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Seasons of Swirl

Kristi Kates - April 18th, 2011
Seasons of swirl: Wine tasting & music energize Crooked Tree Arts Center
By Kristi Kates
“I like learning about the wines and asking about food pairings at Swirl…”
“It’s great to be able to view an exhibit with friends at Swirl…”
“Swirl is a great way to meet new people of all ages…”

But just what is Swirl?
“Swirl is an informal and informative wine tasting held in our galleries, with live music,” explains Liz Ahrens, the Crooked Tree Arts Center’s Executive Director. “Each month we invite a local wine purveyor to provide wines and appetizers, featuring their best or most unusual products,” she continues, “it’s the result of CTAC wanting to bring in visitors to the galleries in an informal and relaxed setting.”

ARTISTIC SYNERGY
The Swirl series - now one of Petoskey’s “hidden treasure” events - does indeed combine art, music, and gourmet pursuits all into one cohesive evening at CTAC, enabling locals and visitors alike to take their time checking out what CTAC has to offer in a new and inventive way.
“Quite often, people comment that they would like to see an exhibit, but just don’t make the time to do so,” Ahrens says, “CTAC also had a goal of providing some new events, and, at the same time, we were approached by Esperance of Charlevoix to offer wine tastings in the galleries, so it was truly one of those synergistic ideas.”
As Swirl grew, Ahrens says, they added on additional wine merchants, and are now featuring a different one at each month’s Swirl event. A rotating cast of musicians is featured, too, with each combo of elements attracting near sold-out crowds.
“Our fabulous local musicians provide entertainment to a crowd of 80 people, as we limit the tickets,” Ahrens says, “our galleries could hold more people, but then the event gets too big, and it’s difficult to talk about the wines and food and view the artwork.”

CREATIVE COMBOS
Kicking off with Swirl’s Holiday Wine Market in November, which features up to 40 wines, the full Swirl series runs from January to May, with the food and wine pairings being chosen by the merchants.
“Quite often, they choose seasonal offerings,” explains Ahrens.
The next Swirl event, on Thursday, April 21, will feature musical guitar/singing duo Jusduit (featuring Jeff Pagel and Bob Greenway), along with “creative appetizers” and fine wines from Lake Street Market in Boyne City.
Lake Street Market’s Liz Glass and Chris Meyer will be bringing in a themed roster of Spanish wines for the April event to accompany Jusduit’s tunes and CTAC’s display of new art by local art students; featured wines will include Kila Cava Brut (2008); Muga Roija Reserva (2006); and Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha (2009), among others.
“Our selection of appetizers will be our signature cheese display, along with caramelized onions and goat cheese baked on bruschetta, house-cured salmon canapés, seared tuna brochettes and Serrano ham. All of the appetizers have been designed to complement the wines,” noted Glass in Swirl’s press release.

MOODS OF SWIRL
The next Swirl, in May, will feature equally interesting food and wine offerings from Symons General Store, plus music from Petoskey vocalist/guitarist Chris Koury. Ahrens thinks that every Swirl is a great Swirl, because they’re all so different.
“I really enjoy it when people attend as a first date, as it’s a ‘walk-around’ event, so good for making that sometimes uncomfortable small talk on first dates,” Ahrens chuckles, “I also think it’s special when small groups attend Swirl together, like a girls’ night out, or wine tasting clubs.”
Swirl, perhaps in the opposite of many Northern Michigan popular pursuits, goes into hibernation in the summertime, though, so it’s best to support Swirl while you can - and look forward to next fall, when Swirl is likely to get an early start if the public continues to demand it over the next couple of events.
“We may add a fall series in September and October, as we’ve had many requests,” Ahrens says.
Swirl’s next event takes place on April 21 at CTAC, 461 E. Mitchell Street in downtown Petoskey; doors open at 5:30 p.m. with food and music running to 7:00 p.m. Tix are $10 in advance, $15 day of the event, while tickets last. To purchase tix or get more info on all Swirl events, contact CTAC at
www.crookedtree.org, or telephone them at 231-347-4337.
 
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