Awaken your appetite and awaken your soul to one of the most anticipated weekends in Tampa Bay.  Starting Friday, the NEW Epicurean Hotel presents the Grand Awakening Weekend.  A foodie and wine lovers dream!  Hallelujah, a weekend full of food, wine, education and celebration!
With specialty crafted packages and a’ la carte options to choose from, you can plan to attend one, a few, or all of this weekend’s festivities celebrating the grand opening of the Epicurean Hotel.

For the food and wine connoisseurs, I suggest the mack-daddy package; The Connoisseurs of Life Weekend Package.  This unique opportunity will fill you with delight, enrich your pallet and immerse you in the Epicurean culture.  Package includes classic accommodations for two guests on Friday and Saturday, a private welcome reception featuring Norman Van Aken along with a Friday night Grand Awakening Reception.  Guests will have the opportunity to also enjoy special food and wine tastings on Saturday hosted by industry experts and celebrities.  Saturday also includes a 6-course winemaker’s dinner presented by Executive Chef, culinary artist, Chad Johnson.  Then cap off your weekend with a delicious brunch from Elevage on either Saturday or Sunday.  Cost: $2000 for 2 people.

Next up, the Grand Awakening Weekend Package. Not quite as many bells and whistles as the Connoisseurs of Life package, but still full of plenty of pleasures.  This package includes: Classic hotel accommodations for two (Friday & Saturday), invitation to Friday night’s Grand Awakening Reception, Saturday evening four-course dinner with select wines from Elevage.  The culinary classes are not included in this package, but are available a’ la carte.  Cost: $1000 for 2 people

For the Tampa locals who want to just join in on the celebrations of Friday night’s Grand Awakening Reception from 8 p.m. to Midnight, you are invited to enjoy this special compilation of food, wine and handcrafted cocktails.  This is a great opportunity for those who have not had the chance to check out everything that the Epicurean hotel has to offer.  You can venture through Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits, the Epicurean Theatre, Elevage and even Executive Chef Chad Johnson’s production kitchen.  Plan ahead and those who enjoy too many libations and celebrations can stay the night Friday/Saturday with a special price of $199 night/2 night minimum.  Cost of Reception: $200 per person.

Four-Course Prix Fixe Dinner at Elevage on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Guests can experience this a’ la carte option when planning their weekend.  This four-course menu will feature classic cuisine from around the world reimagined with a modern twist.  Each course will be carefully prepared by Executive Chef Chad Johnson and paired with wines chosen to perfectly complement the exciting spectrum of flavors.  Cost is $150 per person. Reservations required: 813-999-8700

Connoisseurs of Life Winemakers’ Dinner inside the Grand Cru Ballroom on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. This main event will showcase seven inventive courses featuring pairings with a celebrated list of winemakers including:
Patz & Hall – 2012 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay
Melville Vineyards – 2011 Terraces Pinot Noir
Bedrock Wine Company – 2012 Heirloom Red Wine
Turley Wine Cellars – 2011 Pesenti Vineyard Zinfandel
Peter Michael – 2010 Les Pavots
Lail Vineyards – 2009 J. Daniel Cuvee
Rare Wine Company – Charleston Sercial Historic Series Madeira
This special evening will be emceed by legendary chef/author, Norman Van Aken!

Cost: $400 per person, Reservations required: 813-999-8700

Those looking for the “a’ la carte offerings” of the culinary classes in the Epicurean Theatre, here is a full list of times and class descriptions, including celebrity chefs and novel industry experts. To view the complete details of each class or to make reservations, visit:
Saturday Culinary Classes at the Epicurean Theatre

Epicurean Theatre
9:30am – 10:30am           

FARM SEMINAR: “From Farm to Vineyard”                        
Brian Talley, Owner/Winemaker (Talley Vineyards)
This seminar will focus on the history of Talley Family Farms, the wines, and the terroir of the Arroyo Grande Valley.  Participants will taste estate, single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Talley Vineyards along with produce from their family farm. Accompanied by seasonal amuse.

10:00am – 2:00pm          

Three-Course Prix Fixe Brunch
Featuring Billecart-Salmon Champagne and a 3-course brunch prepared by Executive Chef Chad Johnson
Call 813 999-8700 for reservations

Grand Cru Ballroom
10:30am – 12:00pm        
FAME SEMINAR: “No Experience Necessary”
Donald Patz Co-Owner (Patz & Hall)
Norman Van Aken (Chef, author)

Tasting of single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.  Learn about the history of Patz & Hall.  Listen to stories and memoirs from Chef Norman’s new book, No Experience Necessary.  Question/ Answer session and book signing to follow.

Epicurean Theatre
11:30am – 12:30pm        

FUTURE SEMINAR: “The Oregon Trail… Blazer!”      
David Adelsheim, Co-Founder & President (Adelsheim Vineyard)
David Adelsheim first planted the grapes of northern Europe in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1972 because he believed that fine and distinctive wine could be created in the cool climate of this unknown place. The seminar will focus on the history of The Willamette Valley and Adelsheim Vineyard.  Participants will taste through the wines of Adelsheim Vineyard.  Accompanied by seasonal amuse.

Grand Cru Ballroom
1:30pm – 3:00pm           

FAME SEMINAR: “Napa: Family, History & Legacy”       
Robin Lail, Owner (Lail Vineyards)
Founded and led today by Robin Lail, Lail Vineyard’s history reaches back five generations to 1879 when her great granduncle Gustav Niebaum founded Inglenook Vineyards. This seminar will focus on the history of Napa Valley and Lail Vineyards.  Participants will taste through the wines of Lail Vineyards.  Accompanied by seasonal amuse.

Epicurean Theatre
2:00pm – 3:00pm            

FARM SEMINAR: “Location, Location, Location!”
Chad Melville, Grower (Melville Vineyards)
Join wine maker Chad Melville as he shares with you the history and terroir of the Santa Barbara Appellation. Tastings of Melville wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah will be accompanied by a seasonal amuse.

Epicurean Theatre
3:45pm – 4:45pm            

FUTURE SEMINAR: “What’s Old is New Again”                 
Christina Turley, Director of Sales & Marketing (Turley Wine Cellars)
Chris Cottrell, Managing Partner (Bedrock Wine Company)
This seminar will focus on the old vine varieties of California and their resurgence in the wine world.  Participants will taste wines produced by Turley and Bedrock with a focus on Zinfandel and Heirloom varieties.  Accompanied by seasonal amuse.

For more information on this weekend's festivities at the Epicurean Hotel please visit:

If you have been waiting to check out the Epicurean, this weekend is the perfect time!
Make 2014 the year to awaken your senses and take your taste buds on a much-needed culinary adventure.