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The 2016 U.S. food and wine festival calendar

Coast to coast, and beyond, there is a food and wine festival for every discerning eater and drinker in America

Photograph: Courtesy Charleston Wine + Food/Andrew Cebulka

There is a food and wine festival in nearly every nook and cranny of the country these days—celebrations of great eating and drinking where you can conceivably pair one of the best burgers in America with the some of the country’s, and the world’s, top drops. But not all food and wine festivals are created equal. Some are special, standing out for their stunning locales (drinks on the beach in Maui, anyone?), their huge selections of eats and vineyards, or for giving you the feel that you’re in one of the best wine bars in America, even as you stand in an open field among thousands. We’ve put the best together in this 2016 food and wine festival calendar so that you can choose one (or ten) to hit throughout the year. And if you’re feeling particularly thirsty, we have a beer festival calendar, too. Cheers! Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter

2016 food and wine festival calendar

1
South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Miami, FL

South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Miami, FL

Food Network groupies join Food and Wine subscribers in flocking to Florida’s hippest beach for four sun-soaked days of wine, spirits, music and celebrity-backed food experiences. Events include brunches, dinners, seminars, and tastings; those on a budget can choose from the $100-and-under-series, like YogArt and bellinis for $35. One of the hottest wine-focused tickets to snag, however, is Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best at the Fountainebleu Hotel. For $350, sample one hundred 90-plus point wines paired with dishes from sixty of the country’s notable chefs. Feb 24-28

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/August Burrichter

2
Zinfandel Experience, San Francisco, CA

Zinfandel Experience, San Francisco, CA

Though Napa and Sonoma are just a hop, skip and a jump from San Francisco proper, Zinfandel Experience brings the character of this unique varietal straight to the doorsteps of San Fran denizens (more accurately, Pier 27). A celebration of all things Zin, the three-day festival is now in it’s 25th year—which calls for a party, of course. Revelers with a thirst for the sweet grape can buy tickets to the 25 Year Tribute Party featuring 60 wineries, culinary delights and raucous toasts. Tickets for Friday’s Flights and Winemaker’s Reception, Dinner and Auction are already sold out, but you can still snag tickets to the fest’s centerpiece: the Grand Tasting on Saturday, where attendees explore the intricacies of Zinfandel blends, learn about distinct growing regions straight from the winemakers themselves, and taste new releases. Feb 25-27

3
Charleston Wine + Food Fest, Charleston, SC

Charleston Wine + Food Fest, Charleston, SC

Set within the graceful coastal city of Charleston and tinged with southern charm, the Wine + Food Fest returns for its 11th year. With over 100 events in five days, ticketholders will access an array of food, wine, suds and booze. Sample the culinary prowess of resident chefs turning out haute spins on seafood and pork dishes. Taste from a strong cadre of Cali winemakers, like Forlorn Hope, Massican, Darioush, Red Car Winery and Clendenen Family. Relax in the rosé garden with Provençal wine specialist Château D’esclans, or score a seat at a Champagne Krug event. From neophyte to connoisseur, there’s something for everyone. Mar 2-6

Photograph: Andrew Cebulka

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4
Flavor!, Napa Valley, CA

Flavor!, Napa Valley, CA

Signaling the end of Cabernet season, Flavor! embraces the very best of idyllic Napa Valley with five days of farm-to-table cuisine, exemplary wines, demos, workshops and more. Take to the streets with First Taste Napa, a downtown street market, then drink your way through the next few days with a regional wine tour, elaborately themed dinners, tastings and trend talks—and enough celebrity chef cameos to cast a season of Top Chef. Mar 16-20

Photograph: Bob McClenahan

5
Pebble Beach Food and Wine, Pebble Beach, CA

Pebble Beach Food and Wine, Pebble Beach, CA

250 wineries. 100 celebrity chefs. Presented by Food & Wine, this four-day blowout is a curated smorgasbord of culinary and wine talent on the Central Coast. Grand cru Burgundies, prestige cuvee champagnes, super Tuscans—there’s something here for both the casual attendee dipping their toe into the wine world or the fully immersed connoisseur. Sit in on seminars featuring speakers waxing poet about rosé and champagne, or taste your way through a catalogue of varietals from Burgandy’s Domaine Leflaive. The Grand Tasting on both Saturday and Sunday brings everyone together in an indulgent night of sampling the weekend’s biggest names in both food and wine. Mar 31-Apr 3

Photograph: Patrick Tregenza

6
Taste Washington, Seattle, WA

Taste Washington, Seattle, WA

Critics’ choice

The four-day Pacific Northwestern culinary experience that is Taste Washington gathers award-winning wines from far-flung corners of the state into the accessible city of Seattle. In fact, Taste is the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event showcasing over 225 wineries and 65 regional restaurants. Unlike festivals dominated by thrice-removed representatives pouring corporate brands, Taste connects wine lovers directly to small, up-and-coming producers (and large, well-known ones), whether at the grand tasting or during intimate dinners held around town. Mar 31-Apr 3

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7
Virginia Wine Summit, Middleburg, VA

Virginia Wine Summit, Middleburg, VA

Unbeknownst to outsiders, Virginians adore wine festivals. From Epicurience to the Wine Expo, if they miss one, there’s another marked on the calendar. However, the Virginia Wine Summit, billed as the state’s premier event, organizes the broadest collection of producers, sommeliers, winemakers, restaurateurs, chefs and journalists. Translation: they’ve got every angle of the industry covered. This year, the luxurious hunt-country property Salamander Resort and Spa will host oenophiles and keynote speaker Jon Bonne for seminars, panels and a grand luncheon. After all, Virginia is for (wine) lovers. Apr 5

8
Austin Wine and Food Festival, Austin, TX

Austin Wine and Food Festival, Austin, TX

Texas is one of the leading producers of wine grapes in the United States, and Hill Country is the star in the state’s vinous firmament. Thus, Austin serves as a fitting site for a three-day bonanza of grilled meats, tacos, music and drink, hosted largely outdoors beneath the Lone Star sun (in a tent, of course). Expect to taste local grapes alongside hearty reds from Paso Robles and Navarra, all of which pair well with regional BBQ and brisket dishes. And if you’ve never seen a gospel brunch at a wine festival before, Austin provides the chance. Apr 22-24

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Elise Johnson

9
Vegas Uncork’d, Las Vegas, NV

Vegas Uncork’d, Las Vegas, NV

Splash out in Sin City with an over-the-top festival devoted to the pleasures of the grape. Hitting its tenth year, organizers, helped by Bon Appétit, promise a bigger, brasher, bolder four-day affair in late April. As testament to the promise of excess, the Grand Tasting will curl around the outdoor Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesar’s Palace. Expect one-of-a-kind experiences (and prices) with renowned chefs, master sommeliers, and acclaimed mixologists. Apr 28-May 1

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10
Nantucket Wine Festival, Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Wine Festival, Nantucket, MA

Critics’ choice

There are wine festivals inclusive of the masses, and others that cater to the elite. The quaint New England isle of Nantucket’s mid-May bash tips decidedly towards latter, but for those who can afford to go (the cost of lodging and airfare precludes many), the experience is exceptional. A blue-blood-befitting roster includes a Champagne Henri Giraud tasting, white Bordeaux with oysters, and a seminar led by NY Times critic Eric Asimov exploring the wines of the late Burgundian Anne-Claude Leflaive. High-caliber wineries and Masters of Wine-level seminars make Nantucket the aspirational event of the year. May 18-22

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Comments

2 comments
Jessica R
Jessica R

What a fantastic list! Can't wait to plan my travel to eat and drink my way through it all.