Members of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association travel throughout the year seeking out the best food and wine festivals. Here are their favorites.
With a name like Grapevine, you’d expect the celebration of wine and food to be a natural for this Texas town. This city really knows how to pop the cork and puts on one of the best food and wine festivals. Every September, Grapevine rolls out the red carpet for visitors to taste the best fruit of the vine at the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, Texas Wine Tribute and the Urban Wine Trail from local Texas and other state wineries. Stomp grapes, dance to live entertainment on three stages and shop for artisan crafts, jewelry and wearables. You won’t go hungry either as you feast on vittles like turkey legs and wild game sausages or fajitas, wood-fired pizza, fried Oreos, mac & cheese balls and traditional corn dogs and funnel cakes. This is one wine festival that’s aged to perfection. The 32nd Annual Grapefest will be held September 13-16, 2018.
Mira Temkin, miratemkintravel.com
2. HERITAGE HARVEST FESTIVAL
The Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia provides two days of classes, events, displays, food trucks, and demonstrations to wow foodies. The festival celebrates Jefferson’s legacy in a fun, affordable, family-oriented, educational event promoting gardening, sustainability, local food, and the preservation of heritage plants. Adults love the educational value of wise food producers sharing their stories and products; kids love the petting zoo and ice cream. The 2018 Heritage Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, September 22.
Kurt Jacobson, Tasteoftravel2.com
Not only is UNLVino Las Vegas’s original wine festival, it is also the largest scholarship fundraiser for students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. What started in 1974 as a wine tasting in the warehouse of Southern Wine and Spirits, has grown to become the city’s premier food and wine festival. Participants include more than 50 wineries, spirits providers, chefs, restaurateurs, industry professionals, and students from the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV. UNLVino also features an auction loaded with packages from Las Vegas hotels, restaurants and businesses. The 44th annual UNLVino will be held April 14, 2018.
Chris Cutler, coldpastaandredwine.com
4. SEED FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
Miami’s Seed Food and Wine Festival is not just a festival, but a movement, “a community of ideas and passionate people committed to elevating the conversation around plant-based foods, sustainability, conscious living, vegan living and the welfare of animals.” The beauty of this festival is that, although it is a vegan event, it caters to all with delicious foods that would have even the most carnivorous souls never again coveting meat. In addition to the elegant array of exhibits and foods on display, participants are also able to sit in on informational sessions that range from marketing to plant-based living. Educational, entertaining, and if that’s not enough…there’s also wine! Held each November.
Edward G Young III, rebornstronger.com
5. INTERNATIONAL PINOT NOIR CELEBRATION
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is famous for stunning wine estates, gorgeous countryside, fine dining, and some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. The best food and wine festivals abound almost anywhere wine is grown, but the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), held each year since 1987 in McMinnville, Oregon, is one of the best for exploring world-class wines and fabulous cuisine. The festival is held each year on the last full weekend in July. At last year’s event, 72 wineries and more than 60 guest chefs joined 830 registered attendees for three days of wine tastings, vineyard tours, seminars, music, competitions, gourmet meals by top regional and international chefs, and more. The Sunday Passport to Pinot event welcomed 500 guests.
Nancy Zaffaro, ConfettiTravelCafe.com
6. CELEBRATE THE CRAFT
One afternoon in early fall above an ocean-hugging golf course, gourmets and wine lovers gather to Celebrate the Craft at the Torrey Pines Lodge. It’s a true and tony localvores lawn party, with sun hats, dresses, Hawaiian shirts, and couture. Once handed a souvenir wine glass at the entrance, you meander the different farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and fishmongers tables to your tummy’s content. There are distillers, pastry chefs and vintners to enjoy and a small band sways the crowd too. In the evening, invited providers are feted at an after-dinner event hosted, family style, by the Torrey Pines Lodge Executive Chef, Jeff Jackson. A portion of the proceeds are donated to Slow Food Urban San Diego. The 16th annual will be held in the Fall of 2018.
Elaine J Masters, tripwellgal.com
7. SEATTLE WINE AND FOOD EXPERIENCE
Celebrating it’s tenth anniversary this year, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience is three days of Pacific Northwest perfection. The event starts off with Pop! Bubbles & Seafood featuring samples of Pacific Northwest Seafood including local salmon, clams, and oysters prepared by premier Seattle restaurants. Local white, red, and rosé wines will help get you in the festive mood in addition to Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world. There’s also an array of indulgent gastropub favorites, craft beers, ciders and more. Finish off the festival with the Grand Tasting, a day culminating in everything you love about food and libations all in one place. Held in February each year.
