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TasteUSA’s Newest Festival Under Management – Chesapeake Oyster & Wine Festival
Chesapeake Oyster & Wine Festival – A Shucking Good Time with Wine! is TasteUSA’s newest food and drink festival under management.
After 3 years specializing in the food and drink festival management and organization of events in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia regions, we have added our newest festival – and now we’re in Maryland! On September 22nd and 23rd, 2018 we’ll be taking our newest concept – combining the popularity of Chesapeake Seafood and especially Virginia and Maryland Oysters with both local, domestic and international wines into a fun new festival. Chesapeake Oyster & Wine Festival was developed after the success of the VA Oyster Pavilion which was added to the Virginia Wine Festival® in 2016 and 2017 to immense success.
Wine festival lovers today want more than just quality wine – they want gourmet food items and Virginia oysters are the perfect addition to a top regional food and drink festival. We have taken that idea one step further by creating our newest Maryland seafood festival – The Chesapeake Oyster & Wine Festival puts the seafood category in front of the wine festival to target both the seafood “foodie” who loves oysters but also is interested in learning about wine and the wine lover who is curious about Virginia, Maryland and Chesapeake oysters and seafood.
Great Food Trucks – But a New Twist: The Bloody Mary Pavilion
Charlie Adler, TasteUSA’s owner and festival organizer noticed a new trend among Millennials at recent festivals – more than just a fascination with all things local and “foodie” – a desire to “brunchify” events. Washington, D.C. is known as a brunch city, but the trend has spread to food and drink festivals – Brunchcon, Atlanta Brunch Fest and a slew of new festivals capitalizes on the fun excitement of eating brunch and sipping cocktails. The Bloody Mary Pavilion was added to the MD wine and seafood festival as a play on brunchifying festivals.
Upcoming TasteUSA Managed Food and Drink Festivals:
Chesapeake Oyster & Wine Festival – A Shucking Good Time with Wine
September 22nd and 23rd, 2018, 137 National Plaza, National Harbor, MD
43rd Annual Virginia Wine Festival®
October 13th and 14th, 2018, Arlington Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209
Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival
February 23rd, 2019, The Showroom DC, 1099 14th St., NW (1st Floor), Washington, D.C. 20005
3rd Annual Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival
2019 Location TBD
Charlie Adler, Founder
TasteUSA Festival Event Management
“I Drink on the Job”
Taco ‘Bout Fun – Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival is Back for our 2nd Year!
We’re Back – Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival is back for our 2nd year at the Yards Park, 136 N St., SE, Washington, D.C. on May 12th, 2018!
We’re Super Excited to have more Great Taco Vendors – many are returning from last year, but we’re also adding some interesting new taco makers who want to showcase that the taco is more than just a Tuesday thing! You can purchase your tickets at Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival Tickets – this is a 2 Session Event on Saturday. $45/person is General Admission which includes 3 hour access to the Festival, 4 Taco Tickets (good for all tacos), 1 Margarita and 8 – 5 oz. beer samples. Tequila Ticket is also 3 hour access, 5 Taco Tickets, 1 Margarita and 10 – 5 oz. beer samples and also includes 10 – 1 oz. Tequila/Mezcal samples within the Tequila Pavilion. VIP is 4 hour access (1 hour early), 5 Taco Tickets, 1 Margarita and 10 – 5 oz. beer samples, 10 – 1 oz. Tequila/Mezcal samples within the Tequila Pavilion, Private tent with private bathrooms and a special rare Tequila Tasting.
Get Your Tickets before this is Sold Out – last year we have over 4,500 people and this year we have a much better date in May. As Always…
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I’m Baaack!! OK, so some interesting changes – I now have organized/managed two festivals – The Virginia Wine Festival (R) and the Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival – the 1st event came to me seeking new management, the 2nd one I created from scratch. There have been many ups and downs since 2016 when I took over the Virginia Wine Festival Management and completed the Taco Festival – hopefully the learning curve will help me better manage the future!
