Mouthful

For 10 years, TxakoliFest has brought a little taste of Spain to Durham

TxakoliFest celebrates wine from the Basque region of Spain. It’s the 10th year of the festival in Durham that also features food from some of the area’s most well-known restaurants.
TxakoliFest celebrates wine from the Basque region of Spain. It’s the 10th year of the festival in Durham that also features food from some of the area’s most well-known restaurants. TxakoliFest

TxakoliFest – the festival that celebrates wine from the Basque region of Spain – is turning 10.

The one-day celebration of Txakoli (pronounced chalk-o-lee) is Sunday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m. at The Rickhouse in Durham. In addition to tastings of more than a dozen wines, there will be food from some of the area’s most well-known restaurants.

The event, started in 2008, is the brainchild of Mattie Beason, owner of Mattie B’s Public House and Black Twig Cider House in Durham.

TxakoliFest was an opportunity to celebrate a wine and area that I’m incredibly passionate about,” Beason said.

The Basque region of Spain has become somewhat of a culinary and beverage superstar of late, with Txikito in New York City and Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar in Washington garnering national acclaim.

TxakoliFest originally was held at Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, but its future was uncertain after Beason closed Six Plates and re-opened it as Black Twig Cider House.

Daniel Kulenic of The Rickhouse, a Durham event space, stepped in. TxakoliFest moved to The Rickhouse last year and has grown in size and scope since then.

Each year the festival also serves as a fundraiser. This year, Beason and Kulenic have partnered with Robert Brown Immigration Law to support an immigrant legal defense fund that provides information to families in North Carolina as they navigate the complexities of immigration law.

“Immigration touches my life on a daily basis,” Beason said. “Any way that I can improve the information that they have access to is helpful. It’s a scary time for these folks.”

While TxakoliFest has featured food pairings from chefs across the Triangle since the festival began, Beason jokes that he once had to pester his friends in the restaurant industry to participate.

“This year, people have been calling, and that has never happened to TxakoliFest,” he said. “They are asking ‘How can we can get involved?’ 

Mattie Beason
Mattie Beason of Black Twig Cider House Jessica Arden

Participating restaurants include Blu Seafood & Bar, Picnic, Gocciolina, Nana’s Restaurant, Pizzeria Toro, Toast, Alley 26, Piedmont, The Restaurant at The Durham, Bona Fide Sandwich Co., Juju Durham, Mateo Bar de Tapas and Oval Park Grille.

Chef Matt Kelly, who owns Mateo, Mothers & Son and Lucky’s Deli, will offer a preview of food from his upcoming restaurant, St. James Seafood and Oyster Bar. Chef Vivian Howard of Kinston’s Chef & the Farmer will send a team from her second restaurant, The Boiler Room.

There will be plenty of wine and other beverages on hand. The festival’s namesake wine, Txakoli, will be available to taste for free and to purchase by the glass along with many other wines, courtesy of Haw River Wine Man, De Maison Selections and Wine Authorities.

Black Twig Cider House will offer cider pours from its famous “txotx,” and Harris Beverage will round out the selection with a variety of beers.

“The passion the Basque people put into food and drink is contagious,” Beason said.

The Rickhouse is at 609 Foster St., Durham. General admission tickets are $75 per person and include a tasting glass. VIP tickets are $100 per person and include a tasting glass, T-shirt, and one-hour early entry. Tickets can be bought at www.txakolifest.com.

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