Taste of Shenandoah expands for fifth year

MOUNT JACKSON – On Saturday, valley residents will have the opportunity to sample products from local farms, breweries and wineries in the fifth annual Taste of Shenandoah at Cave Ridge Vineyards.

Vicki Ruckman, part owner and operator of All Things Virginia in Woodstock, said the event will differ greatly this year in that it will feature more diverse producers than ever.

A new banquet license that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved this year can allow a winery like Cave Ridge to host events featuring other alcoholic beverages alongside its own products.

“Normally, you can’t have anything except Cave Ridge wines at Cave Ridge,” Ruckman said. “For this one event, they have a special license that allows them to have Old Hill Cider (in Timberville), Woodstock Brewhouse (in Woodstock) and Swover Creek Farms Brewery (in Edinburg).”

Event attendees will now have the opportunity to sample new products from new breweries – alongside local venders such as Country Rhoades Farm, Woodbine Farm Market and Purple Rooster Organics.

“One of the main reason they are doing this is to show how a food and an alcoholic beverage can enhance each other,” Ruckman said.

“There’s a lot of people who say, ‘I don’t like sweet wines’ or ‘I don’t like dry wines” or ‘I don’t like this kind of beer,” Ruckman said. “But when they taste it with a food that it particularly goes well with, their eyes light up.”

Ruckman said this year’s event will also differ in that the revenue from ticket sales will benefit the Shenandoah Forum – a group that has focused its efforts on promoting locally grown from the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Kim Woodwell, executive director of the organization, said, “The Shenandoah Forum’s been working for the last five years really trying to promote agriculture in Shenandoah County, and specifically looking at the local food.”

Woodwell said the idea to turn the event into a fundraiser came through conversations she had with Randy Phillips, the owner and operator of Cave Ridge and a member of the Forum’s board of directors.

“He started talking about a year ago about what a really nice marriage that would be with the Taste of Shenandoah and the Forum’s work on local food,” Woodwell said.

Unlike previous “Taste of Shenandoah” events, Ruckman said that Cave Ridge will be open to only people who have purchased or are purchasing tickets for the event.

“It’s open to anybody who wants to come. It’s just the focus is going to be on the event with the pairings,” Ruckman said, noting that this was done, in part, because they are expecting around 200 attendees for the event.

Woodwell said, “It’s really an exciting opportunity to get all of these local vendors together that sometimes are split between different farmers markets or in farmers markets outside of the county.”

IF YOU GO: The fifth annual Taste of Shenandoah will be held at Cave Ridge Vineyards in Mount Jackson from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.  Tickets: $25. More information: http://bit.ly/1L8aO6m.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com