January 5, 2016
Ever since wine has been around there have been festivals to celebrate it. localwineevents.com lists 444 local wine festivals in the USA alone. Virtually all these events are open to the public, and many of them have the atmosphere of a county fair with rides, food stands and of course a number of vineyards offering wine for you to taste and purchase.
Some wine festivals are definitely unusual and quirky; check out thedrinkbusiness.com for some of them.
As best as I can determine the biggest wine festival in the world is the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt in Germany. Even though it is called a Wurstmarkt (literally ''Sausage Market'') it is really a wine festival. It is held in September of every year and has been around since 1417. Over 150 local wines are offered from the German ''Wine Road'' region to over 600,000 visitors each year.
There are other festivals that cater more to connoisseurs than to the general public. They tend to be a bit more upscale and focus on a specific wine such as Burgundy (La Paulée celebrated in Meursault, France, and San Francisco, CA), Riesling (Rieslingfeier, New York, NY) or Pinot Noir (International Pinot Noir Celebration, Portland, OR). These festivals are typically attended by fewer people, and the highlight is usually a dinner where exquisite meals are paired with selected wines brought by the attending wine makers.
At least once a year we have our own ''wine festival''. We gather with friends in our backyard; we set up some picnic tables and chairs, and everybody brings some food and what they think is the finest wine they have stacked away.
Wine is definitely something to celebrate.
Image © 2015 Rieslingfeier, Inc. used with permission.