Love to sample tasty sips and bites? Get these adults-oriented food and drink events on your calendar.
By Hope S. Philbrick
As any Southerner worth his sweet tea knows food is important and celebrating it is just good sense and good fun.
As a food and travel writer, I’ve attended more than my fair share of culinary events. These four are personal favorites: Hosted in fantastic destinations across the southeastern United States, each one impresses the palate while showcasing different aspects of contemporary Southern cuisine. Regardless of how high the cost of a tank of gas may rise, these events and communities have consistently proven to be well worth the expense.
See you there!
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
New Orleans, Louisiana
May 23-27, 2018
Of course, no foodie or cocktail enthusiast lacks an excuse to visit New Orleans, but NOWFE is to wine tastings what Mardi Gras is to frat parties. For more than 20 years, the five-day bacchanalia showcases wine and culinary creations and the personalities behind them. You’ll meet New Orleans’ premier chefs and restaurateurs as well as winemakers from around the world. The event lineup includes food and wine tastings, seminars, cooking demonstrations, wine dinners at some of the most fabulous restaurants in town, and two Grand Tastings. Don’t miss the Royal Street Stroll, during which you can sip wines and sample Cajun and Creole fare while browsing boutique shops. During NOWFE more than 1,000 wines from nearly 200 wineries will be poured—do not attempt to taste them all and then drive home. Stay at a hotel, such as the Omni Royal Orleans or The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, both convenient walking distance to all events as well as all the famed French Quarter and Downtown areas have to offer.
Odds of Encountering Children: Zero. All NOWFE events are exclusive to persons age 21 and older.
For more information visit nowfe.com.
September 10-16, 2018
A whopping 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky; 69 percent is made in the Bardstown area! Any time of year, touring all the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail awakens the senses and invites new discoveries; the bourbon capital of Bardstown is the ideal place to set up a temporary home base for the trip. But during the annual Bourbon Festival, it’s like the distillers bring the trail to you. There are numerous opportunities to sample an impressive line-up of bourbons from all of Kentucky’s great distilleries while rubbing elbows with master distillers and chinking commemorative glassware with fellow bourbon enthusiasts. From swanky black-tie galas to casual boot-kickin’ good times, the festival is comprised of more than 40 events including Bourbon, Cigars & Jazz; The Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Gala; Bourbon-Style Cooking School; The World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay; Boots & Bourbon; Kentucky Bourbon All-Star Sampler; and many more, all with a unique vibe. Events serving food prove that Kentucky cuisine is a tasty fusion of Southern and Midwestern styles. Throughout the festival gallons of whiskey are poured, straight-up and also mixed into tasty cocktails. Shuttles ensure guests don’t drink and drive. Rest easy while staying at Beautiful Dreamer B&B, where the modern construction is styled to evoke the early 1800s so there’s a nostalgic vibe without compromising conveniences.
Odds of Encountering Children: All Bourbon Festival paid events and the Spirits Garden are exclusive to persons age 21 and older. However, children and teens are welcome to attend any of the 17 different free events, such as the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay, music on the lawn, balloon glow and more.
For more information call 800-638-4877 or visit kybourbonfestival.com.
Greenville, South Carolina
September 20-23, 2018
If Greenville, South Carolina isn’t already on your foodie radar, it’s time for an update. Stroll through the award-winning downtown any time of year and you’ll be overrun with dining and drinking options, from a new micro distillery right on Main Street to a diverse array of restaurants, pubs to sweet shops. (There’s even a bakery selling treats for dogs.) Euphoria shines the spotlight on the culinary and musical arts during the four-day event that’s a blissful feast for all the senses. Enjoy several opportunities to sip wine and beer while nibbling on bites cooked by some of South Carolina’s and the world’s best chefs, all while listening to some great tunes performed live. Euphoria takes a laid-back, friendly approach to serving up its tasty mix of flavors. Local and guest chefs team up to present scrumptious multi-course meals paired with featured wines or brews. Hometown music heroes share the stage with talent from far-flung places. There are also cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, cookbook signings and more. Guest dinners and jazz brunch are perennial favorites. Euphoria grows organically each year. The Sunday Supper is a personal favorite aspect of the weekend. Locals so adore Euphoria that they schedule life events around the weekend; you can’t miss by doing the same. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Greenville and it’s easy to walk down Main Street to the events.
Odds of Encountering Children: Slim to none. Friday’s Taste of the South and Sunday’s Brunch events are more likely than others to host children; but since identification is verified upon admission (for a beverage wristband) to all Euphoria events, few if any children attend. The wine dinners are most unlikely to seat children.
For more information visit euphoriagreenville.com.
Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife – W3
Jekyll Island, Georgia
February 7-10, 2019
As if getting to relax and unwind at the Westin on Jekyll Island, Georgia weren’t tempting enough reason to visit (it is!), the hotel hosts the annual Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife event each February. Over the course of a long weekend retreat, you’ll meet some of the region’s best chefs and restaurateurs as well as winemakers and distillers from around the world. Expect to tantalize and reward your taste buds with inspired beverages and cuisine during multi-course dinners, educational seminars, buffets, parties, tasting extravaganzas (hosted indoors and out) and more. The festivities raise funds for the Jekyll Island Foundation which helps protect coastal wildlife (including sea turtles). This culinary weekend is for grownups with exquisite taste. Expect to sip and savor a range of whiskies, spirits, wines, beers and foods. The oceanfront views, upbeat music and relaxed island vibe sweeten the experience. The overall scale and pace of the event is relaxed enough to allow time for walking the beach and/or exploring the lowcountry island. Attendance numbers are just-right: There’s plenty of elbow room and time for genuine conversation. Excellent!
Odds of Encountering Children: Zero. All W3 events are exclusive to persons age 21 and older.
-Photo Credits: Euphoria © Stephen Stinson 2011; KY Bourbon Festival courtesy KY Bourbon Festival; NOWFE courtesy NOWFE; W3 by JandDimages.
This article was first posted in 2012; W3 was added to the list in 2018.
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.