San Antonio's long-running gastronomic party — formerly known as The New World Wine and Food Festival — enters its sixth year as the Culinaria Wine and Food Festival with fresh new events and a reimagined approach to some old favorites.
"As a result of San Antonio becoming such an acclaimed culinary destination, new and innovative restaurants are regularly popping up all over the city," says Culinaria president and CEO Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge. "This diverse influx of talent gives us more chefs to include on our roster each year, so the flavors are constantly changing. This also gives us the ability to have fun experimenting with themes each year."
One of the notable changes for 2016 is the festival's centralized location at La Cantera Resort & Spa. "We've outgrown many venues, so when the opportunity to host it at La Cantera Resort & Spa came up, we quickly hopped on board," says Taranto-Etheredge.
The Culinaria Wine and Food Festival returns May 19-22. Proceeds will help bolster the nonprofit's culinary scholarships and support its newest endeavor The Farm, an urban farming and educational food project. With a wide variety of dinners, tastings, and soirees, we've outlined four of our favorite events.
The Farm Dinner
The public can have a first glimpse at The Farm during The Farm Dinner on Thursday, May 19 with a multicourse meal prepared by Robert Fleming (Magnolia Pancake Haus), Jeff White (Boiler House), Luis Colon (Folc), Robbie Nowlin (Boudro's and Zinc), and Josh Cross (Toro Taco Bar). Wine pairings include Becker Vineyards and The Divining Rod presented by special guests Janice and Alycia Mondavi.
Back to Bubbles
The party continues on Friday at La Cantera with the return of Back to Bubbles, a poolside event that celebrates everything sparkling. "We took our bubbles event off the roster in 2014, but due to very popular demand, we brought it back last year as an exclusive preface to The Grand Tasting," says Taranto-Etheredge. "Demand was so overwhelming that this year we gave it more autonomy and a night all its own."
Tacos and Talk (and Tasting)
Saturday features a new addition to the festival, Tacos and Talk (and Tasting), a daytime fair complete with a queso fountain and salsa bar. One ticket gets you into the event's entire lineup of educational seminars and chef demonstrations, with topics ranging from Texas wines to mixology.
The Grand Tasting
Last but not least is The Grand Tasting, a sip-and-stroll affair on Saturday evening that brings some of the city's most notable chefs together along with a lineup of wine, craft beer, and cocktails. Organizers have restructured the event to accommodate the new venue, and added live music and more entertainment.
"The event's name gives us a lot to live up to each year," explains Taranto-Etheredge. "You want to make each event grander than the last, and after last year's success, all I can say without giving away too much is that this year will be the most sizzling one yet. As far as chefs go, we have our old friends such as Jason Dady and Robbie Nowlin, who've been with us every step of the way, and many fresh faces, like Sukeban's [Gerry] Shirley."
These are a handful of top picks for this year's festival. For more information, tickets to individual events, or festival passes, head to the Culinaria website.
Want more great stories like these delivered to your inbox daily? Then sign up for our emails.