Spring is just weeks away. Before you know it, the birds will be chirping, bulbs will be blooming and hopefully you’ll be sipping wine and tasting gourmet cuisine from renowned vintners and chefs. The warmer weather brings a host of food and wine festivals that will help shake those winter blues. Here are some of the best, so get planning.
1. The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival
March 6th-9th, 2014
Kicking off this weekend, this is a celebration of Charleston’s culinary excellence and culture. World renowned chefs, authors, beverage professionals and purveyors come to join in the Low Country fun. Notable names this year include author and journalist John Mariani, Bon Appétit editor Andrew Knowlton, chefs John Currence, Michelle Weaver and Steven Satterfield and winemaker Steve Matthiasson. Event highlights include vintner dinners for the latest on food and wine pairing and an array of festive cocktail dinners for spirits fans.
2. The 12th Annual Boca Bacchanal
March 28th-30th, 2014
The Boca Bacchanal is a three-day extravaganza of food and wine that kicks off with an intimate dinner held in beautiful private residences in Boca Raton, Fla. Featured chefs include Matthias Merges (Yusho, Chicago), Daniel Zeal (The Cloister, Sea Island, Ga.) and Ian Schnoebelen (Mariza, New Orleans). Top vintners include Darioush (Napa, Calif), Champagne Piper-Heidsieck (Reims, France) and Cakebread Cellars (Napa, Calif.). The Bacchanal includes a selection of food stations and culinary presentations, a meet and greet with chefs and vintners, and a silent and live auction featuring food, wine, travel and lifestyle lots. It wraps up Sunday with the Grand Tasting, a delightful alfresco experience featuring “by the bite” specialties from over 30 local chefs and restaurants and some 140 wines.
3. The 7th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine
April 10th-13th, 2014
This star-studded event, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, is the premier epicurean event of the West Coast. A total of 250 acclaimed wineries and 75 celebrity chefs come together for this four-day party on one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world. World renowned chefs, sommeliers and vintners include James Beard award-winning chefs Thomas Keller, Ming Tsai and Jacques Pepin. An invitation-only founders’ dinner kicks off the festival on Wednesday, followed by events such as the “Secrets of the Sommelier” blind tasting seminar and a special tribute dinner to Chef Charlie Trotter, who died last year. Of course there’s a celebrity chef and winemaker golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links that will run you $1,000 per person. It is Pebble Beach after all.
4. The 3rd Annual Austin Food & Wine Festival
April 25th – 27th, 2014
Get prepped for tastings, libations, hands-on grilling demos, and more from the world’s rising cultural and culinary city. The Austin Food & Wine Festival, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, returns for its third year with top chef talent, sommeliers and winemakers. Notable names at this year’s festival include TV personality Andrew Zimmern, Bravo’s “Top Chef” Master Rick Bayless and author and wine expert Mark Oldman.
5. The 8th Annual Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit
May 8th – 11th, 2014
This Sin City soirée, presented by Bon Appétit, is back for its eighth year with dozens of one-of-a-kind events. From its popular Master Series to intimate demonstrations and lively after-parties, there’s a lot to take in. The star-studded schedule includes chefs Thomas Keller, Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentiis and Mario Batali and more. Master Sommeliers include Larry Stone and Jason Smith. Vegas Uncork’d offers guests the chance to taste great food, but also to rub elbows with A-lister in the culinary world.
6. The 4th Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
May 29th – June 1st, 2014
The brainchild of Atlanta entrepreneurial duo Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love, this festival is an experience designed for those seeking to sip, savor and learn about the rich food and beverage traditions of the South. More than 100 cooking and cocktail demonstrations, technique labs, food and beverage tasting seminars and panel discussions are on this year’s agenda. Guests can also opt for the “Connoisseur Experience” offering special access to the Connoisseur Lounge designed by William Peace, which features wines from Broadbent Selections --sponsor of this program. Festival proceeds benefit the AFWF Foundation which provides grants to nonprofit organizations working to preserve Southern culture.
Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique. She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.