by John Stratton
What’s not to like? Great wines and beers, great food, great friends old and new. And a tenth anniversary swirl and glow in the air in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun…which means lots to see and enjoy.
That’s 32—count ‘em 32—celebrity chefs, vintners, brewmasters. And about 900 distinct wines and brews offered to the diligent taster seeking to develop higher ranges of connoisseurship. But who’s counting? You have to pick and choose, and learn. And perhaps share your responses with more than 10,000 others like you, ready with a good word as friends meeting new friends.
Mark and Bridget Freeman of Tolland attended with another couple, Kevin and Renée Furbush of Glastonbury. They’d been to WineFest’s before, for the past five years. “It’s a great weekend,” they said, just about in unison as they took a break to sample some eats. And the ladies laughed, “Without the kids—it’s a bonus!”
Two friends from the Hartford area were there for the first time, Dan Tarvell of Windsor and Brian Pitney of Enfield. Would they come back next year? “Absolutely, yes!” they said.
Among familiar local faces were Sandy Chianzi of Mystic and Crystal Merritt of Stonington. They describe themselves as “the two favorites at the Steak Loft,” where they tend an active bar with many regulars.
Likewise, Lynn Malerba, 18th Lifetime Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, stopped in with husband Paul and daughter Angela and fiancé Matt, as did Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, blending with the throng in the expansive ballroom.
Robert J. “Bobby” Soper, President and CEO, Mohegan Sun, was on hand as well, noting the camaraderie that makes the event a special one.
“This event has become the premier wine festival in the Northeast, if not the East Coast,” said Bobby, who added that there was something for everyone to enjoy. “Whether you want to attend a private tasting event or activity, or enjoy the unmatched variety of offerings at the Grand Tasting, or just mingle with the top celebrity chefs in the world—it is truly a remarkable event for wine and food enthusiasts. Or even for people like myself who do not have distinguished palates, and just want to have a great time.”
Bobby also sees the WineFest in a larger context, attracting many new visitors to the complex in Uncasville.
“We are constantly refreshing our property,” he said, “and have had a flurry of openings of new establishments in the past several months.
Restaurants and nightlife choices such as Hash House a Go Go, Landsdowne Pub, Mist in Casino of the Wind, Vista Lounge at Wombi Rock, the Bow & Arrow Sports Bar in Earth Casino and the new Clay Pipe cigar lounge have all joined us.”
À votre santé!