Food & Drink

Wine festival Nov. 2 at Silver Reef benefits community groups supported by Bellingham Bay Rotary Club

Not all food and wine festivals are created equal.

Some take place in oversold venues where you’re cramped, claustrophobic and constantly having to elbow your way through a line just to get a meager one-ounce pour of wine.

Others only provide a token platter or two of bread and cheeses to nosh on in-between tastes. Or, worse yet, they offer additional food choices that you have to pay for over and above the price of admission.

Still others give you everything you want in a festival, but they’re outside the range of a reasonable return drive home, requiring additional costs for gas and overnight accommodations.

That’s why Bellingham Grape and Gourmet may be the perfect event for local foodies and wineophiles. It covers all of the potential pratfalls of many other food and wine festivals and offers additional perks to help assure you have a terrific experience.

This year’s event will take place Sunday, Nov 2. Now in its 11th year, the festival is organized by Bellingham Bay Rotary Club, with proceeds going to community nonprofit organizations supported by Rotary.

The festival moved to the Silver Reef Event Center in 2013 and returns there for Sunday’s festivities. Not only does the venue at Haxton Way and Slater Road provide plenty of room for people to maneuver, it also gives the event the feel of an upgrade on the “sophistication/luxury scale” compared to years past.

More than 30 regional wineries, and a number of local restaurants, are scheduled to be at the festival. With plenty of variety to be had, there’s little chance you’ll leave feeling shortchanged on the number of food and wine choices available.

A VIP pass costs $125 and allows you early admission at 5 p.m., while a $75 ticket gets you in the door at 6:30. Admission includes all food and wine served at the event, which concludes at 8:30.

To help with transportation, a complimentary shuttle bus will begin pickups at The Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn, 714 Lakeway Drive, at 4:30 and 6 p.m., and also at The Hampton Inn, 3985 Bennett Drive, at 4:45 and 6:15 p.m.

Shuttle-bus returns will be made throughout the evening as needed, with a final departure from Silver Reef scheduled for 9 p.m. For people with their own transportation, consider lingering for some post-festival activities, such as gaming or perhaps a visit to the casino’s recently opened cigar lounge.

According to the organization’s Facebook page, tickets can be purchased by calling Rotary member Christine Palmerton at 360-815-2688. They can also be purchased online at