For the past eleven years the Nashville Predators have hosted their annual Wine Festival and Tasting in the spring. The event, which brings hundreds of hockey fans and wine lovers together, is always a popular gathering to benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation. During the Wine Festival, the ice is covered and patrons circle the rink to get their fill of wine, liquor and tasty treats. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get more educated on wine along with discovering what types are more fulfilling on the palette.

“It’s a great cause and great event and we have a lot of great wines here,” said Darrell Freeze, Field Sales Manager for Constellation Brands. “I like to see everyone trying the wines and tasting them, then educating them on where they will be at, and try to get some customer awareness in the area.”

Each year also brings new brands and libations to the event, like many from Constellation Brands. In addition to that, with plenty of local vineyards, distilleries and breweries, there is a good touch of local flavor to the Wine Festival.

“We have a lot of our repeat customers in our 11th year,” said Rebecca King, Senior Director of Community Relations for the Predators. “They come every year and they’ve just seen it grow. The wine community is growing in Nashville. We have a lot of wineries that exist. Our VIP wine host is out of Italy (Castello Banfi) and there’s a local guy that promotes their wines here. Michael Hendry comes every year out of Napa and he is from Hendry Vineyards. It’s a nice event in that the wineries from all over come to represent their wines. It’s one that they look forward to every year.”

Throughout the year, the Nashville Predators host multiple events to benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation. Each season, the Foundation has featured charities that it will benefit, and for the 2015-16 season, those charities are The Brown Center for Autism, Habitat for Paws, Davis House and Nashville Diaper Connection. Along with the featured charities, the Foundation also benefits multiple organizations through grant money and volunteering. This year, the Nashville Predators Foundation will be giving out its largest one-time grant allocation ever.

“In May, we’ll do our largest one-time grant allocation of $450,000,” said King. “Each year, we’re able to increase what we do, because each year, our events grow. The team being successful has a trickle down effect. Everyone wants to be a part of an event that’s affiliated with a team that’s doing really well.

What helps make these events so successful is the amount of time and effort that is given by volunteers and distributors along with employees of the team. Putting events like these together is not a simple feat.

“We have over 150 volunteers working tonight,” said King. “Then, the wineries and distributors each brought another 100 people to work the event. To put on an event of this size, it does take a lot of people, but it just continues to grow and people enjoy coming back every year. We have over 72 tables of product, which is more than we’ve ever had before. We have 13 restaurants in attendance, which is more than we’ve ever had. We used to just have four providing food, so we definitely upped the ante in quantity of product, type of product and food.”

It’s not just the patrons and the volunteers that recognize the effort that is put in to making a successful event. The distributors and brands themselves know how important the Foundation is to the community and the impact the team makes on it.

“Anytime you can do something locally, it means a lot to everybody,” said Darrell Freeze. “The Predators are a great hockey team, so it’s a great cause and that makes it worth the while to spend the time and get people to sample the different wines and support the event for the Foundation.”

It won’t be long until the next event happens at Bridgestone Arena to benefit the Foundation. If wine and liquor aren’t at the top of your list, maybe craft beer will be. Since its inception, the Nashville Predators Beer Festival has continued to grow in the number of breweries present and the amount of people that attend the event. The planning process is already under way.

“Our next event is our beer festival,” said King. “It’s on Saturday, June 25th. We turn the full concourse into tasting stations. We anticipate it’ll be bigger. That event grows by leaps and bounds every year. New breweries open, and it’s indoors, so no matter how hot or if it storms, our event can continue. We anticipate over 3,000 people to attend that event.”

Along with Wine Festival and Beer Festival, the Nashville Predators also host Petey’s Preds Party and GnashVegas Casino Gala. All events benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation. For more information on the Foundation, click here.