Any given week or weekend, there are what seem like countless wine, beer and spirits festivals taking place across the country. The following is just a smattering (by no means complete) of some of the best local, regional and national beverage festivals, conferences and trade shows in the U.S., including a few notable international events. Whether you’re interested in attending seminars, tasting, networking, expanding your skill set, making business connections or simply having a great time, there’s something for absolutely everyone in 2015.
9 – Mar 27: The Boston Wine Festival – “The nation’s longest running wine and food festival.” – Boston, MA
23 – 24: Winter Brew Fest 2015 – The Brew Fest series also includes the San Diego Winter Brew Fest (San Diego, CA), as well as Summer (Denver, CO) and Fall (Raleigh, NC) Brew Fests. – Denver, CO
23 – 25: The 13th Annual St. Louis Food & Wine Experience – St. Louis, MO
24: Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival – St. Paul, MN
27 – 29: Unified Wine & Grape Symposium – “The largest wine and grape industry trade show in North America.” – Sacramento, CA
29 – 31: Zinfandel Experience – “Zinfandel is a rising star. Reach out and grab it.” – San Francisco, CA
31: International Great Beer Expo – “The biggest names in international brewing will unite in cities throughout the Northeast” including Philadelphia, PA on May 30 and Long Island, NY on November 7. – Secaucus, NJ
6 – 8: Coffee Fest Atlanta 2015 – The first Coffee Fest in an annual series that continues June 5-7 in Chicago, IL and Oct 23-25 in Portland, OR. – Atlanta, GA
7: Cider Summit Chicago – The Cider Summit series also includes events in San Francisco (Apr 25), Portland and Seattle. – Chicago, IL
19 – 22: United States Coffee Championships – Including the U.S. Brewer’s Cup, U.S. Barista Championship, and U.S. Latte Art Championship. – Long Beach, CA
20 – Mar 1: Vancouver International Wine Festival – Canada’s premier wine show “will showcase 170 wineries from 14 countries…pouring 1750+ wines at 53 events to a projected 25,000 admissions.” – Vancouver, Canada
22: The Seattle Wine & Food Experience – Seattle, WA
24 – 25: Oregon Wine Symposium – “The premier educational event and trade show for the Northwest wine community.” – Portland, OR
25: Whisky Live USA – The world’s premier whisky tasting show, with New York being one of nineteen Whisky Live events around the world. – New York, NY
1 – 2: Berlin International Spirits Competition – “The Berlin International Spirits Competition is the first major international spirits competition with trade only judges.” – Berlin, Germany
4 – 8: Charleston Wine + Food – Charleston, SC
10 – 12: Midwest Grape & Wine + Craft Brew Conference & Trade Show – St. Charles, MO
13 – 15: Women of the Vine Global Symposium – True Fabrications’ Kyla Welsh will participate in this inaugural symposium as a featured panelist. – Napa, CA
15 – 17: ProWein International Trade Fair Wines & Spirits –Moving to new halls in 2015 to provide exhibitors with more space for innovation. – Dusseldorf, Germany
17 – 19: Eastern Winery Exposition – The True team will be in attendance along with Eastern U.S. and Canadian wine industry professionals. – Syracuse, NY
20 – 21: Extreme Beer Fest – “The ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity.” – Boston, MA
21: Pinot Days – The largest gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world (continued in San Francisco on June 20 and Los Angeles on November 14). – Chicago, IL
21 – 22: 10th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival – New York, NY
22 – 25: Vinitaly International – Verona, Italy
26 – 29: Taste Washington – “The nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.” – Seattle, WA
28: Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival – St. Paul, MN
28: Whiskies of the World Expo – San Francisco, CA
30 – April 2: American Distilling Institute Annual Spirits Conference & Vendor Expo – Louisville, KY
31 – Apr 1: Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show – Las Vegas, NV
9 – 12: The Specialty Coffee Association of America Event – In its twenty-seventh year, the SCAA’s annual conference is so ubiquitous that it is known only as “The Event.” – Seattle, WA
10: WhiskeyFest Chicago – “The longest-running and best-attended whisky festival in the U.S. [with] a selection of more than 300 whiskies from around the world.” Continued in New York, NY (Sept 24) and San Francisco, CA (Oct 30). – Chicago, IL
12 – 15: Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America 72nd Annual Convention & Exposition – Orlando, FL
14 – 17: Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America – The True team will be in attendance along with over 10,000 brewing industry professionals. – Portland, OR
17 – 18: California Wine Festival – Orange County – The 2015 California Wine Festival is also continued in Santa Barbara, CA on July 16-18. – Dana Point, CA
