Corks & Forks: Behind the Scenes with Festival Founder Debbie Trenholm

By Lexy Correa

Debbie Trenholm is the owner and founder of Savvy Company and Corks & Forks: Kingston’s International Wine Festival. We had the chance to get the inside scoop on the upcoming festival happening April 12-14th. From must-see events to choosing Kingston as the ideal location, read on to find out what goes into planning a world-class wine festival.

For more information on specific events and to get your tickets, click here!

LC: How would you describe the essence of Corks & Forks?

DT: What I find fascinating about the wine industry is actually meeting the people who make the wine – this is exactly the essence of Corks & Forks. You get to meet the makers and know them on a personal level in addition to knowing their talent as winemakers. Because this festival will happen every year, you’ll get to see them again and catch up with them as friends.

“I think Kingston is ripe and ready for a wine festival. And not just any wine festival – this is a combination of experience and education.”




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LC: What made you choose Kingston as the festival location?

DT: I personally love Kingston. I’m a grad of Queen’s University’s Executive MBA Program as well as an avid sailor. While visiting, it became more and more apparent that Kingston is often overlooked when it comes to the wine scene – just like Ottawa was when I started the business 15 years ago. All the wine industry events were happening in Toronto and Montreal. I started Savvy Company with the goal to put Ottawa on the map by bringing winemakers and wine events with the idea of giving wine lovers the opportunity to meet the makers.

15 years later, it was clear to me that there was an opportunity to do something similar with Kingston. I think Kingston is ripe and ready for a wine festival. And not just any wine festival – this is a combination of experience and education.

LC: Do you have an event in the festival that you’re most excited for?

DT: I’m looking forward to the grand opening on Friday, April 12th. All of us in the Savvy Team put a lot of heart, soul, and late nights into organizing this festival – and there are more late nights to come!  Everyone has been incredibly supportive about Corks & Forks – from the winemakers to the community in Kingston, to people like yourself who want to put Kingston on the wine map! I can’t wait to celebrate the arrival of this annual wine festival. We’ll raise a glass to everyone who’s supported Corks & Forks from its creation to the actual grand opening.




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LC: Is there any significance in the dates of the festival?

DT: We picked April 12-14, 2019 because it’s that change of season. We’ll put that spring in someone’s step to make them recognize that summer sipping season is near (even though it’s hard to believe on a cold winter day)! When you explore the world of wine there are so many amazing styles. And you don’t have to look far because there are incredible wines made across Canada and as close as Prince Edward County too. It’s a never-ending study and opportunity to learn something new.

LC: What makes the festival unique and something visitors HAVE to see?

DT: So many things! What makes Corks & Forks different is there is learning as well as listening. You’ll listen to the winemakers about their products. And you’ll also take a step to learn more about what makes the wine special and what makes the winemaker talented.

Wine industry pros like wine writer Tony Aspler will give you a wine tour of Ontario without hitting the 401! He’s ready to share ‘must visit’ travel tips and how to taste like a pro.

We’re also in the midst of organizing dinners with winemakers at various restaurants downtown – that’s always a neat experience.And just finalized – Riedel has come on board to do wine ‘classes’ that showcase their glassware. They create different shapes of glasses for different types of wine. It’s a science of enhancing the experience when you have a glass suited and tailored for the specific wine.

LC: What can people expect from Corks & Forks?

DT: People can expect great social and educational experiences from the festival; meeting makers, wine writers, and people who teach about wine and food pairing for a living.

Staying the night in Kingston for the festival? Check out these hotels

Want to be the first to know about the new events and details about the festival? Email to get insider access. You can also keep up with all the action by following them on Facebook and Instagram.