Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Melbourne, Australia – March
It began in 1993 with a humble 12-event lineup. Today, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is bursting at its seams with over 250 events across the state of Victoria. Of course, Melbourne proper remains at the heart of the action. For two weeks every March, the state’s best chefs, cheese makers, wine producers, and more gather to share their creations with the public. Among the top events is the River Graze—a series of pop-up markets, stalls, and food trucks along the Yarra River. The World’s Longest Lunch in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran is another unmissable experience. During this event, more than 1,600 diners feast at a table stretching over 1,640 feet. Don’t forget to check out the Masterclass series, with demonstrations by some of the top chefs in the world.
Grape Harvest Festival
Mendoza, Argentina – March
In the wine-producing region of Mendoza, Argentina, grapes are cause for celebration. For over 80 years, Mendoza has hosted a 10-day hootenanny in honor of fruit at the core of winemaking. The festival dates back to the 17th century, when peasants offered grapes to the patron saint of Mendoza in hopes of a bountiful harvest. Nowadays, the March festivities kick off with the Blessing of the Fruit. Following this is an impeccably choreographed spectacle of lights, costumes, music, and folkloric dancing put on by over 1,000 performers. During the White Way Parade the next day, the 18 departments of the Mendoza province welcome their Harvest Festival Queens on elaborate floats. The celebrations conclude with the crowning of the new queen.
Bordeaux Wine Festival
Bordeaux, France – June
Wine tastings, workshops, fireworks, and concerts on the Garonne River? It doesn’t get much better than that! Held every two years in June (the next is in 2020), the Bordeaux Wine Festival is a four-day celebration of Bordeaux and New Aquitaine wines along the city’s UNESCO-listed riverside. This mile-long “wine road” hosts over 80 appellations (legally defined and protected grape-growing areas) from Bordeaux and surrounding regions. The festival features food pavilions, masterclasses, wine seminars, street theater, pyrotechnics, boat rides, and barrel rolling. During the sound and light show, building facades—including that of the 18th-century Palais de la Bourse—are illuminated throughout the city center.
Haro Wine Festival
Haro, Spain – June
Are you more interested in wearing wine than drinking it? You can do just that at the Haro Wine Festival, held every year in June. The celebration takes place on the outskirts of Haro, a small wine village in Spain’s La Rioja that’s home to around 40% of the region’s vineyards. The crowning jewel of the celebration is the famous Battle of Wine—a purple-tinged free-for-all attended by upwards of 10,000 participants. The “battle” begins with a lively procession, with festivalgoers marching through the streets carrying bottles, buckets, squirt guns, and other containers full of liquid ammo. Water trucks filled with wine supply seemingly endless refills throughout the event. The origins of this tradition date back to the 13th century, when Haro and the neighboring town of Miranda del Ebro began a dispute over land boundaries. The disagreement devolved into wine throwing, and the custom has remained for centuries!
Rheingau Wine Festival
Wiesbaden, Germany – August
For 10 days every August, the city of Wiesbaden comes to life in what locals affectionately call “Weinfest.” Over 100 local winemakers set up shop in Schlossplatz and Dern’sches Gelände, joined by stall after stall of gourmet delights. The Rheingau Riesling and sparkling wines are the undeniable stars of the show here. However, the 10 million visitors who flock to this yearly festival will have no trouble finding the wine type that speaks to them. There’s even a “twin town” stand, which celebrates the wines of a different Wiesbaden sister city each year. (The 2019 festival, which is now winding down, featured wines from the Suvla Winery in Fatih, Turkey.) Of course, no wine celebration is complete without music. Weinfest offers three stages’ worth of entertainment guaranteed to keep your toes a-tappin’.
Vienna Wine Hike
Vienna, Austria – September
There are approximately 1,730 acres of vineyards within Vienna‘s city limits. When it comes to celebrating great weather and great wine, the Austrian capital knows what to do. Called the “Wiener Weinwandertag” by locals, Vienna’s Wine Hiking Day is a delight for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The event takes place over two days every autumn,when the city opens three trail routes through 15 miles of idyllic rolling vineyards. The routes range in length from two-and-a-half to seven miles and are accessible to everyone, including children and those in wheelchairs. Hikers can wander through the vineyards, learn about wine culture, and sample local vintages at wineries and wine taverns scattered along each route.
Soweto Wine & Lifestyle Festival
Soweto, South Africa – September
This dazzling three-day festival, now in its 14th year, has become Africa’s preeminent celebration of food and wine. Originally designed to introduce Cape wines to this Johannesburg township, the festival has blossomed into a full-blown cultural extravaganza. Traditional African music and dance create a pulsing atmosphere, while visitors flock to the hundreds of wine stands manned by vineyards from across the country. The festival also hosts a lively street food market, which showcases dishes from some of the most talented chefs in the area.