1)Managing people is the hardest part of event management for an outdoor festival – I thought that by hiring outside “guns for hire” as the Logistics specialists for an event that I could handle all event issues. Although I think both Logistics teams did a better than average job, they weren’t personally invested in the event and it became obvious on event dates.
2)Event marketing can work 100% digital. I was told by the Association that holds the rights to the Virginia Wine Festival that I would probably have to use some traditional media such as radio, print, and ticket give-aways as a means to successfully selling enough tickets. Since I already have a substantial active email list with TasteUSA I decided to use that email list, Facebook and Google Adwords. The Results were overwhelming – most event consumers, especially younger Millennials use Google and online means to find events and purchase tickets. Eventbrite ticketing, Facebook and Adwords pixels and email marketing in general are the hot buttons for consumer ticket sales.
3)Generic Events make no sense in a competitive environment – Sure, I could have just taken over the Virginia Wine Festival and left everthing the same – but why not add Virginia Oysters – better yet, why not create “an event within an event” – the VA Oyster Pavilion? By adding a new marketing “twist” I took an existing event and made it a wine AND food festival. So I created a Taco Festival – but why not add the “Tequila Pavilion”? Generic beer and wine festivals with no interesting food or story line will in my opinion have to keep lowering their ticket prices in order to compete with more and more “me too” events.
Great to be in touch with my foodie readers again – keep on eating and drinking the good stuff!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
American Whiskey is Hot right now..but Whisky (the spelling in the UK .. ) is also on the comeback run – especially Scotch!
Whisky Live is coming back to New York and Washington, D.C. -the Whisky Live DC Event has special $99 priced Tickets Here and it’s on Saturday, March 5th, 2016. If it’s close to last year’s quality, it’s a steal..On the other hand, if money is no object, or you really want to step up your game, if you’re in Washington, D.C. the same week, you could also attend the 1st Year for Washington, D.C. WhiskyFest on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 put on by the Wine Spectator/Malt Advocate people. This event Sells Out every year in other markets (in Chicago it sells out in less than 1 day!), because it’s frankly worth it! Yes, the ticket is $245 (which says Early Bird – but I think that price will remain until it’s Sold Out..), but you truly get what you pay for!
Some more interesting whisk(e)y events coming up in March 2016 include a Distillery University 5 Day Hands-On Workshop in Spokane, Washington. It’s priced at $1,999 (the price goes up to $2,499 on February 22nd) which is actually very reasonable – I’ve seen some of these workshops sell for $5K and above..and if you figure in that they have alot of great experts teaching the class – Plus you get hands-on at an actual Distillery – Tinbender Craft Distillery – what a great way to become part of the Craft Spirit Revolution!
On Saturday, March 12, 2016, the Washington Distillers Guild presents the South Sound Spirits Gathering at the Olympic Flight Museum in Tumwater, WA.
Looking around the rest of the U.S. for craft spirit events and festivals: NYC will have both the Whiskies and Spirits Conference and Whisky Live – New York the same week – February 23rd and 24th, respectively at Chelsea Piers. The Week after on March 3rd is the 7th Annual Good Spirits which is also chefs and cocktails.
The Illinois Craft Distiller’s Guild is holding Distillinois at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago on March 1, 2016 – it will feature almost exclusively craft distillers from Illinois. WhiskeyFest Chicago sold out in a matter of minutes, but it’s being held March 18th at the Hyatt Regency.
Friday, March 4, 2016 hop in your private jet and head over to Las Vegas for the Nth Ultimate Whiskey Experience at the Encore at the Wynn – truly a high-roller event with tickets starting at $525 – but you can spend way more if you add on some more unique experiences offered!
Heading to California, San Jose has the Whiskies of the World on Thursday, March 24th at the San Pedro Square Market and Whiskies of the World San Francisco on Saturday, March 26th at Pier 3 on the Embarcardero.
