This is one of those weeks during the year when I envy that hamster running on his exercise wheel to nowhere – even he seems less hectic than the schedule I’m looking at. We are just two weeks away from the 21st annual VeritageMiami and the entire VeritageMiami team is rising early and working late to assure you have an extraordinary event. Whether you choose to come to one tasting or dinner or all four, there is a wonderful food and beverage experience in your future. Here is what’s happening:

Right now – it’s Best in Glass Month when two dozen South Florida restaurants are pouring some of the gold medal-winning wines from our sommelier-judged Best in Glass Wine Challenge. View our full list of participating restaurants for Best in Glass Month. I’m slowly making my rounds of the restaurants to sample their offerings, starting last week at Michael’s Genuine in the Design District, where head sommelier Brian Jackson is pouring Champagne Canard-Duchène’s lovely rosé and one of my favorite whites, the hard to pronounce but easy to drink Bodega Hiruzta Txakolina (just ask for “that Basque wine,” or pronounce it “chalk-o-LEE-na).

Sommelier Brian Jackson at Michael’s Genuine [Photo: Lyn Farmer]

Here at Veritage-central, we are registering breweries and wineries, testing menus and writing catalog descriptions of auction lots.

The Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls on Wednesday, October 5 is our opening event and it’s always a blast. This year we had to close the restaurant registration once we got to 37. Yeah, 37 restaurants! We have some great first time visitors including Havana 1957, Joey’s Italian Café, KYU from Wynwood and my favorite frita restaurant, El Mago de la Frita’s and his Magic Box. Woo-hoo! Of course, there are plenty of returning restaurants, too, including old favorites like Spring Chicken, Edge Steak & Bar (with irrepressible Chef Aaron Brooks), Shake Shack (and yes, they do serve full-size burgers), and Zest Award-winning R House in Wynwood. You can find the entire list of restaurants that have registered on the VeritageMiami Craft Beer webpage. The breweries are all listed there as well, though we haven’t yet listed what they’re pouring. You can figure each brewery is bringing several beers, so I imagine we’ll have around 180 or 200 different brews for sampling at this spectacular kickoff to VeritageMiami.

Then, it’s time for wine! The Fine Wine Tasting is Thursday, October 6 at Shops at Merrick Park. We’ll have about 65 tables of wineries, distributors and imports pouring close to 400 different wines, and I’m hard pressed to single out favorites since there are so many good wines there, and every year I discover new wineries I didn’t know about. I’m very excited that Silvio Alberto, the CEO and wine honcho at Argentina’s Achaval-Ferrer is coming to VeritageMiami this year, and he’ll be pouring his malbec, cabernet sauvignon and the red blend Quimera. Another winemaker who will be with us is Aurélien Jousse who will be pouring his red, white and rosé Côtes-du-Rhône wines.

A master of malbec – Achaval-Ferrer’s Silvio Alberto [Photo: Achaval-Ferrer]

Wines of Israel Network is hosting a pavilion again this year, so I know there will be 15 or 20 wines that are unfamiliar to many tasters. If you had a chance to read the recent Wine Spectator cover story on wine in Israel, you will have high expectations, and I am sure you will be dazzled by what you taste. No matter what your wine preference, you know we’ve got you covered, from light, refreshing Prosecco to big, burly shiraz, there is a wine for every taste at VeritageMiami. And plenty of food to go with it!

Among restaurants new to the event, we are pleased to welcome DIRT, Nicole Votano’s South Beach star (Nicole was a chef at the Interactive Dinner last March). Also among the newcomers, we have STK Miami, RED the Steakhouse and Dragonfly Izakaya from Doral. There are many great restaurants returning to the event as well, including Coral Gables’ Caffé Abbracci, Ortanique on the Mile, and Swine Southern Table among many others. Again, check out the list of restaurants that will join us at the Fine Wine Tasting. Best of all, tickets are very reasonable and they are still available!

After the two tastings that open VeritageMiami, there are great dinners in store – the always popular Interactive Dinner with 2016 Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford (normally at home on the range in the kitchen of the Matador Room) is on Friday, October 7 at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. And this year, we are skipping the Saturday night auction dinner in favor of throwing a wonderfully informal Bubbly Brunch and Auction at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. I’ve been tasting through the menus as we make final choices, and I can assure you that a treat is in store at both events.

For the Friday interactive dinner, Chef Jeremy Ford has created a striking menu and I’m doing a run through with the team from the JW Marriott on Friday and will post some pictures early next week. I will add a caveat – because the heart of the interactive experience is that you get to cook alongside (well, virtually alongside) Chef Ford, preparing each course at your own table with him as your coach, your results may, well … not look quite like our run through that was plated by a professional chef. But it will taste just as good! I’ll share all the details next week, and I will suggest you get your tickets now while we still have some on hand. This event sells out every year!

Just one of a dozen dishes on the brunch table at VeritageMiami, Yardbird’s Shrimp and Grits [Photo: Lyn Farmer]

And for Sunday’s brunch the food is being created in a wonderfully collaborative effort between Juan Rivera, the banquet chef at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, and the 50 Eggs Group’s Executive Chef Christian Cuevas. You can see them here with a selection of the pass-arounds they plan to offer during the Perrier-Jouët Champagne reception. Once we go to the tables, we have more food coming from Yardbird and Swine. Within the VeritageMiami team we debated whether to keep the menu a surprise, but decided that would be unfair so I’m happy to share some images from the tasting that included Yardbird’s famous Llewellyn’s fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits (amazing!), quiche, banana bread, incredibly flaky biscuits and more.

Stay tuned for more!