Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival – Eat, Drink, Learn

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Colleen Minton, founder of Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival.

So, what is it?

Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival is a multi-day event celebrating sustainable food and drink through education, story, taste and smell right here in Chapel Hill.  It’s the seventh year this shindig has gone down, and it has evolved into a gathering of self-proclaimed foodies, renowned chefs, and cookbook authors alike.  Oh, and it’s a festival, so it’s fun.  With learning.  While celebrating community.  Aka, every foodie’s dream.


Terra Vita - Colleen

Terra Vita – Colleen

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Colleen Minton is the genius that willed this extravaganza into existence.  She created the festival to remind people of where food comes from, to celebrate the deep history of food, and to educate the community in the importance of sustainability.  Every year, Colleen handpicks and seeks out chefs, authors, and academics that align with her vision to participate in Terra Vita.

What is there to do?

You can eat, you can learn, and then, you can eat some more! A complete list of events is located here.

I’ll highlight two events in particular:

The Sustainable Classroom

This is the heart and origin of the festival.  Colleen has carefully selected a diverse group of panelists to lead each workshop.  This year, eight classes are available, and the courses are listed here.  Each session has been designed to engage all the senses, and incorporates small bites or sips to connect people to the panel’s story.  Come learn why heirloom breeds are important in maintaining biodiversity, how to pair hard cider with your holiday meals, and much more.

Grand Tasting on the Green

It’s anticipated that 30 high caliber chefs will participate, each preparing a unique small plate to knock your socks off. 200 beverages will also be available, including craft coffee, beers, wines and cocktails. Some players to look forward to:


Centro, Raleigh

F.A.R.M Café, Boone

Fork! Cornelius

Heirloom, Charlotte

Kitchen, Chapel Hill

Moffett, Charlotte

Pinpoint, Wilmington

Saint Jacques, Raleigh

Terra Vita

Terra Vita


Fullsteam Brewery, Durham

Mother Earth Brewing, Kinston

Fair Game Beverage Company Wine and Spirits, Pittsboro

Crude Bitters and Sodas, Raleigh

TOPO Organic Spirits at Top of the Hill Distillery, Chapel Hill

The deets on how to maneuver the Grand Tasting on the Green:

So I asked Colleen for the inside scoop on what every guest should know about the Grand Tasting.  30 small plates and 200 beverages is a lot for three and a half hours!  Her words of wisdom: Get there on time, come hungry and have a strategy.  Scope out the dishes and drinks being served, and prioritize what you want to try first so that you don’t get stuck in a line waiting for something you really weren’t all that into.  You may not get to try everything if you go from booth to booth and wait in every line, so be smart about your time.  Eat, drink and be merry!

What the real foodies shouldn’t miss:

The class pass to the Sustainable Classroom.  To make an educated decision about what we eat and drink, we have to be educated first.  Treat yourself.  Learn something new about the food you love.

Terra Vita

Terra Vita

Photos courtesy of Colleen Minton.

Christine Nguyen is a structural engineer working in downtown Raleigh.  She is an alumna of NC State University and Virginia Tech where she was a member of the Food Science Club.  Christine is an avid traveler, and a lover of good food and company.  You can follow her on Instagram @atinywin.


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