You could go outside and touch grass, or go to a wine festival
If you’re reading this I can assume two things. One, you’ve managed to climb out of the 2023 muck [hopefully not battered or too badly beaten], and will soon find yourself basking in the optimistic glow of freshly minted 2024. Congratulations! Let’s raise a glass to a truly vital accomplishment.
My second assumption: you like wine. Or short of that, you at least enjoy reading about wine and/or be wine-curious. So let’s drop the typical New Year’s Resolutions. “More exercise!” may be a noble endeavor, but we’re here to talk about wine.
Really quick, some real talk
As co-founder of RedThumb, some duties in my job description include traveling around the world and tasting wine [I’d like to compare myself to other famous travelers but I think they’ve all been canceled], talking about wine, and learning about different kinds of wine from different kinds of people. When I travel to the states where we have distribution, I’m riding with the reps, learning about them, getting to know the area, and generally aspiring for terroir in my bones via osmosis. Did I mention part of my job is dispensing flowery, long-winded wine jargon?
Want to do that but not in the wine business? Go to a wine festival. Or go to a bunch.
If the phrase “wine fest” conjures visions of croquet whites and summer meadows, it’s time for an update. The volume and variety may surprise you: from a natty-hipsters-in-a-Brooklyn-warehouse feel to a slightly more sterile, stiff-lipped-convention-center scene – what they’ll have in common is that each offers wines you’ve never tasted, so hopefully, you can find some new labels and varietals that will brighten your 2024 tour.
Here’s your 2024 roundup of fest faves from the RedThumb family. If you see me, come say hello. I’ll be gabbing and imbibing and wearing a dark t-shirt [spills happen]. Don’t let my hair intimidate you.
Alright, now the reason why you’re really here: the Wine Festivals list
RAW Wine in Los Angeles, CA – April 28th & 29th
The trend-setting big boy of natural wine festivals, Raw Wine is one fest we try to make every year. They’ve recently hosted events in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Berlin in late 2023; in 2024 they are scheduled for Paris, Tokyo, and Copenhagen. They are bringing the low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, and natural winemakers [who in turn, bring their wine] to Los Angeles on April 28-29. Find your “taste-makers” here [eye roll].
Taste Washington in Seattle, WA – March 16th & 17th
Taste Washington is the largest single-region food and wine festival in the US. All of the 200+ wineries are from Washington. There’s some cool food stuff happening here, too. The “No Frills!” event pairs wines with chefs’ fancyish post-shift snack concoctions. The Seattle event takes place March 16-17.
Savor Idaho in Boise, ID – June 9th
On June 9th, Savor Idaho will be held at the Idaho Botanical Gardens in Boise. Sample from over 30 wineries, and expect some cider [it is, after all, Idaho Wine and Cider Month], food trucks, music, and art exhibitions.
Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade, CO – September 21st
The town of Palisade, CO is home to the Colorado Mountain Winefest – state’s largest wine event – on September 21. This year is the 33rd annual installment, featuring dozens of Colorado wineries, chocolate tastings, live music, chef demonstration, and a grape stomp for those looking for a side of kitsch.
The Wild Bunch in Portland, OR – March 2nd
The Wild Bunch is a natural wine fair held in Portland, OR on March 2. The one-day event offers food, music, and wines from around the world whose producers practice regenerative farming and make organic and biodynamic wines with minimal intervention [aka our jam].
New Orleans Wine and Food Experience in… you guessed it, New Orleans, LA – June 5th – 9th
New Orleans knows how to throw a party, and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is no different. We go every summer because we love pouring wine in our adopted hometown while rubbing shoulders with wine mega-producers [they’re just like us!]. The fest runs June 5-9, but the signature event, the Grand Tasting, is on Saturday the 8th. In addition to dozens of wineries, the experience features cocktail tastings and food from new and established local restaurants, and for some, brunch and burlesque. Sequence and glitter galore.
The Austin Food and Wine Festival in Austin, TX – November dates TBA
The Austin Food and Wine Festival returns in November. It’ll be the 13th anniversary of the 3-day event and, because it’s Texas, grilling and talking to pitmasters is a big part. [Last year they added a pre-fest cookout where festival-goers can cook meals and get pointers from the pros.] And of course, wine tasting sessions. Liquor and beer, too.
Nati Wine Fest in Cincinnati, OH – June dates TBA
The focus of the Nati WineFest is [you guessed it] wine fermented with native yeast, minimal intervention, no additives, etc. Look for the Cincinnati event in June.
WineFest in Louisville, KY – April 30th
Get your big hat. The biggest thing happening in Louisville is the Kentucky Derby, but there are more than 70 events leading up to the race itself. One of them is WineFest, held on April 30 (4 days before the Derby). Take a little break from bourbon and taste wine, all from Kentucky. Surprisingly, KY isn’t a one-trick pony.
Indiana Wine Fair in Nashville, Indiana – May 4th
From there, if you’re not interested in horses and want more wine, take the 75-minute drive north to Nashville, Indiana and hit up the Indiana Wine Fair on May 4. This fest also serves tastings from local-only wineries from Indiana, but according to their website, they will not provide bail money, so adjust accordingly.
Don’t see a festival in your state? Reach out to us and we’ll give you a separate, personal recommendation.