17 – 19: Miami Rum Renaissance Festival – “The world’s largest gathering of rum producers, experts and enthusiasts.” – Miami, FL
6 – 8: Craft Beverage Expo – Santa Clara, CA
8: Harrisburg Wine Festival – One of the keystone events of Pennsylvania Wine Week, celebrated statewide. – Harrisburg, PA
8 – 9: WhiskeyTown USA – In its third year of exploding popularity, what was originally Whiskey Fest Northwest has been rebranded as WhiskeyTown USA and will continue opening its doors to an ever further-reaching audience. – Portland, OR
15 – 19: The Manhattan Cocktail Classic – New York, NY
17 – 18: BAR 15 – Formerly The International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event. – Chicago, IL
20 – 23: New Orleans Wine & Food Experience – The twenty-second iteration of one of the culinary city’s best events. – New Orleans, LA
6: 21st Annual Mountain Brewers Beer Fest – Idaho Falls, ID
14: Savor Idaho 2015 – Boise, ID
14 – 18: Vinexpo 2015 – For the first time ever, the massive international conference and exhibition will highlight a “special guest” country – this year, the U.S., “because it is the number one consumer market for wines in the world.” – Bordeaux, France
15 – 19: American Society for Enology & Viticulture National Conference – The 66th annual ASEV National Conference. – Portland, OR
18 – 20: Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine – Incorporating Walla Walla and international winemakers alike, each year focuses on a different varietal, 2015’s being merlot. – Walla Walla, WA
19 – 20: International Beer Fest – Brings 350 beers from over 100 breweries including hard ciders, firkin samples and “Bonus Brews.” The city also hosts International Wine Fest (Nov 14 – 15). – Fairfield, OH
15 – 19: Tales of the Cocktail – “Five days of seminars, tastings, product launches, competitions, networking events and so much more at the world’s premier professional cocktail event.” – New Orleans, LA
25: Milwaukee Brewfest – Milwaukee, WI
29 – 31: INDY International Wine Competition – “The largest scientifically organized and independent wine competition in the United States.” – West Lafayette, IN
16: Tap + Cork Beer & Wine Festival – Hosted by creative beverage hotbed Brooklyn, the fest features food trucks, DJs, and “seasonal breweries and wineries.” – Brooklyn, NY
22 – 23: San Diego Spirits Festival – “It’s all about cocktails, culinary and culture.” – San Diego, CA
29 – 31: Los Angeles Times’ The Taste 2015 – Los Angeles, CA
8 – 10: The Moscow Bar Show – Moscow, Russia
9 – 12: St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival – St. Augustine, FL
18 – 20: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati – The United States’ largest Oktoberfest reels in a half-million people and commences annually with the “Running of the Wieners” Dachshund race. – Cincinnati, OH
18 – 21: Frankenmuth Oktoberfest – The only Oktoberfest outside of Munich officially sanctioned by the German parliament. – Frankenmuth, MI
19: Autumn Brew Review – The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild hosts one of the state’s largest beer fests, which brings over 100 breweries and over 3,000 attendees from across the U.S. – Minneapolis, MN
19 – Oct 4: Oktoberfest – The 182-year-old event is the world’s largest festival of any kind. – Munich, Germany
20-21 – Tokyo International Bar Show – In only its third year, the international event brings together many of the world’s best bartenders and bar owners for a variety of programming including the Nadeshiko Lady Bartending Championship. – Tokyo, Japan
24 – 26: Great American Beer Festival – Founded in 1982, this annual event “represents the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served.” – Denver, CO
7 – 10: Master Brewers Association of the Americas Annual Conference – Jacksonville, FL
13 – 16: VITeff – The Sparkling Wine Exhibition – Epernay, France
16 – 18: TASTE Festival of Food, Wine & Spirits – Valley Forge, PA
3 – 6: SIMEI International Enological & Bottling Equipment Exhibition – Milan, Italy
12 – ROOTSTOCK – “A revolutionary conference designed for top quality grapegrowers, vineyard and winery owners, and winemakers worldwide.” – Napa, CA
3 – North Coast Wine Industry Expo – In its fourth year this expo is already one of the largest wine industry shows in North America. – Santa Rosa, CA
4 – 6: WinExpo 2015: 15th Shanghai International Wine & Spirits Exhibition – One of two annual Winexpo iterations in Shanghai (the other running from May 8-10). – Shanghai, China
Which of these fests are you looking forward to? Which have you attended? Let us know in the comments!
Of all the national holidays we celebrate with glasses raised, one day is more deserving of that fanfare than all the others.
December 5th marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition – the 81st anniversary, as of 2014. The enactment of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 was one of the greatest milestones in American history, marking the only time a constitutional amendment (the Eighteenth) has been repealed.
