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WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Wegmans Wine & Spirits, the alcoholic beverage department of Wegmans Food Markets, will be one of the key sponsors of this weekend's Jersey Fresh Wine & Food Festival at Mercer County Community College here.
At the festival, consumers purchase a souvenir wine glass for $20 that enables them to sample wines from the seven of the Garden State's 26 wineries participating in the event. They can also attend cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, meet cookbook authors, and sample Garden State produce and seafood. Food from area restaurants will be sold at a nominal fee.
According to the association's Web site, sponsorships range in price from $5,000 to $25,000. Sponsorship perks include banners at the festival, ads in printed materials and publications distributed at the event, booths, and complimentary passes to the tasting.
Wegmans sells wines at three of its four New Jersey stores in Bridgewater, Princeton, and Manalapan; its Woodbridge store does not have a liquor license. Officials at Wegmans Rochester, N.Y. headquarters declined comment, but the wine steward at the Manalapan store said that location sells wines from New Jersey's Alba, Tomasello, and Unionville Vineyards wineries.
Barring a gate crashing by Tropical Storm Bonnie and her big brother Hurricane Charlie, who are expected to make their way up the Coast this weekend, organizers expect the festival to attract 7,000 visitors on each of its two days. The demographic makeup is ideal for an upscale chain like Wegmans, with 29 percent of attendees having a household income of $75,000 to $100,000 and 36 percent having an income over $100,000. Approximately 81 percent of the visitors are New Jersey residents, with 14 percent from New York and Pennsylvania and 6 percent from other states or countries.
The Garden State Wine Growers Association in conjunction with The New Jersey Restaurant Association, the Central New Jersey chapter of Slow Food, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture presents the festival. In addition to Wegmans, the Marriott Fairway Villas at Seaview is serving as a co-sponsor.