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Julie Shamrock Rollend
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Lakeside Local Offers Idyllic Backdrop for Celebrated Chefs and Culinary Enthusiasts 

GREENSBORO, GA – December 2, 2015 – On Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee will host the seventh annual Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, boasting 30 acres of picturesque shoreline and luxury accommodations, offers a striking backdrop for the festival. One of the area’s premier events, the festival fuses culinary highlights from local and regional restaurants with more than 100 premium wines from internationally-renowned vintners and distributors. General admission tickets are $100 each and allow guests to enjoy the festival’s “grand tasting” and food specialties from lake-area and participating restaurants.

“We are thrilled to return to The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee for our seventh annual Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival,” says Teresa Doster, 2016 festival chair. “This year, we are especially excited to introduce the Linger Longer Launch Party and the Brew & Que Cook-Off. The festival celebrates great wine and food while showcasing our beautiful Lake Oconee area.”

Executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee Andrew Litherland, will be among the participating chefs. Litherland brandishes an impressive resume including executive chef positions at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta; The Hotel at Auburn University; The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead; and The Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove. He also operated as executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grand Lakes, and grand manager chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne. A native of Auckland, New Zealand, Litherland possesses unique global roots that are evident in his elegant culinary creations.

The additional guest chef lineup boasts the area’s most celebrated culinary talents. On Saturday, March 19, at 2 p.m., the festival will throw a “Brew & Cue Cook-Off” in the Forest sponsored by a nearby craft brewery.

Justin Vineyard & Winery will be the premier vintner of the festival and the sponsors-only Vintner Dinner on Friday evening. The California-based vineyard was named Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 American Winery of the Year, and holds a unique aptitude for combining Old World winemaking methods, like hand-harvesting and small barrel-aging in French Oak, with New World technology.

Finally, Thomas Arvid, the talented still-life artist recognized for his paintings of wine, will appear at the festival showcasing his work for guests.

“It is an honor to welcome such distinguished chefs, winemakers and artists to our hotel for the Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival,” said Ralph Vick, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee general manager. “I am excited to highlight our resort and showcase all that we have to offer while celebrating fine food, wine and community.”

To make the weekend even more memorable, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee has curated an exclusive weekend package around the festival. The Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival package for two people starts at $858 for a two-night stay and includes the following:
• Overnight accommodations for two nights (Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, 2016), including taxes
• Two tickets to the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, March 19, 2015
• Resort Activity Package including valet parking, non-motorized lake activities, bikes, internet and more

Tickets for the festival go on sale on Monday, November 15 and may be purchased here: http://oconeefoodandwine.com/tickets.shtml. To reserve your Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival package at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, please call 706.467.0600. To learn more about becoming a festival sponsor, please call 770.722.8706.

All proceeds from the festival benefit local children’s arts and education charities: Gatewood School, OPAS Educational Arts Program, the Eatonon-Putnam Arts Foundation and Eatonton-Baldwin Young Life youth outreach.