One of the greatest pleasures of life after retirement is that we finally have that free time to enjoy all of the little things. There's final time to perfect your golf game, perhaps. Or read all those best-sellers. Or travel. Or, for some of us, time to more fully savor a glass of vine.
For oenophiles, as we wine lovers like to be known, there are few local events quite so rewarding and enlightening as the Cincinnati Wine Festival.
It’s much, much more than a glorified wine tasting. If that’s all there was to it, you could simply pop in on wine tastings in local stores. Or visit a local winery. But those are intimate gatherings. The Cincinnati Wine Festival represents the other end of the spectrum– it’s enormous.
And, it’s important to note, it’s a festival with a cause. During the more than two decades since the first gathering, the Cincinnati Wine Festival has donated more than $3.9 million dollars to local charities.
This year’s Cincinnati International Wine Festival, as it is officially known, was a smashing success. Taking place over three days, March 6-8, it went through 4 major phases.
1. Winery dinners.
Visiting winemakers from around the world were paired with a leading chef from the Greater Cincinnati area. Together, each team developed a multi-course dining and wine-tasting experience that proved to be as illuminating as they were festive.
- Leonardo LoCascio, Founder of Winebow, Inc. worked with Orchids at the Palm Court.
- Storybook Mountain Vineyards were paired with Carlo & Johnny
- Heitz Wine Cellars made their way to Jag's Steak & Seafood
- Laetitia Vineyards benefited from the character of La Poste Eatery
- Boisset Family Estates found a match in Tony's Steak & Seafood
In addition to the incredible meals, and perfectly paired wines, diners had the opportunity to learn a little about the history of the various vineyards where their wines had been born-- and hear about the wine-making adventures from the visiting winemakers.
2. Grand Tastings
Three Grand Tastings are, in many ways, the heart of the Festival’s activities every year.
Hosted in the enormous ballrooms on the third floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati, each event featured tastings of more than 700 wines from 100 or so top vineyards from all around the globe. There were new wines and rare wines and extraordinary, visionary wines.
Accompanied by fine foods, live music and a silent auction, these jam-packed events were, as promised, the centerpieces of the weekend.
3. Charity Auction and Luncheon
For those who were eager to let the Festival consume the entire weekend, there was Saturday’s Charity Auction and Luncheon. With a sumptuous setting in the glorious Hall of Mirrors in the art deco Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, the afternoon event began with a dual silent and live auction.
While an auction may seem like an afterthought or a necessity for any charity event, these were no ordinary auctions.
The catalog was filled with limited-release bottles, winemaker-signed grand format bottles and rare wines from the cellars of notable Cincinnatians, as we;; as chef's table dining opportunities at exclusive Cincinnati homes, fantastic vacation trips, wine cellar tours and more. And that was all before the luncheon-- especially prepared by chef Todd Kelly and featuring wines presented by winemakers and winery principals from all over the U.S.
4. Golf Tournament
The fourth element of the Festival hasn’t actually taken place yet. Though it is definitely part of the Cincinnati Wine Festival, the annual Russ Wiles Memorial Golf Tournament is regularly scheduled for a little later in the year in the hope of milder weather.
So you’ve still got time to sign up for the June event, which begins– of course– with a Dom Perignon toast. For more information, go to winefestival.com.