This May, Willamette Valley will host the first Oregon Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Food and Wine Festival. This two-day event will take place May 20th and 21st at the Stoller Family Estate Experience Center in Dayton, Oregon.
“It’s going to be a great time,” says event founder Lois Cho. Cho’s husband, Dave, is Oregon’s first Korean-American winemaker at the couple’s sparkling-focused winery, CHO Wines.
“He didn’t really do anything to earn that title,” Cho says with a laugh. “But a lot of people ask us ‘How do your experiences influence the way that you make wine?’ Dave’s always wanted to make wine that pairs with the food he grew up eating. We want to highlight that at this event.”
The event will feature food from Portland-based AAPI-owned restaurants, including Toki, Matta, HeyDay, Baon Kainan, Kim Jong Grillin, Bhuna, KauKau, Magna Kusina, Sibeiho, and Sunrice. Participating wineries are CHO Wines, Et Filles, Evening Land, Hundred Suns, and Shiba Wichern. Ron Acierto, sommelier at James Beard-nominated Ōkta, will guide wine pairings at the event.
Each day will have three, two-hour tasting windows for guests to attend, from 11-1, 1-3, and 3-5. A different lineup of chefs will be featured each day. Approximately 500 guests are expected.
Cho says there’s been an increase in AAPI wineries in Willamette Valley, though the number is still currently less than 10.
“We all have very different styles but are all doing very well in our respective areas,” she says. “There is some diversity that’s starting, so we wanted to bring it to the forefront.”
Overall, the event has several objectives. “First, I want to make sure that we’re advancing diversity in the industry, whether that be food or wine,” Cho says. “Second, we want to uplift Asian businesses. We also want to educate the public on the non-traditional food pairings. Finally, we want to support businesses and organizations that have the same vision.”
The event will take place during both Oregon Wine Month and AAPI Heritage Month. Cho hopes the event will be the beginning of something larger.
“We’ve been getting a lot of support,” she says. “We’re looking for sponsors right now. I foresee this being an annual event.”
Additional information about the event can be found at oregonaapifoodandwine.com as well as the festival’s Instagram page.
Image: Dave and Lois Cho and family by Ashlee Bee Photography.
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