Enjoying Wine Festivals

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Wine has always had a place in our celebratory lives! Royalty and citizenry alike have celebrated life’s events with good food, friends and wine. We even celebrate the milestones of the vineyard itself.

Bud break celebrates new growth on the vines, which leads to summer passports through lush vineyards. Blessing of the Grapes is our signal that the harvest is to begin; we express gratitude and hope for a safe and successful harvest season when lush grape clusters are picked, sorted and crushed into the juice that becomes our divine objects of affection. We then close out the growing season with a fall harvest festival filled with a variety of activities, games, music, camaraderie and, of course, wine tasting!

Why do we do this? Every wine region of the world has their unique stamp on wines they produce and the food that is prepared to show its best character. Like a unique fingerprint, a wine region will have traditions, flavors and nuances from the local terroir that make their wines stand out differently from the rest of the world.

We love wine festivals because we enjoy learning about the winemakers who create new wines while celebrating our favorites. Combining this wine love with unique food pairing styles and events makes the festival specific to the region and we get to take part in something uniquely special.

Wine lovers tend to be a happy bunch! When we arrive, we’re already excited about meeting legendary winemakers as well as the wine pioneers who are exploring quality wines through sustainability and organic farming. We are very fortunate in the United States to have a multitude of wine regions accessible by car, train or airplane; no passport is needed! Are you headed to New York, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon or California? Just enter #winefestivals in your smart device and you can plan a quick trip or travel for weeks just celebrating wine from May to November. You can even search for your favorite varietal or wine region #zinfandelfestival, #pinotnoirfestival, #FingerLakesWines or #CentralCoastWines.

There are several types of wine festivals to look for. Passport events are typically supported by multiple wineries in one wine region. When you purchase a ticket for these events, the ticket is your “passport” to all the participating wineries that you can walk, drive to or shuttle to from a central location. Each location may even stamp your ticket as you check in or leave for your next stop. Centralized events may be held at one large winery facility or a community space such as the local fairgrounds or historic building. This event may feature several wineries and chefs under one roof; your event glass is used throughout the event for all your wine tastings. Varietal festivals usually focus on one type of wine and may include a long weekend of events, paired dinners, winemaker seminars and exclusive tastings. Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Barbera are popular festivals focused on featuring the best attributes of those varietals.

If you love chefs, you’ll find them at the best wine festivals sharing their newest pairings of classic cuisine flavors and modern gastronomical wonders. They love to play with their food! Cooking demonstrations will heighten your senses, introducing you to new ways to use wine in your recipes while enjoying the custom of sharing food, friendship and wine.

If your passport’s current, festivals create delicious reasons to celebrate the wine lifestyle all over the world. Gourmet food and wine travel has exploded with interest in recent years and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Foodies and those who explore life through their experience with wine, culture and local food scenes can plan specific travel around wines of Spain, New Zealand or Croatia. Cruise lines offer on-board experiences with sommelier-guided tours of the ships’ wine cellars and kitchen areas with mainland excursions to private dining experiences with celebrity chefs and remarkable wines.

Now’s the time to get out and explore the world of wine festivals! ■


Maximize Your Experience
Here are some tips to help get the most out of your wine festival.
– Pre-purchase your ticket; it saves money and time.
– Arrange hotel rooms when you buy your event ticket.
– Wear comfortable footwear and layered clothing.
– Eat something before you go; hundreds of folks arrive hungry.
– Drink water between tasting wines.
– Watch the sunshine; heat dehydrates especially when wine tasting.
– Take pictures of favorite wines. It’s easier than writing it down.
– Leave your canine companion home. Increasingly, local regulations are
tightening around food sanitation permits and quality assurance, which may
prohibit animals from the areas you want to visit.
– Designate your driver! Buy your friend a ticket to enjoy just food and
entertainment; thank them with a few bottles of wine from the event they can
enjoy at home.