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Grapes & Grains: A Prohibition-Period Event With Modern-Day Spirits
With 120 years under its belt, Nelson’s Hume Hotel and Spa has a number of decades to authentically pull from when seeking a party theme. So when the hotel’s team decided to host a celebration of local and international wines, spirits, and craft beer, there’s hardly a better decade to choose than the “Roaring Twenties.”
The 1920s were a big decade for the then double-decade old Hume Hotel. Not only had building said goodbye to its founders—the Hume family—just a few years earlier, but it was about to undergo major renovations and technological upgrades, such as telephones in every room and an icemaker. By the end of the decade, the interior and exterior renovations applied by Benwell—the hotel’s second owner—had so changed the building that the local paper described the Hume as “hardly recognizable.”
It is this period in the Hume’s history that creates the stage for the hotel’s present-day, second annual ‘Grapes & Grains’ event (Saturday, April 21).
“The prohibition theme, set in this historical building, creates a great atmosphere,” says Tracey Brown, co-owner of Backroads Brewing, a Nelson craft brewery that served ales for attendees at the inaugural Grapes & Grains last year. “It provides a level of participation that the customers seem to really get into and enhances the whole experience for all involved.”
The soirée turns back the hands of time in a way that goes beyond attempting to replicate the period with decoration; it turns the hotel into a period piece, using tactics such as encouraging costumed customers and enlisting the help of local bands in playing period music.
“Being in Nelson, we have such a wealth of music talent to draw from,” says Hume Hotel’s Evening Operations Manager, Greg Basek, of the bands selected to play for Grapes & Grains. This year, four different jazz groups will perform throughout the festival.
Tiny details are also crucial to authenticity, and these are not overlooked. “They even had staff walking around dressed as [period-cigarette vendors] and handing out candy cigarettes,” says Brown.
Backroads Brewing and the Nelson Brewing Company will be in attendance again this year, pouring alongside other Kootenay-region favourites such as the Fernie Brewing Company and Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie Brewing Company. But it’s not just beer that’s the focus, which is one of the aspects that both Basek and Brown list as “unique” for this type of event.
“We incorporate wine, craft beer, cider, and spirits,” says Basek. “Most festivals focus on one—we try and create a cross-section of all,” noting that the organizers hand-picked 30 vendors which will provide over 150 different labels for patrons to sample through the night.
“It’s a great opportunity for visitors and locals to try a great variety of BC wines, beers, and spirits,” agrees Brown.
And food is not forgotten. The culinary skill of the Hume Hotel’s kitchen staff shines with the multiple food stations provided throughout the evening. In conjunction with the main event, the Hume will also hold a seven-course winemaker’s dinner on the preceding evening.
“There will be 13 different wines paired with chef and wine-inspired plates of food,” says Basek. “The night will be hosted by a fantastic duo… who work closely with the wineries being featured, ready to answer any questions attendees may have.”
When asked why the Hume adds significance to the vibe of Grapes & Grains, Brown says, “The building is a historical landmark in Nelson and is held dear to many locals. To have a themed event here really works.”
A bonus point for the Hume being the right place for this event? “Being a large hotel, visitors can attend the event and also stay in the hotel—no travelling is required,” says Brown. “ [Nelson has] many activities and places of interest in close proximity, so it’s ideal for a weekend stay or longer.”