If you need any more proof of the concept of evolution, look no further than at these two seemingly disparate examples: the mobile food truck, and the Niagara winery. As two species often pegged for extinction in the 20th century, both the food truck and the Niagara winery have instead rapidly evolved, with individual species of both morphing into highly respected, universally acclaimed producers of gourmet foods and high-quality wines. It’s an intriguing combination you can observe – and sample – for yourself when Peller Estates Winery hosts its fourth annual Food Truck Eats event this May long weekend.
The Food Truck Eats event will see 15 of the finest gourmet food trucks from across Ontario and the northern U.S. joining five local pop-up vendors for a weekend of wining and dining amongst the scenic grounds of Peller Estate Winery. It’s an excellent way for the winery to showcase their products while giving people a unique experience in Niagara wine country according to Estate Manager Tim Coons.
”We have the benefit of having one of the best back lawns of any winery in Niagara,” suggests Coons, who expects to see over 7,500 visitors over the course of the three-day event.” “Our CEO loves to see people having a good time, interacting with our brands. (The event) really began with a desire to throw a huge backyard party at our property. And it’s an opportunity for us to do something unique, something cool with our large portfolio of wines and create a halo effect for our property.”
Bringing visitors into the vineyards of Niagara to sample the great wines being produced here is nothing new; however, the creativity wineries like Peller Estates are showing in developing and hosting destination events is also part of the ongoing evolution of Niagara wine country.
“I sit on the board as Vice Chair of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Committee,” explains Coons. “Together 26 wineries meet regularly to see how we can better promote and market our specific region. We each put $5,000 on the table to see what we can do. You can see the group over the years becoming much more savvy with their marketing.”
If you think food trucks are an unnatural pairing for fine Peller wines, think again: the food trucks rolling into this event are not your typical fries and burger operations. El Gastronomo Vagabundo, for example, is a revered pioneer in the street food truck industry. Considered the first mobile food truck of its kind in Canada, this unique meals-on-wheels operation serves up a menu of gourmet tacos, tapas, southeast Asian dishes and garden fresh salads created by award-winning Australian chef Adam Hynam-Smith, who also doubles as co-host of Canada’s Restaurant Takeover on the Food Network. El Gastronomo Vagabundo is just one reason people flock to the annually sold-out event according to Coons.
“What’s exciting about the event is that each food truck focuses on one culinary style, each with one or two signature dishes,” says Coons. “Everything being served is gourmet style, everything always comes out tasting awesome.”
With DJs and live bands including The Madhatters providing the soundtrack all weekend, the Food Truck Eats event has all the festive atmosphere of a backyard barbecue party. What makes it truly distinctive is the fact Peller wine experts are on hand all weekend, educating consumers on the best wines to choose to compliment the huge variety of gourmet foods being served.
While Food Truck Eats certainly attracts its share of locals, Coons says events like this serve a greater purpose — helping to promote local wineries far beyond Niagara’s borders.
“What’s great about events like this, because they are so large, they reach people from all over, even outside the country. A large portion of the people attending are from the Toronto area and north of Toronto. These events help put heads in beds locally and support tourism here. It’s all about consumers getting out and doing things new and cool, and doing something new in wine country is a whole new ball game.”
Tickets to the event are $15 per person, with each ticket including a glass of wine and a souvenir event glass. Saturday and Sunday events are 19+ admission, while Monday’s event is all-ages and directed towards families. For tickets, call 1-888-673-5537 Ext 2.