April has a few more Spirits events – but that will be a future posting – Cheers to the recognition of a major shift in America’s drinking habits!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Saw this wonderful article on “Foodcations” in Thrillist – and it makes total sense! The new vacation is all about experiences and having unique moments that are extraordinary or at least entertaining. Not just for Foodies, but for pretty much all travelers who are looking for the next cool experience, there is nothing more amazing than discovering the next local donut shop, tasting the newest local craft beer or cocktail, or making chocolate in a local chocolate factory – these are just too much fun NOT to do!
The article also mentions that being a “hipster” or “Foodie” is just a label and doesn’t really say that much – in other words, everyone has some “hipness” or “foodieness” – it’s really a matter of degree. I am a serious Foodie – and like many serious Foodies I want to taste my way through a city – food festivals, cooking classes, food tours, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, wineries and all that I can get my mouth around – so to speak! This is essentially why I started TasteUSA – as a way for me to make a living and enjoy what I feel most passionate about.
So what should you do on your Foodcation?
1)Plan according to your date and time first. You probably aren’t going to travel very far outside your region (say more than 100 miles) unless you have the time and probably some kind of hotel or AirBnB involved, so take that into account first. Pretty much any place can be a foodcation destination, so their’s vast flexibility after this.
2)Be creative. Depending on if you’re an “adventure-seeker” or pretty limited in your culinary interest/prowess, you can find something fun, foodie and will kill 3 hours or so of time. I always choose a basic interest – food or drink – and then Google that interest with the region. For example, say I’m visiting Philadelphia – I recently had plans to attend the Valley Forge Beer and Cider Fest just outside Philly. When I went to the site, I realized that Valley Forge was close to a town called “Phoenixville, PA”. I AirBnb’d the region, found an affordable room in the region and discovered that Phoenixville – population somewhere around 2,000 people – actually has it’s own downtown, Brewery, Wine tasting room, Cidery and Distillery – whooaaahhh!! I ended up visiting the Brewery – Stable 12 Brewing Company – for a flight of beers and then I also ended up going to a most unique experience: the Firebird Festival – essentially a Bacchanalian burning of a wood pyre shaped like the legendary “Phoenix” bird – and of course, there were tons of food trucks nearby! . The next day for lunch I found on Yelp that there was an outdoor Texas BBQ truck with highly rated BBQ – so that was a no-brainer for lunch!
3)Google, but Add Other Online Resources as You Go. Yelp of course is a fantastic resource for Restaurants and related food businesses. But you should also check out the local brewery/winery/distillery sites – and of course add TasteUSA to the mix for fill-in. Each State often has it’s own winery/brewery/distillery associations but the quickest way to find out is to Google “winery map” or a related search – normally, this will take you right to the State Association’s page and save you some time. Even as simple a search as “City/wineries” can be an amazingly fruitful return of excellent usable data. I didn’t end up going to any wineries on my Phoenixville foray, but there is a PA Wineries Association.
4)Talk to Actual People. I know, so Old School – but your locals often know a thing or two about their Region! Personally, I meet the most interesting and informative people in a bar, but you may have a family and that may not be your type of destination. I met some nice people at the Stable 12 Brewing Company over beers and they told me about the region and what was happening in Phoenixville – turns out that it’s kind of a hip new destination spot as a bedroom community to the Philly Region and that’s why there is so much desirable development going on!
5)Leave Time to Explore. Too many travellers have to have every moment planned out – but it’s amazing what you can do with an Iphone and a little free time. It’s way more fun to sketch-out an itinerary and once you arrive to make adjustments to your plan. Obviously if you want to go to a highly desirable restaurant, you’ll want to get an advanced Reservation (the biggest headache of travelling without a plan – but now there are apps coming out that may fix that as well..), but keeping an open-mind and exploring is way more fun than planning events that you and your fellow travellers may not actually want to do. I actually discovered the Phoenix Firebird Festival purely by accident – and this is a Big Deal to the locals!
