The Ptarmigan Inn was full of the sounds of conversation and corks popping from bottles on April 20, as Hay River’s popular wine festival finally returned for the first time since the pandemic.

“This is the first one we’ve had since Covid hit our communities,” said Tom Lakusta, president of the Hay River Sunrise Rotary Club, the organization behind the event. “It was great. It was brilliant.

“The people that attended had a great time.”

The evening featured a selection of wines curated by local sommelier Ryan Rowe. Bottles came from across Canada and the United States, and also from regions like Australia, South America and Europe.

None of the wines had been served in town before.

“We’re fortunate to have a sommelier in town who helped select new wines for people to try,” said Lakusta. “These were all brand new wines in Hay River.

“I think I had four or five different wines over the course of the evening — it was just fun. You take a sip of one wine, and you’re like ‘Oh, this is really good.’ You try another wine half an hour later, and it’s it’s different, but really good, too.”

There was plenty to eat at the event as well with catering provided by the hotel, whose chef collaborated with Rowe to provide food that combined well with the wines on offer.

“Because we have a sommelier and a high quality chef and hotel to work with, we were able to pair the wines with foods,” said Lakusta. “That was kind of unique and fun.”

In addition to the wine tasting, there was also an art auction with distinct local flare. Every piece up for bids was handcrafted by residents of Hay River.

The auction portion of the event, which was intended to fundraise and also support local artisans and craftspeople, was organized by Rotary member Heather Love.

“We had everything from paintings to professional photography to children’s books to hand-woven tote bags,” Love said. “There was necklaces, earrings, stained-glass, metal silhouette art — a very unique mixture, which is ideal, and it was all local.”

With a successful event in the books, Love said she is hoping some of the attendees will consider joining the Rotary Club, which has struggled with membership at times.

“Our club is very small, and for us to be able to continue to put these kinds of events on, we really need to have people step up and become members of Rotary,” she said.

Lakusta, meanwhile, is looking forward to planning another wine festival in the not-too-distant future.

“Every wine festival we do has its good points and things we can improve on,” he said. “We will certainly do this again, and look at the things we can do to improve the festival more. We’ll go back and do some forensics on what happened on Sunday to see how we can make the next one even better.”

By Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 29, 2024 at 09:44

This item reprinted with permission from   NWT News of the North   Yellowknife, NWT

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