Niagara, Travels, Wine

How to Have an Awesome Wine Festival

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Wine and Spirit Festival in Toronto. It was a great time! The crowds weren’t too big, the vendors all had lots of product for us to enjoy, and there was event a grocery store there giving out free snacks. It also made me wonder if these kinds of events are intimidating or a bit of a mystery to people who’ve never gone to one.

I’m a festival veteran at this point, well versed in the art of getting what you came for and having a great time in the process. Here are my tips for navigating a wine (or beer or food or whatever) festival.


But first, can we talk about how I got my very own MEDIA PASS?? Thanks so much to Drink Ink for hooking this wine lover up.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Many festivals are outdoor events that run rain or shine. Make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast, dress accordingly, and think about your personal deal-breakers that might prevent you from going. Soaring or plummeting temperatures? Rain? Hail? Snow? Know which you’re cool with and which you aren’t. Your future self with thank your preparation.

Case in point – the day I went to the Wine and Spirit Festival was humid, sticky and came with heat, thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Yikes! You’d better believe I spent some quality time with the weather forecast to time when (or even if) I could head to the festival.


Make a Game Plan

In my experience, the key to having a great time is to know what you want to get out of the festival. For me, obviously, it was the wine. Beyond that it’s good to recognize that we only have so much time, energy and money, so thinking about things ahead of time can help ensure you have a satisfying experience. But maybe that’s just the planner in me talking?

I also knew that attending with a friend would make the experience infinitely more enjoyable, so I’m very happy I was able to convince my friends Jasmine and Steve to come along. We only had a few hours to spend at the festival, and knew I was going to write about it, so I focused on the wines to be found. Luckily there were some great wine vendors set up.

Creekside Estate Winery was there (of recent Palate Practice post fame) as was Sue Ann Staff Winery pouring a red blend, which made a nice change from the Riesling I know them for. There was also a whole booth devoted to Greek wines. I had a great time nerding out with the Greek wine rep about tannins and acidity and fruit and how wonderful yet unknown Greek wines are outside their home country.



Greek wines, yum!


Unless you’re cool with blind spending it’s a good idea to go to the festival’s website and educate yourself on how much things might cost. If it’s an annual event there’s a good chance it’s been reviewed on Yelp, and there’s nothing people love more than sharing the minutiae of their experiences on an online reviewing website (not really my thing, but hey – you do you). Plan out how much you can/want to spend and attend accordingly. And if you really want to work without a net, bring cash and leave your cards at home. Hardcore!

What was my cash plan? I brought my cards but spent only cash I’d taken out a few days before. This all seemed like a great plan until I re-stocked on tickets without realizing how close I was to the time I needed to leave by. Thankfully Steve and Jasmine were happy to relieve me of my tickets in order to help themselves to a cocktail SERVED IN A COCONUT. If that doesn’t spell festival success I don’t know what does.


Take me to wine school!

Remember to Eat

I know, it’s not very glamourous to bring up, but we are talking about the consumption of alcohol here, and in some cases at higher-than-normal levels. Remember to take a break from all that enjoying and imbibing to fill that belly up so you don’t become that person at the party, you know?

Seriously, don’t be this guy.

Those are my quick and dirty tips for a successful festival experience.


Have more questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll answer them!

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