to Matthews, sales are also important for the success of the event. Participating wineries do have a cost. They pay for their employees and for the wine they pour for tastings.

“In exchange, we do not charge them a fee. We do sell tickets to the event helping to raise revenue for the chamber, so this festival very much depends on how many people sign up and buy tickets, but how many people help buy wine too.”

Matthews said the wine check tent is always packed. She points to strong sales by wineries, though she doesn’t keep track of that data. Volunteer runners transport purchases from winery stations to the tent, thus allowing for consumers to keep shopping and enjoying other activities in the festival.

That also means enjoying entertainment.

“This year we didn’t want to go with a big name band,” said Matthews. “We wanted the music fresh and entertaining and want to give attention to local bands to showcase what they have to offer. In addition, we want the attention focused on the wineries. The festival has a nice balance of both.”

Music is provided by Natty Boh Duo playing from 11 a.m. until noon; Porch Dog Revival at 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.; Blues DeVille from 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m.; and L Shape Lot will perform from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.

“My favorite is Natty Boh Duo,” said Matthews. “Because whenever we have booked them in the past Mother Nature gives us sunshine.”

Rain or shine, the festival goes on, she says.

Tickets to the festival are available for $20 in advance. “Most people call our office or go to Lowe’s to get tickets,” said Matthews.

According to the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival website, food and non-wine beverages will be available for purchase from selected vendors. Anyone tasting, purchasing or consuming wine at the festival must be at least 21 years of age and be wearing a tasting wristband.

Wristbands available with paid admission and check of positive photo identification. Picnic tables are available for vendor-purchased food, lawn space is available for blankets, and bleacher seating is located in front of the bandstand. For insurance, health and safety reasons, pets are prohibited on the festival grounds. No outside coolers or outside alcohol may be brought into the festival.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or email at agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

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