Wine enthusiasts, vino aficionados, and glass guzzling winos came out in droves to the annual Decatur Wine Festival on Saturday, November 5th. For three hours, the Decatur Square (downtown Decatur) was filled with a wide variety of wine from different regions that was provided by several distributors and local vendors provided decadent food nibbles to festival goers gastro delights – a celebration that would have made Dionysus, the Greek god of grape harvest, wine making, and wine, very proud (minus the orgies and debauchery)! (Dionysus was also called Bacchus by the ancient Romans – just in case you didn’t recognize his Greek name.) The sold out event boasted right around 2,200 people in attendance. (That’s a lot of people to fit in Decatur Square!) Upon entering the grape decorated gates of the venue area, patrons were given a commemorative 2011 Decatur Wine Festival glass souvenir, which doubled as their wine tasting glass. The Gwen Hughes Band and The Shadowboxers provided the afternoon’s entertainment, as the masses were off to get their wine on!
The Decatur Wine Festival gave each participant a nice sized 21-page pamphlet which included a map, wine merchant table numbers, and a list of each wine that was available for tasting, along with a star notation for “must try” wines at each table. The pamphlet was a really smart touch because (if you brought your own pen or pencil) you could make notes alongside the table or wine of your choice and/or included added notation in the back few pages. Being a novice wine drinker – or rather, wine appreciator – I included notes about what region the wine was from, possible food pairings, smiley or sad faces, and other helpful notations, such as, “Meh” or “Mmm…dessert!” I think my notes eventually reflected the level of enjoyment that the effects of tasting a whole bunch of wine can have on one’ s spirit. Next time, with a little proper pre-planning (by checking out the wine list online), I will be able to navigate towards wine tables of my personal preference first without having to accidentally miss a tasting that I’m curious about because I ran out of time.
Throughout the square, restaurants were offering small tastes of food to help keep people level headed and on their best wine game. Restaurants included: Bhojanic Restaurant & Catering, Carpe Diem, Costco, Feast Restaurant, Green Ginger, Harbour Bar & Fish House, The Iberian Pig Kitchen & Bar, Leon’s Full Service, The Marlay House, New Orleans SnoBall Café, Parker’s On Ponce, Pine Street Market, Sweet N’ Sinful, and Zucca Bar & Pizzeria. Be warned – you should eat lunch before you go to the wine fest because a couple vendors ran out of their popular, delectable bites of goodness halfway through the festival.
There were also quite a few booths of wine art, jewelry designers, food reviewers, and others for local services or merchants.
During the first half of the wine festival, I was surrounded by vino aficionados, who discussed the different wine distributors, vineyards, local and out of state wine events, and bottle price points. At this time, I was quite aware of how little wine knowledge I possessed, so I had to rely heavily upon telling my favorite story about the time I tried a jalapeno white wine years ago at the Virginia Wine Festival, but mostly, I just listened to them talk about their experiences. And, by the way, yes, a jalapeno (infused) chardonnay!
The second half of the wine festival, I had somehow meandered into the party wino crowd – a girl wearing a tiara who was celebrating her 30th birthday; a crew of 20-somethings in fire fighter hats; a group I can only call “Team Wino!” because they hand decorated white shirts with wine stains (or something that looked like wine) and written nicknames and/or numbers on the back of their shirts; and a young lady who suggested that if I was single, then I should take chicken to the fire station to meet a good fireman (I asked the onsite firemen and women about this and they confirmed her story!).
As the event was wrapping to a close and the empty wine bottles began huddling around the trash cans, the festival organizers held a drawing for huge prize bottles of wine. There were several other prizes raffled off as well. As luck would have it, I finally ran into my favorite wine connoisseur, educator, and organizer of the Atlanta Wine Meetup, Katt Martin. She’s so passionate about wine that she started her own wine event venue, Wine Xplorer (coming to Sandy Springs/Dunwoody in 2012!), with sommelier type hosts that will offer wine tastings and educational classes with a social club atmosphere. Katt and her friend, Debbie Jones, both raved over a table of South African wines that I was unfortunately unable to try during the event. Debbie is a Senior Wine Consultant for Grape Crush Productions, which means that both these ladies obviously know their wine! Unfortunately, due to the large number of attendees, I was not able to meet them earlier in the day and then after you get in a wine or food line, you are 100% committed to seeing your choice through until you get to the table. (If you go, try to meet your friends at a local restaurant or somewhere outside the venue before the event starts.)
One of my favorite sayings overheard from a female attendee was that she had attended both the beer and wine festivals and liked the wine festival better. One of the reasons why was because the bathroom lines are much shorter at the wine festival than the beer festival.
This was also the 10th anniversary of metro Atlanta’s largest outdoor wine festival, the annual Decatur Wine Festival. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Decatur Arts Alliance, which hosts the Decatur Arts Festival and many other free art events to the community each year. Thanks, Decatur Wine Festival for hosting a great event and introducing me to the girly goodness that is bubbly pink moscato!
Decatur Wine Festival