What Is a Wine Festival?

Sheri Cyprus

A wine festival is a public event for people interested in learning about, tasting and discussing wines. Winery staff have tables or booths in which they pour samples of their products for festival attendees as well as answer any questions and respond to comments. Typically held by a wine festival society in a city or larger town known for producing fine wines, these types of festivals often include awards. Wine festivals vary in their size, but often have hundreds of different wines featured. The format of each festival also varies, yet having each attendee bring his or her own glass to try the different products is common.

Sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine.

Having sinks or other water sources available in which attendees can rinse their glass in between wine tastings is a part of some larger festivals. At a smaller wine festival, the attendees may bring their own water for the purpose. Since wine is an alcoholic beverage, many festival goers also like to drink water as well as enjoy brought or purchased snacks at regular intervals between tastings.

Wine festivals may offer wine testing.
Wine festivals may offer wine testing.

A festival may be organized by wineries or by varieties of wine. In the first method, each wine maker or winery is given a booth or section of the festival's indoor or outdoor space. Each winery may then display a range of products. In the second type of wine festival organization, each beverage category such as red, white, sparkling and dessert wines is given its own area.

Indoor wine festivals may be held in large banquet rooms.
Indoor wine festivals may be held in large banquet rooms.

Parks or beachside venues are often locales for outdoor wine festivals, while indoor versions may be held in stadiums, halls or banquet rooms. A festival may run only a few days, usually through the weekend, or it may continue for several weeks. Tickets are typically sold in advance, with some often being available at the festival site. Prices and hours of the event depend on the venue as well as operating decisions made by the organizers, such as a wine festival society.

If a society will be awarding prizes to wineries, it's often for titles such as Best New Red or Outstanding Dessert Wine. The society or other wine tasting judges may not announce the winners until sometime after the festival. Being a festival award winner can mean that wine lovers will want to purchase that particular beverage. Winery staff pouring samples to wine festival goers also often have printed brochures containing information about their products to hand outs.

Wine festivals usually feature a variety of wine varieties.
Wine festivals usually feature a variety of wine varieties.

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