Prohibition was a time unlike any other in the United States. What began in the late 19th century as advocacy for temperance quickly became a drive toward teetotalism that would cleave a nation, turn law-abiding citizens to lawlessness, drive governmental crime and corruption, fund astonishing levels of gang violence, spark a monumental shift in social customs, especially for women, and profoundly shake public faith in federal institutions. It spawned speakeasies, generated the word scofflaw, and fanned the careers of people like Lois Long, a writer and socialite in New York City whose illicit escapades into Prohibition’s kaleidoscopically colorful nightlife the rest of the city followed ardently.
Consequently, its rescission demonstrated a national willingness to accept and remedy misguided policy, returned funding to a government in straits, and rekindled a national industry and traditions whose legacies carry on today. Yet for decades – up until about eight years ago, when Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler began officially championing the reinvigoration of Repeal Day – December 5th passed almost unnoticed.
Morgenthaler, who had been encouraging his patrons to celebrate Repeal Day for years, began using his blog in 2006 to publicize the date, which he felt far more people ought to fete. Reaching out to like-minded industry bloggers and bartenders across the country and beyond, Morgenthaler began to build a small but stalwart support for the cause, which quickly snowballed.
Today cities from Seattle to Chicago to Washington, D.C. commemorate December 5th with parties, decor, drink specials and general revelry, and while the movement is still gathering steam, it seems a likely candidate for imminent adoption by the masses. After all, who doesn’t want another excuse to celebrate?
Today, spread the word to customers and coworkers alike – for most people, all it takes for them to get in the Repeal Day spirit is knowing about the occasion. And after work, we recommend gathering your friends, popping a bottle of wine or champagne, pouring a mugful of foamy beer, or kicking back with classic cocktails – because you can. Cheers to Repeal Day!
A lot of food holidays are arbitrary. (You just missed National Pizza With the Works Except Anchovies Day, for instance.) But National Apple Cider Day comes with a folkloric history.
According to legend, on November 18, 1307, William (Wilhelm) Tell and his son Walter were passing through the town square in the Swiss Alpine village of Altdorf. At the center of the square stood a pole, upon which the town bailiff, Gessler, had placed his hat. The hat stood for the imperial Austrian authority, under whose rule Switzerland was subjugated, and which Gessler represented. All who passed before the hat were to bow, upon penalty of death.
As can be expected with this type of legend, William Tell refused to bow. Gessler ordered Tell’s immediate arrest. Seeking to make an example of the dissident, Gessler then posed Tell, who was a known marksman, a simple challenge: shoot an apple from his son’s head, and both would be allowed to walk free. Miss, and both would die.
Tell took two arrows from the selection offered, and took aim at the apple atop Walter’s head. He shot cleanly through it. Tell was then asked what he had taken an additional arrow for, and he replied that had his son been harmed, it would have been for Gessler. At this second act of treason, Gessler refused to release Tell. Instead, he had him bound, and Gessler himself set off with Tell to bring him to jail in Kussnacht.
Had there not been a storm in sailing to Kussnacht, Apple Cider Day still might not have a backstory. Instead, a storm blew up on Lake Lucerne, and the crew released Tell, who was capable of steering the boat to shore. Tell leapt to shore himself, pushed the boat with Gessler and his crew back out onto the wind-whipped lake, and set off to Kussnacht. There, he awaited Gessler’s party, and as they approached in pursuit he shot Gessler through the heart. As the story goes, the act would spark a series of events that would lead to the Swiss revolution.
True or not, eight hundred years later people across the globe commemorate the folkloric incident by sipping cider on the same day.
Statue of William and Walter Tell in the town square in Altdorf, Switzerland.
Apple cider itself is more tightly bound up in American revolutionary history than in Swiss. It was a de facto national drink of choice around the time of the revolution, which circumvented colonial dependence on Old World imports like wine and tea. Another folk hero, Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), is to thank for taking seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and planting the early states’ western frontiers with apple trees, paving the way for American expansionism. As pioneers moved west, hardy fruit awaited them. The apples were used not to eat (cider apples are extremely bitter, often to the point of inedibility) but to make cider, a safe alternative to water that likely helped many colonists, including children, survive.
Cider apples in Sister Bay, Wis.
Today, the joys of apple cider are being rediscovered. The fruit is so genetically diverse that the seed of any given apple will grow to produce a fruit entirely unique from its predecessor, meaning there is no shortage of apple varieties to be explored. Meanwhile, traditional American cider apples, used in colonial times and reproduced over the years by grafting, are resurfacing along with a cider culture that has begun to truly recover for the first time since Prohibition. Cider bars, cider festivals, cider pairings and cider cocktails – even cider mimosas – are all trending at breakneck speed.
Thanks to its renaissance, November 18 is certainly a day to celebrate.
Sources: Swiss Info, The Smithsonian, Ken B Travels, Sister Bay, The Boys Club and Cidercraft Magazine.