10 Can’t-Miss Fall Wine Festivals

Courtesy of the Billy Farrell Agency

Autumn, with its backdrop of brilliantly hued foliage and crisp cool nights, is the best time of year for regions around the country to host a wine festival. From Martha’s Vineyard to Sin City, and even Disney World, here are 10 of the best, beyond Napa and Sonoma. Expect grand tastings with opportunities to sip dozens of wines, wine-geek seminars, winemaker dinners, and chefs’ cooking demos. Many of these festivals bring locally grown grapes into the spotlight too (such as Arizona and Maryland, which have up-and-coming wine regions). Most have celebrity guests, so keep your eyes peeled for your favorite culinary gods and goddesses.

 

By Kristine Hansen

Courtesy of Kohler Co.

Kohler Food & Wine Experience, Kohler, Wisconsin

WHERE: Kohler, Wisconsin

 

When: October 17-20, 2013

 

Details: Hosted an hour north of Milwaukee, in the charming company town of Kohler (home to the luxury manufacturer of plumbing products), is the three-day long Kohler Food & Wine Experience at the posh resort, The American Club. A mix of celebrity chefs (like Jacques Pépin and Cat Cora) and local favorites (such as the Beekman Boys) create delicious meals. The experience also offers about 20 wine seminars each day taught by wine rock stars like Kent Rosenblum and Marc Mondavi and there is even a seminar on pairing bacon with wine.

 

Cost: Seminars, $25-$42. Friday night’s grand tasting (“Taste of the Vine”), $95.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Wisconsin Guide

Courtesy of Wicomico County, Maryland

Maryland Autumn Wine Festival, Salisbury, Maryland

WHERE: Salisbury, Maryland

 

When: October 19-20, 2013

 

Details: At the Maryland Autumn Wine Festival, twenty-some Maryland wines are poured in Pemberton Park to the tunes of Dave Matthews Band collaborator Tim Reynolds and TR3 along with other live-music acts. Wine seminars are hosted daily. VIP treatment (limited to 200 people daily) provides access to reserved parking, tastings with vintners and winemakers, a wine-making forum and a goodie bag.

 

Cost: Tickets bought in advance and through the website range from $25 (day pass) to $40 (two-day pass). $35 day passes sold at the gate. VIP tickets are available through October 17 for $55 (one day) or $90 (two days).

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Salisbury, Maryland Guide

Courtesy of Modus Photography/Seeing Red Wine Festival

Seeing Red Wine Festival, Seaside, Florida

WHERE: Seaside, Florida

 

When: October 31-November 3, 2013

 

Details: Florida’s laidback Panhandle region welcomes a couture wine scene with Seeing Red Wine Festival. A vintner’s dinner (with Jed Steele of Steele Winery of Lake County, California) at Bud & Alley’s Restaurant, two wine seminars with California’s Pali Wine Co., a sparkling-wine tasting and two major tastings (one al fresco) are included in the festivities.

 

Cost: $35-$185 per event.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Florida Panhandle Guide

Courtesy of Dean Barnes

Denver International Wine Festival

WHERE: Denver

 

When: November 6-9, 2013

 

Details: At Denver International Wine Festival there are enough events to pack into four days, including a food-and-wine pairing competition (contestants are Colorado chefs); a tasting of 400 wines, beers, spirits; educational seminars about wine; and a daylong tour of three local wineries, plus one distillery.

 

Cost: $95-$210 per event.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Denver Guide

Courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Food & Wine All-Star Weekend, Las Vegas

WHERE: Las Vegas

 

When: October 4-6, 2013

 

Details: Las Vegas Boulevard has long been a hotspot for flashy dining but nowhere is this more true than at the Food & Wine All-Star Weekend. Jean Georges Vongerichten, Michael Mina, Joël Robuchon and Jason Smith (Bellagio’s Master Sommelier, who teaches a Syrah seminar and presides over a champagne brunch during the weekend) are all on deck to coach in the art of pairing foods and wines. Robuchon’s six-course menu and wine pairing is on Saturday night at his namesake eatery.

 

Cost: $95-$595 per event.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Las Vegas Guide

Courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival

Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

WHERE: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

 

When: October 17-20, 2013

 

Details: Long after the summer crowds go home, Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival welcomes wine aficionados for “a celebration of sea, farm, and wine.” Chefs linked to area restaurants and hotels—such as Harbor View Hotel, The Sweet Life Cafe and Tremont 647—tinker with fall foods, while wine geeks collaborate at the first annual Sommelier Throw Down. At the grand tasting on Saturday, the island’s food and wine cultures collide with chef demos and wine pours. Six wine and food seminars round out the festival’s events.

 

Cost: $25-$40 per event.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Guide to Martha's Vineyard

Courtesy of the Billy Farrell Agency

New York City Wine & Food Festival

WHERE: New York City

 

When: October 17-20, 2013

 

Details: What better place than Manhattan’s diverse culinary scene to host a wine and food festival? The star-studded roster of chefs include Todd English, Michael Symon, Rachael Ray, and Laurent Tourondel. It's more than a feast for the eyes—practically everywhere you turn there’s a stellar wine or nibble to be had. Walk-around tastings, late-night parties, and brunches put a new spin on food and wine fêtes. Ray Isle (wine writer for Food & Wine magazine), renowned wine author Jancis Robinson, and Wine Spectator each host wine seminars.

 

Cost: $21.78-$326.63 per event.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's New York City Guide

Courtesy of Town Point Virginia Wine Festival

Town Point Virginia Wine Festival, Norfolk, Virginia

WHERE: Norfolk, Virginia

 

When: October 19-20, 2013

 

Details: Held in downtown Norfolk's Town Point Park, more than 30 Virginia wineries participate in the Town Point Virginia Wine Festival. All of the wine can be purchased on-site, a boon since many of those wineries don’t distribute outside of Virginia. Live music and food prepared by local chefs using state-grown ingredients round out the festival.

 

Cost: $30-$35 per day for tasting.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Norfolk Guide

Courtesy of Matt Stroshane/The Walt Disney Company

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Orlando, Florida

WHERE: Orlando, Florida

 

When: September 27-November 11, 2013

 

Details: During the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the park caters to grown-ups with wine-education seminars, cheese seminars, and nightly outdoor concerts from acts like Sister Hazel, Sugar Ray, and the Pointer Sisters.

 

Cost: Included with admission to the park.

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Orlando Guide

Courtesy of T.A. Johnson/Willcox Wine Country

Willcox Wine Country Festival, Willcox, Arizona

WHERE: Willcox, Arizona

 

When: October 19-20, 2013

 

Details: Arizona's lesser-known beverage product—wine—is paired with live music at the Willcox Wine Country Festival. The event is held near a grape-growing region and one hour from Tucson. At the fest is an opportunity to sample 70 wines from 16 local wineries, to the tune of live music.

 

Cost: $15 tasting fee (for eight wines).

 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit the Fodor's Willcox Guide