Best wine festivals to visit in 2020

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With a growing audience of wine lovers, wine festivals are big business these days. Almost every wine region hosts its own celebration. Often they are combined with food to create a grand gastronomic experience. Others, such as the annual Marciac jazz festival in France, combine wine with music.

Some are inspired by a single grape variety. Pinot Noir seems to be the most popular, with big Pinot celebrations in Oregon, Alsace and the Hemel-en-Aarde region of South Africa. Riesling also gets some attention, with the Riesling Rendezvous being held in Seattle every third year (2019’s event was postponed to 2020).

Not all wine events are huge. The annual (or near-annual) Fête du Vin in the tiny hamlet of Chassignolles in Auvergne only has about 10 stands manned by producers who appear on the local auberge’s wine list, but is an unmissable weekend of convivial feasting.
Some are quirky, like the Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival (motto ‘Eat, Drink, Stink’), or the Barrels & Beards festival in Bot River, South Africa, which sees winemakers from the region competing to grow the most luxuriant beard during harvest. In Catalonia there is a phylloxera festival, Festa de la Fil·loxera, where attendees come dressed as bugs.

But the rarest, most spectacular wine festival is in Vevey, Switzerland. The Fête des Vignerons takes place there once every 20 years, despite – or maybe because of – its huge popularity. More than 400,000 people attend, enjoying a lavish opening ceremony and wine- related performances alongside tastings.

Sadly, the most recent Fête took place last year, which means you’ll have to wait until 2039 for the next. In the meantime, a trip to one of the following wine festivals can satisfy your urge to celebrate…

Best wine festivals 2020


Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration

One of a number of world-class Pinot festivals (others include Hemel-en-Aarde and the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon), this takes place in the dramatically beautiful setting of Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. There are tastings and masterclasses, one of which you arrive at via ‘gondola’ – a steep cable car ride that gives stunning views over Lake Wakatipu. There are also opportunities to visit wineries, including the adopted Aussie tradition of the ‘long lunch’.

See also: Central Otago for wine lovers

Niagara Icewine Festival

Billed as ‘Canada’s coolest wine festival’, this two-week-long celebration focuses on the region’s famous ice wines. The high point is the annual Icewine Gala dinner, which celebrates 25 years in 2020, but you can buy a ‘discovery pass’ and enjoy sweet and savoury food and wine pairings at participating wineries for the duration of the event.


Vancouver International Wine Festival

With more than 25,000 admissions, the Vancouver International Wine Festival is not only Canada’s biggest wine event but the largest in the Americas, according to its organisers. Now in its 42nd year, it highlights wines from outside Canada; the focus for 2020 will be on France. The main event is the International Festival Tasting, but there’s also a big dinner and auction called the Bacchanalia Gala, as well as winery dinners and a Vintners Brunch. Many of the city’s top restaurants also put on their own tastings.

See also: Top restaurants and wine bars in Vancouver


Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau

If you fancy some tropical heat with your wine, head to Mauritius for the annual Festival Culinaire, named after late French chef Bernard Loiseau. It features an impressive line-up of visiting chefs, as well as tastings, food and wine pairing sessions, masterclasses and wine dinners. Constance, the hotel group that hosts the festivities, also has some pretty impressive cellars in its estate – it holds another wine event in the autumn at the Constance Prince Maurice called La Paulée.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

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