Winter is a wonderful time to attend a wine festival. The crowds tend to be smaller than those at fall or summer festivals, which means you’ll have a chance to get to know the winemakers.
Here are five festivals to consider.
Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival, Okanagan Valley, B.C.
The Vibe: Skiing during the day and wine-drinking at night—this festival, held every year at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops, blends these two beloved pastimes pefectly.
The Lineup: Highlights include the first-ever Sun Peaks Wine Crawl—value-priced wines, snacks and tunes—and the Sun Peaks Progressive Tasting on Jan. 22, featuring wines from 30 wineries.
Tip: During the festival, various Sun Peaks restaurants, including Voyageur Bistro and Mantles Restaurant, will feature special menus paired with local wines. Reservations are recommended.
Niagara Icewine Festival, Niagara wine region, Ont.
January 15-17, 22-24, 29-31
The Vibe: Celebratory and welcoming, with festive events and endless outdoor activities, plus three weekends of parties at 40 wineries throughout the region.
The Lineup: The fun kicks off with a gala on Jan. 15, followed by a winemakers-versus-media hockey game, an icewine cocktail competition, a comedy night and indoor and outdoor parties.
Tip: There are lots of wineries in the area to choose from, so consider getting a Discovery Pass ($40) and pick and choose eight events, depending on the days you’ll be around.
Winter Wineland, Northern Sonoma County, Calif.
The Vibe: Festive and fun. Every winery in the region (there are more than 100) will take part in the 24th annual Winter Wineland festival, with special events including meeting winemakers, food pairings, and tasting limited-production and newly released wines.
The Lineup: New this year, Breakfast with a Winemaker, a relaxed Q&A session in an intimate setting, promises to be a hit. Plus, a tailgate party, s’more roasting and live entertainment.
Tip: Many wineries offer deals on shipping, so you don’t have to schlep your purchases around all weekend.
Naples Winter Wine Festival, Naples, Fla.
The Vibe: Featuring mega-watt vintners and rock-star chefs, this annual event also happens to be a major fundraiser for the Naples Children & Education Foundation.
The Lineup: Plenty of tastings, dinners and fun for serious (and well-heeled) collectors. This year’s roster includes legendary wine expert Steven Spurrier and celebrity chef Rick Tramonto, as well as tastings from the likes of Krug Champagne, Opus One and Peter Michael Winery.
Tip: Bring your cash for the auction; previous items have included a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe.
Nova Scotia Icewine Festival, Throughout N.S.
February 28-28, March 4-6
The Vibe: Laid-back and casual, the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival is spread over two weekends, offering a wonderful opportunity to try Maritime interpretations of Canada’s famous icewine.
The Lineup: Go snowshoeing with winemakers, make a grapevine wreath, warm yourself around a bonfire, eat raclette and, of course, drink some wonderful East Coast icewine.
Tip: The weather at this time of year in Nova Scotia is famously unpredictable (you may recall last year’s “Snowmageddon”), so dress extra warm and be prepared for anything.
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