Wine Not?

By Samantha Manahan

I attended a wine festival called IllinoIs Wine in my hometown of Utica, IL. At first, I was a little hesitant; I’ve never been to an event like this, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to try new things.

What I thought was a wine tasting turned out to be a wine festival. The event was held at Matthiessen State Park, with music, food, good company and of course-wine! The vibe was more “music in the park” rather than “grab your Louboutin heels.” The laid back atmosphere allowed people to relax, be comfortable and enjoy the company surrounding them. As the time flew by, I realized more and more everyone should experience a wine festival.

I never turn down a chance to smother my face in barbeque sauce and let me tell you the food trucks did not disappoint. The selection of food ranged from meat galore to only plant-based with everything in between. However, if you’ve ever been to a festival you know food trucks can be over priced. Which is why this particular event allowed people to bring in their own snacks! How awesome is that?!

It can’t be considered a festival without music, right? There was a band that played from open to close. The genre depended on the local artist, but mainly the music stuck to soul, oldies and jazz. Although these genres of music may not be everyone’s taste, it definitely set the mood. Just imagine a large group of people listening to jazz music with glasses of wine in their hands-very “Great Gatsby” esque’ if you ask me.

The social crowd of this event varied from groups of twenty-one year olds and all ages above. There were girls going in groups, couples of all ages and families. This allowed for the atmosphere to be calm, collected and fun! If you’re not one for chaos and commotion, then this is the event for you! My group specifically set up a tent, brought camping chairs and sat in a group conversing about all the new details of our lives. It felt as if we were in our backyard having a get together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Wine, Wine, Wine. Did I mention there was wine here too? There were over 25 vendors carrying different types of wine from dry to semi to sweet. They gave you a wine glass when you entered the event and five tickets, meaning you got to try five different wines for free and if you found “the one,” you’d buy the bottle and go back to your tent to celebrate with friends. Nothing is more important than celebrating life with wine and friends.

This event has taught me that trying new events is worth it. It also taught me that I love wine! Everyone should experience a wine festival because nothing is better than drinking wine with your best pals enjoying good food and live music.

If you’re looking to go to a wine festival check out the information below regarding upcoming events!

Illinois Products Farmers Market – October 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, The Shed in Springfield, IL

Haunted Illinois Wine & Ethnic Food Festival – October 27 starting at 6 p.m and October 28 starting at 7 p.m at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, The Shed in Springfield, IL.

Shawnee Hills Wine Trail – Autumn Inspirations Wine and Food Pairing Weekend November 4 through 5 at the Shawnee Hills Wineries.

Holiday Farmers Market – November 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Expo Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL.