Fun in the Sun: The 2011 Guide to Summer Food and Wine Festivals
Summer is the perfect time to sample the best tastes a region has to offer, and there’s no better opportunity than a food, wine, or beer festival. There are dozens of local wine and foodfests to choose from across the United States each summer. Jetset Extra takes away the guesswork with our guide to the best summer 2011 destinations to sample food, wine, or beer – and sometimes all three!
Aspen Food and Wine Classic
June 17 – 19 – Aspen, Colorado
Whether you love wine tasting or gourmet cooking – or both – be sure to check out the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. This three-day, high-altitude food- and wine-fest features tastings, cooking demonstrations, and seminars led by culinary superstars such as Mario Batali, José Andrés, Jacques Pépin, Gail Simmons, and Joshua Wesson. Three-day passes to the event are $1,185.
Taste of Chicago
June 24 – July 3 – Chicago, Illinois
Sample the Windy City’s diverse food offerings this summer at the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park. Nearly 60 restaurants serving cuisine from around the world will offer a tasting menu of six items each, two of which will be small portions priced at $2 or less. The offerings range from standbys like pizza and ribs to more exotic taste sensations such as mustard-fried catfish, collard-green eggrolls, and sautéed goat meat. Don’t forget to save room for dessert – a slice of sweet-potato cheesecake is the perfect way to top off your meal. Admission is free.
The Park City Food and Wine Classic
July 7 – 10 – Park City, Utah
Whether you prefer to sit back and relax with a nice cabernet or want to muck it up in the mud before brunch, the Food and Wine Classic in Park City, Utah has something to offer. This is a fantastic opportunity to sample the wares of more than 100 restaurants, wineries, food artisans, breweries, and distilleries. However, Utah is known for its spectacular scenery and outdoor lifestyle, so there’s a lot more in store than wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and seminars. You can go on a mountain-bike trek with a chef, hike to the top of a nearby mountain with a sack lunch (including wine, of course) packed for you by a local restaurant, or stroll through Park City’s picturesque downtown on a tasting tour. Tickets for individual events start at $35.
California Wine Festival
July 14 – 16 – Santa Barbara, California
If you like sipping wine while gazing at the surf and feeling the ocean breeze on your face, the California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara is the place to be. From spicy tapas and flamenco dancing to champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries under the stars, there’s something for everyone here. The weekend culminates in the Beachside Wine Festival, where you can listen to live music and sample more than 350 wines from around California. Individual event tickets range from $49 to $140, and festival passes range from $105 to $275.
Vermont Brewers Festival
July 15 – 16 – Burlington, Vermont
Wine is fine, but sometimes there’s nothing better on a sizzling-hot summer day than an ice-cold beer. At the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington, you can sample the offerings of more than 35 Northeastern brewers and enjoy music, food, and beer-and-cheese and beer-and-chocolate pairings. A $30 ticket to one of three four-hour tasting sessions gets you 15 beer tickets and a souvenir glass.
New Orleans Tales of the Cocktail
July 20 – 24 – New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s no better place to enjoy an aperitif than the Big Easy, and Tales of the Cocktail combines drinks, fine food, parties and special events in one of America’s most elegant cities. You won’t want to miss events like the Bar Room Brawl Cocktail Competition or the Waking the Spirits Cemetery Excursion. Tickets to most individual events range from $40 to $65, or you can purchase the Founders Day Package for $599, which includes entrance to several parties and special events as well as tickets to 12 seminars of your choice and a selection of souvenirs.
Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival
July 28 – 31 – Atlantic City, New Jersey
The Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival really is the best of all worlds – it combines food, wine, beer, and gambling. The event, which is hosted by Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort, Showboat, and Bally’s, benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure and features a lineup of celebrity chefs, including Sunny Anderson, Guy Fieri, Robert Irvine, and Pat and Gina Neely. There is a wide variety of tasting events, demonstrations, seminars and parties, including the Cheese Steak Battle, Brews, Blues, and BBQ, and the Gospel Brunch. Tickets to individual events are priced from $35 to $99.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
July 29 – 31 – Gilroy, California
People either love or hate garlic, and for fans of the pungent bulb, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is the ultimate three-day event. More than 100,000 garlic lovers will descend on Gilroy, 30 miles south of San Jose, for cooking demonstrations, music, and food – lots of food. Take a trip down Gourmet Alley to see the astounding Pyro Chefs in action and sample everything garlic – calamari, scampi, sausage sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms, chicken stir-fry, french fries, and garlic bread. Top it all off with a taste of garlic ice cream. Tickets are $17 for adults and $8 for children and seniors, with $2 discounts available with advance purchase online. Food and beverage items are separate, with prices ranging from $2 to $12.
August 1 – 7 – San Francisco, California
San Francisco has always been a trendsetter for gourmet food and wine, and the epicenter for foodies is SF Chefs. This weeklong event in historic Union Square features more than 200 local restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, and distilleries presenting their offerings under the Grand Tasting Tent. There are also classes, demonstrations, and parties at locations around the city. VIP weekend passes are $425, and tickets to individual events are $15 to $150.
The Bite of Oregon
August 12 – 14 – Portland, Oregon
Portland is a leader in sustainable food and green living, and is well-known for gourmet cuisine, craft beers, and amazing Willamette Valley wines. The Bite of Oregon, which benefits Special Olympics Oregon, features more than 100 menu items from local restaurants, food carts, a dessert pavilion, a chef’s table, wine-tasting, microbrews, and live music on four stages. One-day admission is $10, and weekend passes are $15. Admission doesn’t include food and beverages.