I hope this is a helpful resource for your next Foodcation – remember, that no matter if you’re a Foodie or not, you have to eat and drink when you travel, so it’s always a good primary or secondary focus. Online resources are swelling for food and drink – from locating restaurants and getting reservations to food allergies, so use some of your existing daily resources as well. Have fun on your next trip – Cheers!
Some Ideas for Future Foodcations (and excellent for Googling):
-Chocolate Factory Bean-to-Bar Tour
-Bread Making Workshop
-Food and Drink Festival (Bacon, Beer, Wine, Oysters, etc..)
-Food Tour of the Area (quick Resource is www.zerve.com )
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Yummy in Your Tummy at Emporiyum at Union Market’s, Dock 5 – one of the last events at this foodie destination!
I attended my first Emporiyum on Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Washington, D.C. and found a boatload of new artisans and stories of small local food artisans. My first impression of this event designed to be a “Meet Eat Shop” by the organizer’s pen was one of slight fear – I don’t mind crowds, but I am fearful of children running loose and amok around Foodie adults. No worries – for whatever reason, the kiddies were pretty well-behaved – this is likely because the adults were in their own fantasy land, and the children knew better than to ruin Foodie Mommy’s chance to feast on chocokombuchanola and other treats!
Emporiyum comprised the major food categories, those categories being chocolate, booze and pork and some other delicious fillers like candy (had some awesome caramels from Mouth Party Caramels – I think these should be a food category as well!) and of course Kombucha – I think Craft Kombucha and other makers of this fermented/pro-biotic spritzed up to reduce the actual vinegary taste product are on to something – another relatively new drink category – tonics. I of course needed a cocktail (it was after noon of course!) and the wonderful True Tonics gentleman took goo care of me! Some other noteworthy beverages:
Thunderbeast – no booze in this, but this is root beer with character!
Charm City Meadworks – I said tonic, right? Well this is honey-based and alcoholic – honey+alcohol=deliciousness – and you don’t have to mix it! Use this with a little water or lemonade spritzer after a hot yoga workout to revive you – yes!
One Eight Distilling – Max said Hi and remembered me – that and the fact they make great white whiskey and gin .. I stopped by at their facility nearby after the show, and I can barely remember the rest of the day!
Rujero Singani – Singani..the next Pisco..
Element Shrub – yes, it’s vinegar based..but for us vinegar lovers, I’ve always wondered how lemonade vs vinegarade would taste – hey, acid is acid, lemons are not local, use local made vinegar in your ade’s first.
And of course, I have to talk about Route 11’s potato chips – here’s a great recent article in the Washington Post about Sarah Cohen and how her family started this Regional chiphouse. And this was a twofer..right around the corner was Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Cohen, Sarah’s brother with his food business – Bullfrog Bagels and this tagline “Great people, making great food, for great people. #CARPEBAGEL” – just plain weird, but hey the Bagels are really Great!
So many great foods and drinks – I was most impressed by the visual presentation of Buredo – I kept wondering why a Sushi bar was in the middle of Emporiyum and then it struck me – this is the new sushi/burrito mashup that will probably storm America just like donut bacon cheeseburgers and cronuts – Americans just love mashups – I mean, we invented peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
My conclusion on Emporiyum? It was a fun romp among about 100 food vendors which covered more than just snacky snacks but both real food and real drink. I’d prefer the event if it were 21 and over, but the kids seemed to be in designated areas (event organizers take note – parents and kids seem to need to sit – those alarming outbursts that seem to happen at the most opportune times don’t last long – give this stressed out demographic side seating!). If you paid $15 or whatever (hey, LivingSocial had a deal, so don’t bitch if you didn’t get one!) you shouldn’t expect a free meal – another peave of mine – the “I bought a ticket and it’s a free-for-all-stuff-your-face-get-my-money’s-worth” crowd should get over it, and expect to dish out an additional $15-$25 for lunch and snacks. This is also essentially a bazaar/emporium so a great time to stock up on snacks and other gourmet foods. There were easily 1,000+ people at the event, but crowd control was good – I think the fact that the event was 4 to 5 hours long made people realize that nothing would run out – I also went on Day 1 a Saturday which is often a madhouse, but again, people seemed pretty well behaved. The demographic was solid female 20 and 30 something and my impression is they loved it – a great day out, shopping, munching, and hanging with friends. Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Taste Ambassador, TasteUSA
Saperavi — Mtsvane (silent “M”) — Rkatsiteli (silent “R”) – Georgian wines came to Washington, D.C. for a fantastic Trade Tasting held at Vidalia Restaurant on Monday, October 19, 2015 and really made a show! Presented by Georgian Wines (Facebook Event Here) the tasting was sponsored by The National Wine Agency, a division of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Georgia.
