Second annual Ciao Vino! raises funds for art museum

Published 6:22 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

A crowd gathered at Del’avant on Friday night to enjoy culinary creations by local chefs and a wide variety of wines while supporting the arts at the second annual Ciao Vino!

This year, the event featured fare from chefs including Tulla White, Devin White, Patrick Mote, Jamie Keating and Kimberly Hunter, who helped attendees pair the food on their plates with an abundance of wine options.

“[I’ve enjoyed] just seeing everyone come out and have a good time,” said Barbie Watts, director of promotions and marketing for the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority. “People are really enjoying their time here, enjoying the live music, tasting all these different wines.”

Those pairings went far beyond classic dishes, with chefs suggesting pairings for dishes like sweet potato casserole s’mores, house smoked tuna dip, seared Georgia quail breast and espresso rum cake.

“I’m glad that we were invited because it showcases that you can be sophisticated, and it is still a donut,” said Kim Hunter of Dixie Donuts. “It’s not just something that you eat for breakfast. It can be the main part of your wedding.”

The event also gave attendees the chance to try wines that they might not otherwise take a chance on at the store. 

Some of the wines available came from famous wine regions of the world, but the event also featured wine from LaGrange’s own Nutwood Plantation Vineyard.

“It is good exposure,” said Neil Liechty, owner of Nutwood Plantation Vineyard. “A lot of the grapes are local grapes. Everything is made here in Georgia as part of the Georgia agricultural system. It really connects you with the community too.”

Liechty said that roughly half the people who he spoke to at the event didn’t know that Nutwood Plantation Winery in LaGrange was open, so the event was a chance for him to tell people about the food served at the winery, event availability and its regular open days on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The event also raised funds for the LaGrange Art Museum, which is able to remain free to the public through donations.

“Anytime that the community pours out for an event that supports downtown and the museum, it is always a win,” said Laura Jennings, executive director of LAM. “We were delighted to be selected as the beneficiaries of this event.”

LAM board members helped out at the event serving food and wine.

“I’m pouring, so I’m learning a lot about wine,” Jennings said. “The food is fabulous. It is just so amazing that we have this much culinary in our little town.” 

Jennings shared her excitement that the DLDA and local culinary artists could help support the local arts through the event.

 The art museum currently has on display its annual Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange Show, featuring Annie Greene, a retired Troup County teacher and well-known yarn artist. 

Watts said that the event will probably raise funds for the art museum again next year.