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  • Writer's pictureKelly Cave

NC Wine Festival

The North Carolina Wine Festival was held at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary located along the Symphony Lake Greenway.

Live music from Chairmen of the Board, The Shakedown, and Jason Adamo Band played throughout the day. If you purchased a regular ticket there were five food trucks available for lunch. You could sit, eat and enjoy great music. The weather was perfect and the stage offered some shade.

A Few Helpful Hints~

I would forgo carrying in a clear plastic bag for your items. There are several opportunities to get a reusable tote bag from vendors. You also receive a plastic wine tasting glass that you could also use for water. There are several water filling stations throughout the property. We suggest a jacket you can tie around your waist.

Some people brought chairs, but you can rent chairs inside the venue for a small fee. We suggest claiming your spot when you arrive if you intend on relaxing by the stage . Parking is free, but unless you have a designated driver, we suggest staying with walking distance. We walked from our hotel (about a mile). If you do happen have a designated driver, they get a lower ticket price.

We purchased the VIP tickets to take advantage of the early entrance and catered lunch. The doors opened at 11:00 a.m. for VIP tickets. We arrived at 11:15 a.m. and the line was extremely long. Security and event staff facilitated the entry process by screening ticket holders before they reached the final entry point. Event planners emailed ticket holders well in advance with detailed instructions to make this process simple. Security was very strict with regards to event rules.

There was a mixture of information booths, vendors, wineries, breweries and distilleries. As mentioned earlier we had VIP tickets which allowed us early entry as did hundreds of other people. It seemed as if the majority of people were VIP ticket holders.

VIP ticket holder admission included a Chuy’s buffet lunch, nachos from 12-4, Social House vodka cocktails and Biltmore wine tasting. These perks made the extra VIP ticket price worth a few extra dollars.

The sample booth lines were long, especially at booths that were staffed with just a few people. There was an email regarding taste and move along, but many people did not adhere to that suggestion. All the booth owners were pleasant and willing to spend a few minutes with us. We didn’t spend a lot of time at the vendor booths although the items were eye-catching and unique. Once we finished lunch we checked our map and made our plan for the rest of the afternoon. By this time the Chairman of the Board had taken the stage and lines started to thin out a bit. Many people were sitting in the VIP area relaxing with cocktails or sitting by the stage. The event staff announced the last call for samples by 4:30 p.m.

Overall, we enjoyed the festival. We sampled several wines from wineries we had not previously visited. Personally, we would rather see more wineries than breweries and distilleries, but we understand having to appeal to a wide audience. We did sample the distilleries, but with most hard liquors we like to cut it with ice or water. A few of the distilleries had a sample cocktail using their product.

Left- Andrew from Mountain Brook Vineyards, in Tryon, North Carolina

Center- Levi from JOLO Winery and Vineyards in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

Right- Lashonda from Melanated Wine in Durham, North Carolina

We had a amazing day and definitely look forward to returning in the future. Any time we get together, drink wine and reconnect with our winery friends, it’s a good day.

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