So what makes Georgian wine unique?
1)Wines are made in an ancient traditional way – the “qvevri” which according to Wikipedia: “large earthenware vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine”.
2)Orange or amber wines are created for white wine varietals due to skin contact while fermenting and aging. According to Wine Enthusiast: “Orange wines are white wines produced more like reds, with prolonged maceration of crushed grape skins and seeds.” Article Link Here . The taste is quite unique from this maceration and storing in clay pots – dried fruits like apricots and floral notes immediately come to mind, but of course it depends on the quality of grapes and the varietal. We tasted many Rkatsitelis (“R” is silent – so “cats-e-telee”) and Mtsvanis (“M” is silent – so “svah-nee”) and one in particular that was memorable was the Shalauri Mtsvane that was decanted – see image – “dried apricots, floral aromas and tea-like in flavor” – Very, VERY dry wines as well – not even a hint of residual sugar on my palate and medium acidity – these wines CRY for food! Mamuka Tsereteli, the infamous importer/distributor of many Georgian wines for Georgian Wine House in the Mid-Atlantic Region also told me I needed to taste his Our Wine Rkatsitelli – this “amber wine” (which seemed to be a more favorable expression at the event – I guess my love of Orange Fanta didn’t go over well!!) had an intensity/acidity and dried fruit/tea/smoked ham (I stole this descriptor from the pamphlet..but overall, it’s a goodie!) aroma/flavor profile that really stood out at the event!
3)Over 500 “unique/indigenous” varietals with 8,000 years of winemaking history – literally, the cradle of winemaking as we know it! Here are some I tasted: Chinebuli, Tsitska, Mtsvane, Saperavi, Tsolikouri, Rkatsiteli, Ojaleshi, Otskhanuri Sapere, Kisi and Krakhuna..400+ to go..
THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING PRODUCERS INCLUDES:
Marani (Telavi Wine Cellars)
Teliani Valley Winery
So why not start with a National Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Sake Tasting? This image comes from the National Cherry Blossom . I attend this event almost every year and find that Sake is still a bit of a stranger to my palate – I shall explain: often the most highly rated “Daiginjho” which are the most expensive because of the process of buffing down the rice to such a small size – don’t have the most flavor. They can actually be quite subtle and even a bit mushroomy/earthy even floral notes. I guess it’s like Pinot Noir – which when they’re great are awesome, but when they’re made in a tough vintage or stored improperly, they can be quite drab! Although there’s food at this event, it’s really about the sake.
There was a UFO siting at Taste of DC – WhAAaatttt?? No, it’s this new Pop Up Cafe Concept called Cafe Bellas. Overall, I enjoyed Taste of DC – I went on the late side, so I couldn’t partake in the wine and beer tents which had virtually no lines and a pretty decent selection, especially of craft beers.
So what was the most unusual food I saw at any event? See the image at the Korean Festival for “Wild Caught Fresh U.S. Eel”..yep, those slippery little creatures ended up in my rice bowl! Is eel really that exotic – I mean if you watch Bizarre Foods/Andrew Zimmern? No, not really, but it scares most American diners just from the name and the thought of eating it! Having had eel many times in Sushi restaurants, I was more curious by the tent’s name – it seems that at least one Korean company is attempting to make a successful business in the U.S. of supplying this animal protein..will it succeed? Hard to tell, but just like rabbit, there are probably enough chefs and diners to make it an interesting focus on a few menus. Ohh, and of course it’s Gluten-Free!
