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State of Great

Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest Celebrates 25 years
Written by Lois M. Rodriguez. Photographs by Kevin Stillman.

FoodWIne07Fredericksburg can claim its delectable peaches and celebrate its status as the epicenter of Texas’ wine tourism. Not only that, but each October for the last 25 years, the town throws its arms wide open to embrace wines and foods from all across the state.

Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest

For tickets ($25) and more information, including details on author Lois Rodriguez’s Grape Expectations Cooking School session (3:15 on Oct. 24), call 830/997-8515.

The Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest opens up the world of Texas’ tasty treasures in one celebratory setting—the Marktplatz (or Market Square) in historic downtown. With music as a backdrop, attendees have a chance to explore, first-hand, the breadth of the state’s rapidly growing wine and culinary scene.

About 27 years ago, long before Texas wines had begun to receive international attention, the late Bell Mountain Winery owner Robert Oberhelman approached the city chamber about hosting a food and wine event. His timing was perfect, as city leaders were making plans to turn Marktplatz into a vibrant community space. Oberhelman’s suggestion presented a fundraising opportunity to help turn their vision into reality.

With that marriage of ideas, the Fredericksburg Market Square Redevelopment Commission sprang into action and the Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest took shape. To this day, all proceeds from the event go toward enhancements, replacements, and additions to the plaza. The original mission—to spotlight a burgeoning wine industry and feature only products from within Texas boundaries—holds true.

“Our mission and our goal was to invite Texas wineries from all across our great state,” says event coordinator Deborah Farquhar, who expects at least 5,000 attendees this year.

“It’s about cultural diversity and experiencing the great Texas wines and culinary treasures, and it’s about celebrating what the Texas Hill Country has become—a food and wine destination. At the Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest, you have an intensive few hours where you can immerse yourself in everything,” continues Farquhar. “There’s the Grape Expectations Cooking School, where you’ll meet four fabulous chefs. Then you can go to the wine area and sample varieties from 25 different wineries.” Six of those wineries have been with the festival since its inception.

Craft beers are experiencing a resurgence, too, and the Food and Wine Fest has not lost sight of that. For the fourth year, the fest also showcases Texas craft breweries, including Pedernales Brewing Co., Real Ale Brewing Company, Spoetzel Brewery, and Saint Arnold Brewery.

A tented maze of booths near the entrance entices attendees with displays of lamb, beef, olive oil, cheeses, nuts, and a variety of Texas-made jams, jellies, and salsas. Crowds queue up to sample the wares and shop.

In between sumptuous bites, you can immerse yourself in a sea of Texas artistry from handmade jewelry, soaps, and spa products to natural wood furniture, yard art, and wine accessories. Just follow the scent of the soothing lavender.

While you sip and sup, live music from Texas-based bands on the nearby entertainment stage creates a festive soundtrack. This year’s roster includes reggae outfit Mau Mau Chaplains, Latin band El Tule, the Frank Gomez Band, and singer/songwriter Josh Dodds.

“We’re all about Texas. Texas, Texas, Texas!” Farquhar reiterates.

Some new things to look for include “25 at 5,” a multicourse meal prepared and shared for 25 ticket holders in an intimate Marktplatz setting. Guest chef Josh Raymer, owner of JoJu Bakery in Fredericksburg, hosts the event at 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Also new is the 25th anniversary package that includes access to all festival events including the Grape Expectations Cooking School; Thursday night Go Texan dinner and wine at Messina Hof; “A Celebration of Texas Food and Wine” at Wildseed Farms on Friday; and a Walk Across Texas-themed Saturday Patron brunch at the Marktplatz.

Festival chairperson Shelley Britton says the “wine and culinary scene has grown dramatically in Fredericksburg over these years—and the Food and Wine Fest is a reflection of that growth. The event itself has become a tradition that people look forward to every year.”

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