The 11th annual East Kootenay Wine Festival takes place on November 3.

Prepare your palates

Get ready to swirl your glasses as the one of the most popular Columbia Valley fall events makes its return.

Get ready to swirl your glasses as the one of the most popular Columbia Valley fall events makes its return, as the East Kootenay Wine Festival comes back to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort on November 3.

“It’s a really neat opportunity for people to taste a huge variety of B.C. wines,” Fairmont marketing co-ordinator Marion Garden said. “A lot of them are small wineries that you might not be bale to find in you local liquor store, and of course there are the big (wineries) as well.”

Featuring 45 wineries and over 170 wines, the event—now entering its 11th year—has proven a mainstay of autumn entertainment in the Columbia Valley. New this year, and something locals will certainly appreciate is the addition of a free wine festival shuttle that will run from Invermere and Windermere to the resort. The shuttle leaves at 5:30, 5:35, 5:40 and 6 p.m. from Sobey’s, J.A. Laird Elementary School, Copper City and the Windermere Fire Hall respectively, and drops off at those same locations at 9:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

“We’re really happy to have the free wine fest shuttle, we’re hoping that people will take advantage of that, and maybe it gets some people that maybe couldn’t get out here before, to come out,” Garden said.

Wine enthusiasts have two different packages to choose from for the festival: first, basic entry to the festival on Saturday night costs $49 plus tax, and tickets are available by calling 250 345 6070.

The second, more extensive package involves a two-night stay at the resort, and Garden said this package usually proves extremely popular. In addition to staying at the resort, those that take advantage of the second deal also receive a complimentary wine-paired dinner featuring some of the winning wines from the previous years’ event. The other notable part of the package, aside from actually attending the festival Saturday night, is the chance to become a judge that helps decide who the overall winners are in a number of categories. For those lucky enough to grab the second package (which is sold out this year) they can look forward to a blind taste test just before the event itself, and submitting their picks in about 15 different categories of wines. The winners are then announced during the festival on Saturday night. There will also be canapés and door prizes available for everyone who attends.

“For people who do like wine, it’s a really unique opportunity for them to come and try such a huge variety,” Garden said. “There’s always something there that they’ve never tried before.”

For more information, visit www.fairmonthotsprings.com/east-kootenay-wine-festival.