The Best wine & food festivals in the United States

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 22, 2020

Every region of the United State has its own distinct food heritage and culture, and each year they are celebrated at festivals and fairs across the country. Bringing together local food and drinks producers who come to showcase their wares in front of large crowds, these events are hugely popular, often featuring live music and other entertainment to complement the culinary offerings.

Visitors peruse tasty treats at the Taste of Baker festival in Downtown Baker City, Oregon (Photo: Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

The most decadent events of this kind are invariably the festivals that combine food and wine, inviting dedicated gastronomes to savour top class regional wines to accompany the delectable foodie treats on offer. If you’re visiting the US any time soon and would like to see what food and wine festivals are taking place near you, we’ve picked out some of the best that are held each year.

Seattle Wine and Food Experience

For dedicated gastronomes the Seattle Wine and Food Experience is something of a pilgrimage, offering as it does a superb showcase for wine, beverage, food and lifestyle. Local and regional produce are given centre stage, with producers hailing from the Pacific Northwest descending on the event en masse each year. Also in attendance are some of Seattle’s finest chefs who serve up bite-sized treats to eager crowds. There are also plenty of foodie-themed events and activities including chef demos, workshops, sensory experiences and plenty more. VIP tickets grant you one-hour early entrance as well as VIP lounge access and a swag bag full of goodies.

LOCATION Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle DATES February each year

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

One of the city’s most eagerly awaited annual events, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is fast approaching its 3rd decade of showcasing its gastronomic talents. Attracting over 7,000 visitors every year, the event sees hundreds of wineries and restaurants participate in a fully-fledged foodie extravaganza, with specially curated menus featuring local flavours and innovative culinary creations. Dozens of restaurants and wineries host special dining and wine tasting events, and in the city’s French Quarter there are grand tasting events and promenade evenings. The festival also has a strong philanthropic focus, with more than $1.5 million raised for local causes down the years.

LOCATION Venues across New Orleans DATES March each year

A guest receives a top up at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (Photo: New Orleans via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Jersey Shore Wine Festival

A variety of award-winning wineries from throughout the Garden State take part at the Jersey Shore Wine Festival each year, where revellers can enjoy wine tastings, along with live music & entertainment, crafters, retail vendors selling wines, wine products and services, and an assortment of food truck vendors. Among the notable wineries to appear in recent years are Chestnut Run Farm, DiMatteo’s Vineyards, Plagido’s Winery, Villari Vineyards, and Wagonhouse Winery. The festival also prides itself on its charitable endeavours, with all net proceeds from the event donated towards Sylvia’s Children, an organisation committed to improve the living conditions for children in Uganda.

LOCATION First Energy Park, Lakewood, New Jersey DATES April each year

Visitors peruse stalls at the Jersey Shore Wine Festival (Photo: Jersey Shore Wine Festival)

Key West Food & Wine Festival

Shining a spotlight on local chefs, indigenous Florida Keys ingredients, and premium spirits is the overarching goal of this hugely popular wine and food themed event, which has been running for over a decade. Hosted by passionate culinary and beverage producers, the festival features waterfront tastings, winemaker/chef collaborations, and several other quirky events. Among the major highlights each year is “Duval Uncorked”, which sees masses of wine lovers descend on Key West’s famous Duval Street for a tantalising mile-long wine tasting, with many of the street’s chic boutiques, funky shops and galleries participating by offering wines from around the world.

LOCATION Venues across Key West DATES June each year

The Key West Food & Wine Festival in full flow (Photo: Key West Food & Wine Festival)

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival

For the past 15 years, this wine festival has drawn visitors from far and wide to share, celebrate and taste award-winning wines. The festival has expanded to include wine tasting seminars, along with local food purveyors, chefs and VIP wine/food pairings, providing a cultural experience for all wine enthusiasts, from the dabbler to dedicated afficionados. From sweet to dry, sparkling, rose’, the range of tastes will please the palates of all who attend. Whether varietals or blends all are the bounty of the Lake Effect.

LOCATION The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail and AVA, Southwest Michigan DATES June each year

The waterfront setting at Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival (Photo: Courtesy of Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail)

International Pinot Noir Celebration

A veritable mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine, the International Pinot Noir Celebration has been drawing world-renowned winemakers, northwest chefs, and wine lovers each summer for over three long decades. Held on the beautiful and historic Linfield College campus in the heart of picturesque Oregon wine country, the event puts on a busy schedule of seminars, walkaround tastings, winery tours, mouth-watering meals prepared by top regional chefs who specialise in farm-to-table cuisine, and music and dancing under the stars. A popular long-standing tradition of the event is the Salmon Bake, which showcases wild salmon roasted on alder stakes over a huge custom-built fire pit. Meanwhile for the most dedicated of Pinot enthusiasts, the Sunday Passport to Pinot invites 500 fans to taste wine from 70+ featured wineries in a relaxed outdoor setting, augmented by culinary treats served up by local chefs.