Suzanne Bair, Accessiblefamilytravel.com
8. THE GARAGISTE FESTIVAL
The Garagiste Festival is an event that occurs four times a year in different regions of California, including Paso Robles, Sonoma, Solvang and Los Angeles. Having the festival in different areas allows more wine enthusiasts to experience and discover the wines of boutique wineries that ordinarily one would not have a chance to try. To quote their website, “a place for the underground, the different, and the cutting edge of small production winemaking with no rules.” If you are a serious wine lover, this is a must visit wine festival.
Cori Solomon, writtenpalette.com
9. PORTLAND VEGFEST
This annual festival celebrates all things vegan. Expect tons of free samples of everything from fine dark chocolates to almond milk-based chai to the latest in barbecued jackfruit. Plus, listen to top speakers on plant-based health research, fitness and enjoy cooking demos. You can meet the owners of Veg Voyages, who lead vegan tours around the world. My goal is to attend this year’s Portland Vegfest without eating my weight in delicious samples.
Teresa Bergen, vegtravelandfitness.com
10. PACIFIC WINE & FOOD CLASSIC
This summer classic takes place on the scenic waterfront stretch of Newport Dunes. It’s a celebration of food, wine and cocktails. Taste dishes from top local chefs, explore over 100 wines and handcrafted premium cocktails. My favorite is the celebrity chef demonstrations, master sommelier discussions and summer mixology demos at the Fisher & Paykel DCS Cooking Stage (which was hosted last year by Food Network Star, Simon Majumdar). The Pacific Wine & Food Classic is a fantastic gourmet experience on the beautiful soft sand in Newport Beach. VIP tickets are the way to go as you can enter early. The 2018 Classic will be held August 18-19.
Deirdre Michalski, TastesAndTravel.com
11. EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
Year after year, Walt Disney World in Orlando hosts “the happiest place on Earth” for foodies, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Visit dozens of food stands from countries around the world and sit in on culinary demonstrations and wine tastings. The event is held in the Fall each year, spread out over several weeks, and trust me, you’ll want to spend more than one day exploring this festival because there are so many different foods and drinks to try as you eat your way around the world.
Beth Graham, momuncorked.com
12. ROSWELL WINE FESTIVAL
Just a whistling distance from Atlanta lies the charming suburb of Roswell, Georgia. Each Fall, the Roswell Wine Festival takes over the main drag of Canton Street and gives attendees the opportunity to mingle and sip wines from around the world while popping in and out of Roswell’s art galleries, shops and restaurants. And, you will be drinking for a great cause. The festival is entirely volunteer staffed which enables the festival to donate most of its proceeds to a worthy cause, chosen each year by the festival committee. In 2017, the festival donated its earnings to a local non-profit, Keep Roswell Beautiful.
Mary Farah, alongcomesmaryblog.com
13. BORDEAUX FETE LE VIN
Bordeaux Fête le Vin is one of the world’s biggest and best wine festivals. Showcasing the wines of Bordeaux and the Nouvelle Aquitaine, over 80 of the regions appellations are represented at pop-up wine bars stretching for three kilometers along Bordeaux’s quay.This year mark s the 20th anniversary of Bordeaux Fête le Vin and will feature concerts, daily fireworks displays, workshops and special chateau visits. In addition, the Tall Ships Regata will bring some of the world’s tallest and most spectacular sailing ships to the Port of the Moon during this celebration of Bordeaux wine.
Jennifer Dombrowski, luxeadventuretraveler.com
14. OKANAGA WINE FESTIVALS
British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festivals celebrates the four seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter – with a variety of fun events for food and wine enthusiasts. Enjoy tastings, tours and tutorials together with live entertainment, wine awards and competitions, all set in the beautiful Okanagan.
Nancy Mueller, wanderboomer.com
15. PORT WINE DAY
Port Wine Day in Porto, Portugal celebrates the demarcation, in 1756, of the world’s first wine region. The festival actually runs for ten days, culminating on 10 September. It has something for everyone. Port wine tasting, of course, but also other regional wines, chefs’ demos, fine dining and street food events, and plenty of family fun. Port Wine Day is at once highbrow and informal. Restaurants and bars offer special wine-pairing menus and inventive cocktails, and members of the port shippers association sponsor a boat race on the Douro. In 2017, the festival closed with a sunset party of wine tastings and street food at a park in the center of town.
Tom Fakler and Anita Breland, anitasfeast.com