Fall seems to mean one thing in Central Arkansas: food festival season. This year, October is bookended by two fantastic events: Wine & Swine on the 9th and Flyght Black on the 22nd. I got to chat with the organizers of both events. Up first, is Susie Long, wine director at Petit & Keet and Cypress Social.
Tell me about the original idea behind Wine & Swine. How did this all come about?
Long: Like so many great things, Wine & Swine was conceptualized over drinks after work. Brent Lenners, managing partner, and Tyler Lenners, events director, and I are great friends who have worked together since the opening of Petit & Keet. Our conversations kept turning to daydreams about how we wished we could host a festival like this. The size of Cypress Social and the grounds allows the space for this type of event. One day we decided it was time to just make it happen.
What kind of atmosphere can attendees expect at this year's event?
Long: Elevated Sunday-Funday vibes at what we jokingly call Cypress Social, our "country estate." Folks should dress comfortably and come and go as they please to enjoy great barbecue, live music, Flyway beer, oysters, raffles and delightful wines. It's all included in the ticket price, so it makes for a low-stress, care-free experience.
Are there any wines being poured at the event that you're especially excited about?
Long: I've created a lineup that represents many regions and styles from around the globe. I'm hoping that there will be something for everyone and our guests will find an unexpected favorite. Connecting people to new flavor experiences is what I get excited about. I hope people walk away having fallen in love with a wine, grape or region they never knew existed.
The event logo features an (absolutely iconic) image of you riding a pig holding a glass of wine like some kind of Greek goddess riding into battle to defend your vineyard. How did it come about?
Long: Our PR coordinator, Lyndsey Rauls, is engaged to a wonderful artist, Phillip Huddleston. It was an obvious choice to commission him for the logo. He over delivered! I may be biased, but I think it's gorgeous. If life imitates art, I'm coming to save the day with a glass of wine in hand.
You're known for organizing all sorts of wine events at your restaurants. Do you think wine can be a tool to bring people together?
Long: Talking about wine is like talking about the weather ... It allows easy conversation that is (generally) low-intensity. Opening yourself up to new people is fun when the topic at hand is light and breezy.
You've been a major figure in Little Rock's wine scene for several years now. How have you noticed it change?
Long: Wine culture has become less exclusionary in the past years, and I see Little Rock catching on to that. Seeing people of all backgrounds make and enjoy wine allows everyone at the tasting table! Wine for the people!
Wine & Swine is from 2-6 p.m. Sunday at Cypress Social in North Little Rock. Tickets can be bought on Eventbrite.com.
As always, you can see what I'm drinking on Instagram at @sethebarlow and send your wine questions and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org