Spirited fun at annual wine festival
Patrons enjoy the 2011 Naperville Wine Festival. This year’s event runs Aug. 24 and 25.
Naperville Wine Festival
CityGate Centre, Naperville
(877) 772-5425; napervillewinefest.org
Updated: August 22, 2012 2:15PM
For its 10th anniversary, the Naperville Wine Festival will once again feature exotic and homegrown wines, along with unique restaurants and live music from a hip band.
The Naperville Wine Festival runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the CityGate Centre. The event will showcase more than 300 wines from around the world. It’s a chance for people to try new wines and to learn more about them, said organizer Scott Janess.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will help support the Naperville Area Humane Society.
The ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass, 10 tastings and a festival program. Additional tasting coupons may be purchased at the festival. Designated driver tickets are available as well.
“We’ve got 51 wine vendors from around the word. It’s a truly international showcase,” Janess said.
There will be an entertainment stage that will feature interactive wine seminars and cooking demonstrations, as well as the band The Lloyd Dobler Effect, a Washington, D.C.-area group that fuses modern rock with Latin rhythms. They will perform both nights.
“They’re awesome,” Janess said. “The guys can do anything. When you get an encore at a wine festival, that’s unique.”
When it came time to program the festival, Janess decided not to fix what wasn’t broken.
“The model’s been so good for so many years now,” he said. “When we moved from Naper Settlement to the CityGate Centre this past year and built the facility, we learned what would work even better. So we’re tweaking it again for 2012, which will tighten up the feel and provide for more covered seating in case it is a little bit warm. We’ve got a couple new restaurants participating.”
Restaurants include the CityGate Grill, SugarToad, Bullhead Cantina, Melting Pot, Sullivan’s and Eddie Merlot’s. Fest-goers will also be able to nosh in the BlueCross BlueShield Family Food Pavilion.
Janess said that people seem to enjoy a mix of the music, the demonstrations and trying new wines.
“I like to get out there and watch people,” he said. “They always seem to do a few laps to make sure they haven’t missed anything. Then I talk to the wine purveyors about what was hot this year and what people liked. And it’s really weather dependent. The sweet, white wines go early because of the early afternoon heat, followed by the red when it gets a little cooler and crisper into the evening when the sun starts to go down.”
You’ll be able to purchase wine before you leave, with discounts increasing as the amount you purchase increases, he said.
If wine just isn’t your thing, the Naperville Wine Festival will feature a Belgian Beer Café where people can not only get a cold one, but also learn some history of Belgian beer and even how to pair it with their favorite foods.
Along with the wine vendors, other exhibitors include General Cigar, Cabot Creamery, Gourmet Blends, Olive Tap, The Great Grape and the Snobby Little Wine Club.
The fest is located near Hotel Arista, which will host after-parties in its two bars.
“Last year, these events went until about 2 a.m., with great success,” Janess said. “They do live music in there, too. So when we end it, people have a place to go and stay right on site. It’s a lot more fun and a bigger addition than what we were able to do in the past.”
Janess said that people should expect “interesting wines from around the world and fantastic restaurants from not only Naperville but the surrounding communities.”