Shelburne Vineyard held its 7th Annual Wine and Food Festival and Food Shelf Benefit at their Shelburne Road winery in November. The event, which draws between 500 and 700 people each year, has become a favorite feature of the fall calendar as it welcomes the holiday season each year and this year, with spring-like temperatures and bright sunshine, the crowd was big and generous with donations.
The vineyard started this event in 2008 as a way to help support clients of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. As the cold weather and the holiday season take hold at the same time, it helps to showcase the diverse and creative food economy that defines Vermont today. Each year they invite about 12 other vendors to come share and sell samples of their products. In recent years, Vermont Tent Company has pitched in to help offset the cost of a patio tent, allowing the vineyard to enlarge the number of vendors who participate. The strategy is two-fold: to bring in donations of non-perishable food items to stock the larder at the food shelf and to raise funds to help provide the more perishable items to bring holiday meals to the community’s hungry neighbors.
The food items come as donations from people who attend the festival and bring their contributions in lieu of paying. Attendees taste samples provided by the vineyard and all the participating vendors, and cash donations come from a raffle of gift packages to which each vendor contributes. Typically the event, once the food and raffle donations are tallied, brings in between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of food. This year’s totals came to 3,259 pounds, which, once distributed, will prepare 2,716 meals. This year, there was the additional and delicious benefit of the food shelf’s own “Good Food Truck” that served up arepas, Venezuelan corn pancakes stuffed with fillings of spiced beef and cheese. All proceeds from the arepas purchased by the hungry crowd benefitted the food shelf as well.