Whether you're a wine newbie or a seasoned sommelier, a wine festival is a fun way to expand your wine knowledge while sampling some great wines. Since New York's wine country is so large, there are festivals year-round in many different regions, focusing on everything from different wine varieties to local food and drink to winemaking. You can find wine festivals in New York City and the surrounding regions, or head upstate for a more rustic festival experience.
New York City
While the city isn't an official AVA, it boasts some well-known wine festivals celebrating the wines of New York state.
In the fall, you can check out the New York City Wine & Food Festival, which benefits two organizations working to fight hunger in New York and nationwide: Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength. Rather than focusing on local wines, this star-studded festival features celebrity chefs and well-known foodies like Paula Deen and Martha Stewart, as well as famous wine experts like Anthony Giglio and Mark Oldman.
Outside of the city, in Long Island, you can check out the Long Island Wine & Food Festival. The annual summer festival features tours and tastings at North Fork vineyards, along with local food pairings and music. Long Island's wines have a less than stellar reputation, and this festival is a great chance to see how far the North Fork wineries have come.
At the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest, you can sample and learn about regional and non-regional wines, taste local foods, and refine your culinary skills at one of the cooking demonstrations. Festival organizers have also teamed up with New York's MTA transit system, so festival goers can travel from the city without a car.
The Niagara Wine Trail has frequent wine events, and each summer they present the Wine and Culinary Festival. The festival showcases local wine and food in a relaxed atmosphere. The Artpark, where the festival is located, is right on the beautiful Niagara River.
Probably the most well-known wine festival in New York is the Finger Lakes Wine Festival at Watkins Glen. The annual summer festival is a three-day party of tastings and togas. If you're traveling with someone who's not a wine enthusiast, they can head down to the Brewer's Garden to try out some local beers while you sample wines from more than 80 local vineyards.
Later in the summer, visit America's Grape Country Wine Festival, featuring wines from across New York state along with country music from local and national artists. Looking to sample specific varieties of Finger Lakes wine? The fall Riesling Festival or the winter Ice Wine Festival may be the event for you.
If you prefer a wine country experience without the festival environment, wine tours might be more up your alley. Up next: Check out some of the fun ways to tour New York's wine country.