With 23 years of well-planned events behind them, one might think that organizers of the annual World Wine & Food Expo could be tempted to coast on past success. But Expo Chairman Bill Vance insists that attempting to stay in front of national wine trends, rather than simply following them, is the key to keeping this annual event at the forefront of Canadian wine shows. By any standard, the slate of new announcements for this years’ Wine Expo is ambitious.
“When we get an idea in our head, it’s hard to ignore. If we think improvements can be made, we want to make them immediately … not wait until
someone else does it first,” says Vance.
As in past years, the majority of the 350+ wines available for tasting and buying will be new to New Brunswick wine enthusiasts. However the organizers of this year’s Wine Expo have many more new features to announce. The most visible for many online Wine Expo fans will be a dramatic new website launching today, October 2nd. Vance says the transition was necessary given current technology trends.
“In the near future, more people will access information on their smartphones and tablets than on a home or office based computer, and we need to transition our website to ensure a smooth online experience for those consumers,” says Vance. “Using the existing wineexpo.ca website, people will now have all of the functionality we need to deliver but with a much more user friendly phone and tablet experience.”
Also in the works is a new ‘app’ that Vance thinks will surprise Wine Expo attendees as well as liquor boards in the other Atlantic Provinces.
“We worked hard to develop a smartphone app a few years ago but this year the we have partnered with Natalie MacLean, Canada’s award winning, national wine writer.”
Ms. MacLean has developed a free app to be used at the Wine Expo that will allow consumers to scan a bottles’ bar code and get bilingual tasting notes.
“This is a very cool app that will also allow people to add the wine to a shopping list if they like it, and add it to their own personalized wine cellar if they buy the wine,” says Vance. The free app is available via the wineexpo.ca website.
While acknowledging that this is a highly complex project that has provided many IT challenges for Alcool NB Liquor, Vance says the effort will all be worth it. If everything goes according to plan, the free app will also be usable after the Wine Expo for every wine available in the province. Only Ontario, BC and Quebec have this technology thus far and New Brunswick will be the first ‘small market’ province to have access to the technology.
In addition to tech initiatives, this years’ Wine Expo will once again partner with the Frye Festival to bring a top Canadian Chef into Moncton for a book launch. With an increasing focus on fresh and local foods, the message of this year’s celebrity Chef is very much in vogue. Chef Jamie Kennedy is truly a Chef’s Chef! He is the Chef most often cited with bringing focus to the importance of caring where your food comes from, knowing your local farmers and eating well. He is the only Chef to win the Order of Canada for his efforts. While quieter in his career than many TV personalities, Chef Kennedy has never wavered from his dedication to local food initiatives.
While in Moncton, he will be promoting his first new cookbook in over 10 years. Vance describes the cookbook as ‘a love song to food, family and friends’. A dinner featuring Chef Kennedy and his recipes as well as some of the best value wines of the Expo is scheduled for Thursday, October 30th at the Crowne Plaza. Their Executive Chef Brad Strugnell shares the principles of Chef Kennedy and is thrilled to be working with him.
Another dinner, the annual opening-event Prestige Tasting is scheduled for Saturday, October 25th at the Crowne Plaza. It offers an incredible nine-course meal accompanied by thirteen different wines. Vance says this is the most ambitious meal he has helped plan in the history of the Wine Expo. In addition, an exciting new dinner sponsored by Moncton BMW to benefit the Friends of the Moncton Hospital is scheduled for Wednesday, October 29th at the Moncton Coliseum. Recent Chopped Canada champion Chef Matt Pennell will be massaging the ingredient list from his winning Food Network showing to deliver a stunning meal paired with great wines.
New this year on the seminar front are two ‘food first’ seminars that will focus on the hotter current food trends, Gluten-free and Vegetarian cooking. Of course both will be paired with Wine Expo wines. In addition, a seminar led by the winemaker at Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge winery will showcase the incredible quality of wine now being made in our region.
“The Benjamin Bridge wines have been wowing national wine judges and writers and we have their winemaker in town to make this presentation,” says Vance. “This should be a real eye-opener for wine lovers.”
With over 350 wines available for tasting at the ever-popular four Grand Tasting sessions, Vance expects demand for tickets to be very high. Last year, some events sold out in less than two minutes. For this reason, tickets are only available online until Monday, October 6th.
In addition, a long-term scheduling conflict related to organizers not wanting to schedule any events on Remembrance Day means that for the first (and last) time, two Grand Tasting sessions are scheduled on Halloween. Unfortunately, due to safety and security concerns, costumes or any form of face covering, masking or painting will not be permitted in the Grand Tasting. The Grand Tastings are scheduled for the Moncton Coliseum Complex on Friday, October 31st and Saturday, November 1st and will feature over 350 wines. Tickets are $59.50 per person (incl. all taxes and ticket fees).
All tickets go on sale Saturday, October 4th at 10 AM exclusively on the tickets.moncton.ca website.
A complete list of seminar, wine dinner and other event information can be obtained at www.wineexpo.ca.