By Jessica Festa
Artisanal cheeses, gourmet chowders, decadent chocolates and local reds, whites and rosés. Throughout the country, cities are celebrating local foods, bold and refreshing wines and sustainable culinary practices. To help you experience it for yourself, here are ten food and wine festivals to check out this fall.
Harvest On The Harbor: Portland, Maine
From October 24 to 27, seafood and wine lovers can head to Portland for Harvest on the Harbor. Food tastings, a lobster competition, wine events, special menus and culinary seminars are just a few of the featured events. The event allows attendees to go local by sampling cuisine from Maine’s talented chefs and visiting the area’s best restaurants. Moreover, gourmet products from local fisherman, farmers and culinary artisans are showcased, as well as beer, wine and spirits.
Tickets are $50 to $75 per person. Click here to order.
Phantom Gourmet Wine & Food Fest: Boston, Massachusetts
One of the most worthwhile, yet inexpensive culinary events out there, the Phantom Gourmet Wine & Food Fest will take place this year on November 10, 2012. With your unlimited ticket, attend one of two sessions — 3:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. — where you’ll have the opportunity to sample 30 wines from all over the world paired with ten of Phantom’s favorite foods. Think artisanal cheeses, indulgent chocolates, rich cheesecakes and gourmet clam chowders, all eaten along with your favorite reds, whites and rosés.
Tickets are $30 per person. Click here to order.
New York City Food & Wine Festival: New York, NY
Presented by the Food Network, the New York City Food & Wine Festival is one of the most popular epicurean events of the year. Taking place from October 11 to 14, the festival will feature celebrity cooking personalities as well as local chefs like Peter Beck, a native of India who has brought his heritage to Benares Indian restaurant in Midtown West; Amorette Casaus, who focuses on fresh, local and artisanal ingredients at Ardesia in Hell’s Kitchen; and Karen DeMasco, a pastry chef at Locanda Verde who focuses on serving the community foods from their own local farmers. Attend panels, dinners, parties, tastings classes and seminars like the “Best of Blackberry Farm” wine pairing seminar, “Farmer Meets Chef” meal events and a “Master Chocolate Making Class” with Jacques Torres, also known as “Mr. Chocolate.” Best of all, 100 percent of profits go toward helping fight hunger in the five boroughs as well as to Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit fighting to end the hunger of children in America.
Ticket prices vary by event and date.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Where better to enjoy a culinary festival than the beautiful islands of Hawaii? From November 2 to 11, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival will feature java-inspired events like a coffee and art stroll, a coffee picking contest, coffee recipe contest, a coffee living history farm tour, a cupping competition and more. There will also be a dinner and benefit auction and various cultural events on the itinerary.
Only a few events have admission charges.
Wisconsin Cheese Originals Annual Festival: Madison, Wisconsin
While many food festivals celebrate an array of foods, the Wisconsin Cheese Originals Annual Festival focuses on the state’s speciality — cheese. Taking place from November 9 to 10, the event aims to share “information about new artisan cheeses by hosting a variety of events.” Attendees can enjoy seminars, tastings, dairy tours and gala dinners. Highlights include farm and creamery excursions with curd tastings straight from the vat, artisanal cheese pairings with wine and “The Future of Farmstead & Artisan Cheeses in Wisconsin,” a seminar on whiskey and chocolate pairings. Additionally, you can enjoy all this cheese tasting knowing you’re doing something good for the community, as a large portion of the proceeds go toward scholarships and support for the continuing education of Wisconsin cheesemakers.
Ticket prices vary by event. Click here to order.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair: Santa Rosa, California
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair celebrates the local harvest, and from October 5 to 7, you can celebrate too. Wine lovers will enjoy tastings from over 150 wineries, “The World Championship Grape Stomp” and a vino marketplace. Moreover, there will be chef demonstrations and workshops, farm and harvest agricultural activities, live music, a craft market, farm animals, an art show and more. The best part? The winners of “The World Championship Grape Stomp,” which involves teams of two stomping grapes in a barrel while filling a jug among other things, will receive four airline tickets good for any Horizon or Alaska Airlines regularly scheduled service.
Tickets start at $10. Click here to order.
Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest: Fredericksburg, Texas
Texas is well known for its unique food festival fare, so you won’t want to miss this event. On October 27, from noon to 7:00 p.m., the Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest will help event-goers celebrate Texas food, wine and music. Expect over 100 wines from 25 different wineries, 50 speciality food booths and celebrity chef sightings. Leading up to the festival there will also be preview events. On Thursday, enjoy a Sicilian Feast, while Friday attend a dinner complete with local food and wine. Before the festival on Saturday, you can buy tickets for a Patron Party wine brunch.
Tickets start at $20. Call 830-997-8515 to order or purchase at the gate.
Kohler Food & Wine Experience: Kohler, Wisconsin
From October 18 to 21, the Village of Kohler will host their annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience. For those who want to indulge their epicurean curiosities, the event will feature seminars from local and international chefs, wine tastings, demonstrations and opportunities to mingle with experts in the business. Most events include complimentary wine and food sampling, book signings and trunk shows. Some highlights include a chef’s challenge, chocolate seminar, a beer pairing luncheon and a workshop focusing on the evolution of port over the last 300 years.
Ticket prices vary by event. Call 800-344-2838 to order.
Catch The Crush: Yakima Valley, Washington
Catch The Crush is a festival where wineries individually host an array of events. Taking place this year from October 13 to 14, visitors can winery hop and take part in activities like vineyard tours, live music performances, grape stomping, harvest and crush activities and wine tastings. What’s interesting is it’s the time of year right before the grapes are fermented, so visitors can witness the process of crushing and taste the wine grapes beforehand. You’ll also have the opportunity to purchase wines at discounted prices.
Tickets cost $30 per person online or $35 at the door. Click here to order.
Taste of Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia
Taste of Atlanta is the city’s premier food, wine, beer and cocktail festival showcasing the diversity of Atlanta’s food scene and attracting food lovers from Atlanta, the Southeast and beyond. From October 5 to 7, attendees will be able to taste culinary fare from over 80 local restaurants while also experiencing hands-on cooking classes, wine, beer and cocktail tastings and culinary demonstrations from Atlanta’s top chefs. Specific listings to watch out for include a “Barcraft Competition,” where the city’s top mixologists compete to concoct the best handcrafted cocktails; “Chopped Challenge: Facebook Face-Off,” which features two of Atlanta’s most social-media friendly restaurants preparing unusual dishes with ingredients chosen by their Facebook fans; and “Les Dames d’Escoffier: Clean Eating,” which gives insight into eating foods in their natural state for optimal health.
Tickets start at $25. Click here to book.
*For another local wine experience, check out our article on The Bucks County Wine Trail
About Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and finding places you don’t see in guidebooks. You can follow her adventures on her travel website, Jessie on a Journey.
Photo by: Lehigh Valley, PA