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Summer is underway, and all of us wine lovers know what that means — wine festival season!

What Is A Wine Festival?

Not familiar with these events? Here’s a little breakdown: Many cities throughout the country (and even the world) host events where visitors can sample wine, make some new discoveries, become familiar with local wineries, try out some food pairings, and make memories. These have become widely and popularly known as wine festivals.

Wine festivals are a great way to socialize and learn more about wine, and they become bigger each year. And if you consider yourself an avid wine lover, you should definitely check one out this season.

But how can you enter the gates of your first or next wine festival with your best foot forward? Use this guide to figure out how to navigate a festival from start to finish — whether you have questions about finding an event near you, packing for the day, or what you should do while you’re there, we can help. Let’s start with the basics:

Where to Find a Festival

Since wine festivals are so big now, you can probably find one within an hour of you at some point this summer no matter where you are. Whether you’re at home and want to find a way to spend a Saturday or you want to take a road trip, chances are that the town will be hosting at least one festival in the next few months.

You can easily find a wine festival near you by looking up your favorite local attractions. Many barns, parks, and beaches host these kinds of events because they have lots of open space for stands and vendors.

Or, if you’d like to find a festival even more easily, just look up “wine festivals near me” in a search engine. You’re bound to find plenty of options — there are tons of local wine blogs and national sites out there that specialize in locating wine festivals.

As you’re researching, keep in mind that some festivals last one day and others are multi-day events. If your wine festival of choice lasts a few days, be sure to plan accordingly.

What to Bring Along With You

And that’s where packing comes in. Now that you know what festival you’re going to, it’s time to get ready for the event.

There are certain things you can’t do without at a wine festival. So break out your best backpack or easy-to-carry bag, and prepare to pack it up with the following items:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat
  • Water
  • Money for parking
  • Snacks
  • Money for food

Obviously, you’ll want to pack comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking around all day. Sunscreen and a hat are also helpful, especially if it’ll be warm and sunny on the day you attend.

As far as refreshments go, you’ll definitely want to bring water. If you can’t bring a full bottle into the event, just bring an empty reusable bottle that you can fill up throughout the day. Since you’ll be drinking wine all day, you’ll want to pace yourself by drinking ample amounts of water. And, of course, to balance out the alcohol, you’ll need food as well. They probably won’t allow outside food at the wine festival you go to, so be sure to either eat before it starts or bring money for a meal. Many festivals have stands with finger food as well, but they’re typically only in sample portions.

Then comes parking. Whether or not you’ll be charged for parking depends primarily on the event and the venue, but you should be prepared regardless. Come to the festival with enough cash to pay for parking, food, and any other things you may want to buy while you’re there.

And now that you’re all packed up and ready to go, you can head into the festival!

The Do’s and Don’t of Wine Festivals

Each wine festival has its own set of loose unspoken rules. Read this list of do’s and don’ts to learn the ins and outs of wine festival etiquette and get the most out of your experience:

DO

  • Have cash on hand
  • Try wineries and varieties you haven’t tried
  • Ask questions
  • Collect business cards
  • Get a designated driver
  • Create a plan for the day
  • Walk around as you enter
  • Snack and drink water throughout the day
  • Make use of dump buckets
  • Take notes in menus or notebooks

DON’T

  • Rely on a credit card
  • Stay by one familiar stand
  • Just drink and leave every stand
  • Let a newly formed relationship go
  • Drink and drive
  • Go into the day without a plan
  • Only visit the crowded stands at the front
  • Let yourself get sick
  • Drink too much too quickly
  • Let yourself forget about your favorites

 

And most importantly, have fun! So there you have it — everything you need to get ready for and attend your next wine festival. With this guide in your pocket, you’ll be a pro at navigating your next (or first) event.

Still need some practice? Try some wine from unfamiliar wineries and take notes at home before your next festival. And we can help — order from a variety of seasonal wines available daily on our online wine store!