LOCATION Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon DATES July each year

Festival-goers socialising at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (Photo: International Pinot Noir Celebration)

Pacific Wine and Food Classic

Hundreds of wineries, beer and cocktails makers, along with more than 60 local culinary legends, gather each year against the idyllic backdrop of soft sand and summer breezes for the ultimate summer food and wine experience. Never too crowded, guests can stroll around tasting top notch food and wine at their leisure, as well as taking up the chance to meet and engage with celebrated chefs while listening to the atmosphere-enhancing sounds of live music performances with a summer twist. Get your dancing shows on at a Silent Disco on the beach before kicking back with an indulgent glass of champagne at the Bubble Bar or glass of wine in the relaxing Wine Lounge.

LOCATION Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, Newport Beach, California DATES August each year

Bounty of Yamhill County

This annual event has grown to become a staple of Oregon’s cultural calendar, celebrating as it does the famous wineries, revered chefs, and sustainable family farms of Yamhill County. The area’s natural landscape benefits from rich soils and a mild climate, making if fertile ground for food and drinks production, and the Bounty of Yamhill County celebrates that status through an array of fun-packed outdoor activities and evening events. Highlights each year include outdoor alfresco dinners prepared by acclaimed regional chefs, hot air ballooning over Willamette Valley wineries, horseback riding through three Dundee Hill vineyards complete with wine tastings.

LOCATION Willamette Valley, Oregon DATES August each year

One of the verdant vineyards of Willamette Valley (Photo: Sheila Sund via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Music City Food + Wine

The brainchild of award-winning rock band – and Nashville residents – Kings of Leon, along with acclaimed chef Jonathan Waxman, Music City Food + Wine brings together two of life’s greatest passions – food and music. Taking place in several historic venues and outdoor paces across downtown Nashville, the event gives revellers the chance to mingle with chefs while indulging in artisanal food, wine, beer and spirits. There are also over 40 demos and tasting sessions run by chefs, sommeliers and other experts, while on the Sunday an assortment of stellar chefs serve up creative brunch fare and eye-opening cocktails, all set against the backdrop of live gospel music.

LOCATION Bicentennial Park & Walk of Fame Park, Nashville DATES September each year

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Co-founded by two of Hawaii’s most celebrated chefs, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is widely considered the premier epicurean event in the Pacific region. Featuring a roster of more than 150 acclaimed master chefs, culinary personalities, winemakers and mixologists, the event is held over three weekends on multiple islands and is designed to showcase the diversity of Hawaii’s locally grown produce. The festival attracts international attention each year thanks to its array of grand tastings, lavish dining experiences, exclusive wine tastings, and plenty more.

LOCATION Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island DATES October each year

Guests tuck into mouth-watering buffet fare at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Photo: Kanu Hawaii via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Seed Food & Wine Week

The plant-based food movement has been growing at great speed in recent years, with concerns around the environment and animal welfare becoming issues of global importance. The success of Seed Food and Wine – the first of its kind in the country – is further evidence that this movement isn’t going away, bringing together a community of ideas and passionate individuals committed to elevating the conversation around conscious living. Featuring unlimited pours and bites by plant based & vegan restaurants from across the US, the festival offers a diverse programme of activities including cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, celebrity chef dinners, craft beer and spirits tastings, a veggie burger battle, fitness to body care, workshops and panels, yoga, urban gardening, garden parties, live music and more.

LOCATION Venues across Miami DATES November each year

Denver International Wine Festival

Held in the vast event space and grand ballroom of the modern Denver Marriott Westminster hotel, the Denver International Wine Festival showcases the largest selection of international and domestic wines at any Grand Tasting in the Rocky Mountain region. Widely considered one of the nation’s most prestigious international wine festivals, the event features a whole host informative and fun-packed activities including a hotly contested food-and-wine pairing competition between Colorado chefs, a tasting of 400 wines including premium reserve wines, educational wine seminars, gourmet food samplings, and a daylong tour of three local wineries.

LOCATION The Omni Interlocken Resort, Broomfield, Colorado DATES November each year

Visitors scour the goods at the Denver International Wine Festival(Photo: Christopher J Davies via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)