The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Skippack Village's Winetober Fest benefit celebrates wine, food, dogs and giving


By Dana Shaw, 21st Century Media News Service

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

People have been raising their wine glasses to celebrate time-honored traditions since long before ancient Greek and Roman philosophers scribed their insights. Some might suggest that whenever we sip our favorite Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rosé or Bordeaux, we’re indulging in the fruitfulness of the present while simultaneously reflecting on fragments of history.
Autumn is perhaps the most beautiful, contemplative time of year for a glass of wine. And Saturday, Oct. 12, marks Winetober Fest’s fourth fall wine celebration in Skippack. Hatfield resident Tara Shiffert is the proprietor of Skippack’s After 5 Gifts, which has everything from stemware, flasks, corkscrews, wine bags, boxes and everything else no wine enthusiast would dream of being without.
Winetober Fest began as a means of further benefitting the wine establishment’s growth and the new and frequent visitors who have helped to make it that way.
“After 5 has gifts,” said Shiffert, “for the wine connoisseur.”
“I decided,” she added, “to have food and wine vendors come out to help promote the store. It was also a way for people to become familiar with Skippack Village and it became Winetober Fest.
“A lot of people before Winetober Fest had never heard of Skippack. Now, many of our visitors know the area and come back,” she continued.
When asked to discuss some of this year’s event wines, as well as to describe their flavor, Shiffert replied, “Blue Mountain has a really good Meritage red wine. Their Meritage is a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.”
U-Freeze Wine Slush puts a snow cone twist on the wine lover’s palate. Shiffert explains, saying, “Instead of drinking it, you can eat it. They’ll have apple, grape and Sangria flavors.
“One of the wineries, Crossing Vineyards, has a phenomenal Chardonnay,” said Shiffert. “They’re opening a wine store called the Village Wine Cellar this month.”
Wine is often said to complement food quite well, which will be plentiful at the event. Food connoisseurs will enjoy a variety of palatable treats from Beyond the Spice, Cabot Cheese, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Farm Fromage, French Girl Creperie and La Villa Mexican Grille.
Winetober Fest will also be providing live music, featuring the sounds of A.C. Mitchell, Arianne Rox & Dharma’s Kindness, Blind Man’s Bluff, James Lauchmen and Kenny Ferrier, to name a few.
Dog lovers can also bring their loyal, four-legged friends with them.
Shiffert mentions, “Winetober is a dog-friendly festival. We have a dog contest, which is a Facebook-only. A prize is presented and the winner will be featured on the cover of the ‘Winetober Fest Guide Book’ each year.”
Winetober Fest also places importance on giving back to the community. Shiffert has mastered the art of giving and thoroughly enjoys helping others.
“We allow a rescue group to come out every year. This year, To Love a Canine will visit us from Kimberton, Pa. We’ve encouraged folks to bring dog toys, collars, towels, crates, food and beds. We give donations to animal rescues annually.
“We also give money to Ronald McDonald House, which is a great organization. We assist the Philadelphia chapter. They house and feed the families of children who are in the hospital. It’s our way of helping people and we give a really nice check amount.”
The autumn air this Winetober will be crisp, making the gold, red and orange leaves dance with glee. Whether we’re wine enthusiasts, dog lovers, art collectors, music aficionados or food critics, there’s something special for all who visit.