Cochon 555 brought us Heritage BBQ which was a rockin’ experience around 5 great chefs (but I counted many more), 5 pigs and 5..well I think it’s wines, but as far as I could tell it was bourbon and mezcal..This is an Over the Top Event – it’s the Rock n Roll of Piggie Festivals, the Lamborghini of Porcine Madness, the Exclamation Point for the End of Western Civilization as we know it drowning in good things like Fidencio Mezcal, Handmade cocktails, Creekstone Farms Heritage Pigs, Pigs Heads, Bulleit, Breckenridge Booze, Buffalo Trace, Rappahannock Oysters and pretty much everything but actual Chef Porn (I always miss the After-Party to avoid the potential for Sodom and Gomorrah experiences!)..You Gotta Go Next Year!!
TasteUSA Upcoming Events for End of 2015
-Oct. 24th, 2015 – DC Scotch Walk – 8 Bars, 8 Scotches and only $35..Sweet Deal!
-November 7th, 2015 – DC Beerathon – 26 Beers at 26 Bars – yes, 12 oz. beers, and No, nobody expects you to finish all of them! Fun Tour, I’ve Done it, and you have all day to drink and mingle..
-Nov. 14th, 2015 – Brew & Bourbon Classic, Laurel Park – Special Priced Tickets – Only $20 inclusive of all the beer and bourbon you care to drink.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
DC Beer Festival season kicks in again – an amazing number of craft beer festivals – from 1-price all you can drink to the Mega Snallygaster “money is no obect” – there are festivals for the craft beer lover this Fall, 2015
As the head of TasteUSA, it’s my job to attend and cover as many food and drink festivals in the U.S. as possible – and since DC is my home base, here’s some upcoming events and maybe a recap or 2 to help you plan your Festival Season.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ (September 19th, 2015 – Tyson’s Corner – but this festival visits many different cities during the season)- Trigger Agency’s series of over the top porkiness (?porkyness?) events that combine too much of what every hearty foodie wants: pigliciousness, Bourbon and of course craft brews! Expect more bacon too – it seems this is the current foodie draw to over-the-top events. Medium on the Beer Geek/Bourbon Geek scale, Trigger really specializes in a more laid-back vibe for the city slickers who want to just throw on some jeans and kick back a bit!
Arlington Backyard Beer Festival (September 19th, 2015 – Arlington Gateway, Rosslyn, VA) – although a first year event, the Organizers have put together multiple other local beer festivals including Drink the World Beer Festival and All-American Beer Festival . Expect a nice selection of craft beers and really great food trucks for food – the price is also right – you can save 30% off the ticket price at our site with promo code “tasteusa” and the VIP Tickets are only $45 before discount!
Das Best Oktoberfest (September 26th, 2015 – National Harbor, MD) – Hey, again you can get discounted tickets – only $29 for VIP all-you-can-drink – another Trigger Agency event that is very popular. You can do the German Oktoberfest thing, or simply enjoy lot’s of great beer – and since our discounted price is $29/per person (VIP) – you get a very affordable event to enjoy craft beers at!
Past Events (hey, they’ll be back next year!)
Snallygaster 2015 – Holy Smokes, this is one Great and expensive craft beer festival – Very High on the Beer Geek scale, maybe an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10! 300+ beers this year and many rare, cask, unique examples of hops, grain and yeast combined in an amazing array of choices. I actually tried a beer that
Annapolis Craft Beer & Music Festival – September 12th, 2015 – Outside the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, this event is always fun and has a nice selection of local beers including Jail Break, Oliver Breweries, and Heavy Seas.
Have fun at upcoming craft beer festivals – I’ll include an article soon on new food and drink events at TasteUSA – Cheer!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler