#WineDownWednesday: Best Food & Wine Festivals of the Year

by Robin Barr Sussman on April 24, 2019 in Food, Drink,

Calling all foodies and wine lovers: For epicurean eats and the finest imbibing, the cream of the crop food and wine festivals in the U.S. deliver with cooking demos, eclectic food and wine pairings, gourmet dinners and celebrity chef cred.

Whether you’re seeking a breathtaking view of the ocean, vineyards or snow-capped mountains, these venues are beautiful spots to visit and most events donate profits to charity. Getting thirsty? Time to plan your next travel adventure!

AUSTIN FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
April 26-28, Texas

Sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine, this culinary extravaganza offers live music, celebrated chefs, beer, wine and spirits, endless tastings, hands–on grilling classes, a BBQ live-fire demo, and even a gourmet taco competition. Food Network stars Aaron Sanchez, Antonia Lofaso, and Andrew Zimmern grace the fest along with many other national and regional culinary and wine luminaries including Austin’s favorite sommelier June Rodil. (Editor’s note: Win for Houston, as Rodil soon relocates to the Bayou City.)

The Austin Food & Wine Festival includes a BBQ live-fire demo, and even a gourmet taco competition.
Photo Charles Reagan Hackleman

Where to stay: Save up for a splurge at the recently renovated Four Seasons Hotel, a celebrity haunt and hub for Austin’s bold-faced names. The new lobby is stunning, with a nature-inspired design and the spa and guest rooms have also been renovated. The Lobby Lounge is now Guadalajara-inspired Live Oak and Ciclo is the newly rebranded restaurant.

ASPEN FOOD & WINE CLASSIC
June 14-16, Colorado

America’s most exclusive food festival brings promises of caviar, Champagne and the Instagram-famous. About 5,000 foodies descend upon this picturesque mountain town filled with lavish wine tastings, parties and top epicurean fare. Education combined with fun is the goal, with dozens of wine seminars led by the country’s experts including Kevin Zraly and master sommelier David Keck (Houston) and cooking classes featuring celebrities like Martha Stewart, Food Network’s Gail Simmons, Jacques Pepin and more. Various locations in Aspen.

Where to Stay: Hotel Jerome is an Auberge Resort unrivaled for its elegant atmosphere, guest services and downtown location. It’s just steps away from galleries, world-famous boutiques, nightlife, restaurants and Aspen Mountain.

TASTE OF SONOMA
August 31, Rohnert Park, California

At this annual wine event of the year in northern California, wineries from across Sonoma County pour hundreds of wines, top chefs and restaurants prepare their best bites for pairing, and seminar experiences cover topics from terroir to wine and food pairing tips. Wine Talks tackle subjects including Sonoma County Sparklers, Diverse Zinfandel and more specific to this world-class wine growing region.

Where to Stay: Vintner’s Inn, Santa Rosa is a charming and intimate inn with generous guest rooms, balcony patios, two restaurants, a full kitchen garden and new spa, Vi La Vita. Your getaway!

At Sonoma County Wine Auction weekend, expect an unforgettable weekend of distinct and diverse local wines, delectable tastings, vintner dinners, parties and unmatched generosity. Photo Michael Woolsey

SONOMA COUNTY WINE AUCTION WEEKEND 
September 19-21, Healdsburg, California

Expect an unforgettable weekend of distinct and diverse local wines, delectable tastings, vintner dinners, parties and unmatched generosity. This wine auction historically raises more charitable funds than any in the region. The weekend culminates in the auction, which offers guests a chance to bid on a curated collection of lots from rare wines to once-in-a-lifetime trips. It’s a fantastic party with an afternoon of food and wine sampling on the beautiful grounds of La Crema winery.

Where to Stay: Harmon House is the newest—and coolest—boutique hotel in Healdsburg with environmentally sustainable building elements by the Hotel Healdsburg and h2hotel family. For a splurge, book a room in the intimate European-style boutique Hotel Les Mars.

Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival is filled with VIP events. Guests can rub elbows with James Beard award-winning chefs and Food Network stars. Courtesy photo

NEWPORT BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
October 3-6, California

One of Southern California’s most highly acclaimed wine and food events returns with a weekend filled with VIP events ranging from private chef dinners in coastal estates to sunset yacht parties (what other festival offers yacht parties?) and intimate wine tastings. Guests can rub elbows with James Beard award-winning chefs and Food Network stars like Duff Goldman, Nobu Matsuhisa and Hubert Keller. The Grand Tasting—featuring endless bites and generous pours from over 40 Orange County top restaurants and wineries, celebrity chef cooking demos, live music, and more—is the festival’s main event.

Where to Stay: Lido House is a newcomer and a breath of fresh air with a modern-beachy design and Newport Beach’s only rooftop bar. (Sprawling and chic!)

SANTA FE WINE AND CHILE FESTIVAL
September 22-29, New Mexico

Sizzle, spice, spirits! This annual fiesta pairs chef-driven chile-based fare with the best wines while raising money for charity. More than 3,500 gastronomes flock local restaurants and wineries all over this tourist-magnet destination for a taste of Santa Fe’s unique cuisine.

Where to stay: The award winning El Dorado Hotel is a Santa Fe favorite with breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and historic Santa Fe Plaza. Enjoy the lavish Nidah Spa, on-site restaurant and new rooftop pool.

The Hawaiian Food & Wine Festival takes place over several weekends on multiple islands. Photo Travis Okimoto

HAWAII FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
October 5-27, Honolulu

Set in the lush island paradise of Hawaii, this annual festival takes place over several weekends on multiple islands featuring a roster of internationally-known master chefs, culinary personalities and wine and spirits producers.

Where to Stay: The award-winning Kahala Hotel & Resort, a luxury property on the island of Oahu, is on the white beach overlooking the ocean with world-class dining, a spa and every imaginable amenity.

ROSEMARY BEACH UNCORKED,
November 2, Florida

Eat. Drink. Be Rosemary—the tagline says it all. This annual wine and culinary fest spotlighting its pristine beach town is a great excuse for a trip. At this intimate event, leisurely stroll the sunny cobblestone streets lined with stunning St. Augustine-meets-West Indies-style architecture while tasting the very best of food and wine Rosemary Beach has to offer. Anticipate featured restaurants, global wine tastings galore and a rockin’ band to soar you through an afternoon of fun. We bet you’ll be back.

Where to Stay: The Pearl has all the perks–chic poolside cabanas, a gorgeous Gulf ocean view, a lively indoor bar and restaurant plus an amazing rooftop patio bar.


Cover: Aspen Food & Wine Classic, courtesy photo

Robin Barr Sussman is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone California. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.