SCHENECTADY – Wine and chocolate lovers, the time is here: the annual Wine & Chocolate Festival will return to the Capital Region on Saturday.
This year’s festival will take place in Schenectady and feature 20 wineries and distilleries and 27 other food and retail vendors with products like cookie sandwiches with alcohol-infused frosting, candles, and even CBD items.
“It’ll be a fun collection of vendors,” Eric Bachli, one of the co-founders of the aperitif Le Moné, said. “Everyone is an artisan in their own way.”
The Wine & Chocolate Festival has operated for 15 years but this year will be its first time back in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the last event being held in February of 2020, according to Carrie Wotjaszek, the chief operating officer of the Wine and Chocolate Festivals.
“We are so excited to be back in the Capital District!” Wotjaszek wrote in an email.
She promises that, with the numerous options of wine and chocolate and other retail, the atmosphere of the event will already be relaxing and fulfilling as an opportunity to spend time and have fun with others. But the festival’s new venue at Armory Studios NY will include a backdrop of the “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exhibit, making for an even more exciting occasion.
“To have the beautiful art around you, you can’t help but just be filled with joy and be in a great mood,” Wojtaszek said.
Al Carpenter, one of the founders of Ferreira-Carpenter Estates, has traveled around the world making wines, and he knows firsthand that the environment of a festival profoundly affects the overall tasting experience.
“Crafts are all about experience — it’s not just a sample fest, people also love the atmosphere,” said Carpenter. “Being in the exhibit lends itself to that — it’s history, it’s culture, it’s the arts.”
Although the festival will be teeming with various wines, ciders and spirits, non-drinkers and designated drivers need not fret: not only is there a cheaper ticket option for those who will not be drinking, but there will also be plenty of other products and experiences to explore.
“You’ll still get a ticket to the Chocolate Bar, where you’re going to be able to go get some chocolates from us,” Wotjaszek said. “There’s a lot of other great vendors, between cakes and cookies and spice companies . . . we have a salsa person there, even a pickle person.”
Guests can also expect to be greeted with open arms by the vendors, most of whom are excited to meet patrons, both old and new.
“For me, it’s one customer at a time — to be able to meet and be able to explain our model, to be able to connect with our clientele and give them an experience beyond tasting what we consider very good wine,” Carpenter said. “One of the things we say is ‘you are not a customer anymore, you are part-family, so welcome to the family.’”
Additionally, all of the wineries, distilleries and other vendors are based in New York State, which not only permits guests to purchase bottles of alcohol and other products to take home but also helps to build a large community between the sellers themselves.
“We do every circuit together so we’re around each other all year,” said Tracy Krawitt, the founder of Spacey Tracy’s Pickles. “We’re there to help each other out.”
The Wine and Chocolate Festival will be held this Saturday at Armory Studios NY in Schenectady. There will be two sessions, from 1 to 4 p.m. or from 5 to 8 p.m. Each ticket includes a free wine glass to use for unlimited wine samples and distillery samples, a water bottle, a ticket for a trip to the Chocolate Bar, and entry into the Van Gogh exhibit. Advance ticket sales are available online, and cost $35 for the full experience or $20 for designated drivers and non-drinkers. For more information visit wineandchocolatefestivals.com.
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Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Schenectady