5 Food and Wine Events Worth Traveling to This Year

Make plans to attend exciting culinary festivals that benefit charitable causes this year.

By Gwen Pratesi, ContributorJan. 8, 2018
By Gwen Pratesi, ContributorJan. 8, 2018, at 10:28 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

5 Food and Wine Events Worth Traveling to This Year

Couples wine tasting and enjoying charcuterie board on patio at winery tasting room

From Sonoma to South Carolina, these world-class food and wine events champion celebrated winemakers and chefs and offer the chance to give back for a good cause. (Getty Images).

With so many food and wine festivals in alluring locales around the country, how do you decide which ones are worth the trip? While some extravagant culinary events are focused on making profits and promoting tourism, others use the proceeds to benefit charities. For example, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Nantucket Wine & Food Festival and San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival support the culinary arts and training, enology and viticulture or hotel management. There are also others, like the New York City Wine & Food Festival that benefit the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength, the organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

In addition to these popular festivals, many wine and culinary events in the U.S. partner with their communities and are dedicated to supporting medical and social organizations. Located in beautiful destinations, from Southern beach towns to wine regions in California, these five events are some of the best and unexpected culinary spectacles, and offer extraordinary opportunities to give back to local communities and charitable causes.

Naples Winter Wine Festival
Naples, Florida

This prestigious January affair in Naples in South Florida is one of the top 10 arts and entertainment events for wealthy Americans and is one of the top wine auctions in the country. With just 580 guests in attendance, the proceeds from this exclusive weekend benefit the Naples Children & Education Foundation. The impressive celebrity chef lineup includes 18 chefs from across the world, 30 acclaimed vintners and 17 master sommeliers highlighting spectacular vintages from around the globe. During the Meet the Kids Day Tour & Luncheon, guests will be able to see how their donations have helped benefit the community's underprivileged and at-risk children.

Make reservations at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples to experience this extraordinary weekend and embrace the scenic setting of this iconic oceanfront resort. The property's guest rooms and suites features views of the Gulf of Mexico, offering an ideal perch for taking in spectacular sunsets in the evening.

Gourmet & Grapes
Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Indulge your culinary cravings in 2018 with a trip to this unspoiled coastal destination in South Carolina, located just 21 miles from downtown Charleston. Gourmet & Grapes, now in its 10th year, takes place each February at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort and benefits cancer research and patient programs at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. One of the premier food and wine events in the southeast, the weekend-long affair draws an impressive list of award-winning and acclaimed chefs as well as outstanding winemakers and master distillers.

Plan to stay at The Sanctuary to experience all of the festivities. This luxury oceanfront property exudes gracious Southern hospitality and offers exceptional service. Book an ocean view room to enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean and take time to head out to the club house at the Ocean Course and the Ryder Cup Bar for a sunset you won't soon forget.

Destin Charity Wine Auction
Destin, Florida

Brush up on your wine knowledge and travel to Florida's Emerald Coast this spring to participate in the Destin Charity Wine Auction. All of the proceeds of the three-day benefit go to children in need in Northwest Florida via 15 local children's charities. The best way to experience the weekend's highlights is with a patron package, which includes a dinner in a private home featuring a celebrity chef and two vintners from notable wineries as well as tickets to the reserve tasting and the silent and live auction on Saturday. The auction is hosted in conjunction with the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, so all patrons also receive tickets to Sunday's festival with their package.

Make reservations at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Miramar Beach for your wine enthusiast getaway, one of the sponsors of the event. Take a break from all the wine tastings and dining to relax on the beautiful white-sand beach or book a spa treatment at the award-winning Serenity by the sea Spa.

Sonoma County Wine Auction
Sonoma, California

Spend a fall weekend in one of the most touted wine regions in the U.S. to attend the Sonoma County Wine Auction. Named one of the top charitable wine auctions by Wine Spectator, this weekend-long event brings together top wine producers and vintners and local celebrity chefs to support regional programs focused on education, arts and culture, the environment and health and human services. This includes a literacy program for children and grants for people in need in the community. Mid- to late September is the perfect time to travel to California's wine country as the weather is stunning and the region's luscious grapes will be nearly ready for harvesting.

Check updates on their website for the 2018 dates, venues, participants and program, but rest assured that from the Preview Party to the Vintners Dinners and Wine Auction, there will be extraordinary wines and cuisine at the event. Plan to spend the rest of your time touring wine destinations in both Napa and Sonoma and stay in one of the area's smaller luxury boutique properties or inns, such as the intimate Hotel Le Mars, a Parisian-inspired Relais & Châteaux property located in Healdsburg, California.

Euphoria
Greenville, South Carolina

The singer/songwriter Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski founded Euphoria in 2006. With the 12th anniversary this year, the event has grown to over 7,000 food and wine enthusiasts and acclaimed chefs (including several with Michelin stars) from around the country and the world. The busy four-day festival envelopes this reinvigorated Southern town with a hip vibe and combines food, wine and music for guests while raising significant funds for charities and putting Greenville on the map as an exciting culinary and tourism destination. Event beneficiaries include South Carolina Children's Theatre and A Child's Haven.

The festivities begin Thursday evening with the Songwriters' Recipe and Greenville Kickoff Party. Friday evening's Taste of the South features music, food, wine and brews at the outdoor Wyche Pavilion, showcasing the city's thriving downtown area and Falls Park on the Reedy River. The full-on schedule continues all day Saturday and Saturday night, culminating with Sunday's Fired Up! BBQ brunch. Book a room at the Hyatt Regency Greenville to be close to all of the activities and make sure to carve out some time to take a stroll through the charming downtown area.


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A couple rides in a convertible.

Gwen Pratesi, Contributor

Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Finalist in Journalism, award-winning food and travel writer, ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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