Will Drive for Wine

Grand Rapids festival is a wine lover’s utopia


Drive a few hours west later this month and you can simultaneously sample wines from right around the corner and across the globe.

Celebrating its eighth year, the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival returns Nov. 19-21, occupying close to 3 acres’ worth of space at the DeVos Place Convention Center downtown.

It's a road trip worth taking, with more than 100 wineries and 1,200 wines represented — not to mention beer and food.

"In the past eight years, this event has grown to be the highlight of the pre-holiday season — not only for Grand Rapids, but for West Michigan," says Dianna Stampfler, the show's publicist. "You won’t find a culinary event of this magnitude anywhere in the Midwest that brings together the caliber of presenters and products in a downtown area rich with foodie culture."

One of the coolest aspects of the event is the place of honor given to Michigan wineries, stationed in the first few rows of vendors as guests enter the main wine hall. More than 30 Michigan wineries are on the roster this year, including the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP).

“It serves as a solid opportunity to share the wine and personalities of our eight member wineries with attendees,” says Sara Klebba, WOMP’s spokeswoman. “There is an amazing story behind the location and each individual winery on Old Mission Peninsula, and attending a show like this allows us the opportunity to connect with old friends who have visited the wineries as well as forge new friendships with folks who aren’t familiar with the area or the wineries.”

From the Michigan aisles, attendees can turn a corner and find themselves transported — virtually, at least — to Napa, Alsace, Mosel, or Rioja.

It is, I observed during a past show, the only place where you can sip Brys Estate Pinot Noir from Michigan one moment and Dom Perignon from France the next.

Besides booth-to-booth sampling, guests can augment their experience with paid pairing sessions ($45-$60) that highlight dishes by upscale local restaurants alongside wine and beer. Plus, more than a dozen restaurants will be onsite, selling small plates of their specialties.

Attendees also can partake in a lineup of free seminars and workshops addressing various food and beverage topics. I'll be there Friday and Saturday presenting "Reds on the Rise," focused on traveling Michigan's wine trails and the state's increasing red wine production. Other topics include wine regions throughout the world, wine basics, specific grape varietals, and various wine styles.

Stampfler says there have been several additions to this year’s festival, including the new Elite Wine Collection, featuring “higher end, higher priced” wines.

Admission to the festival is $15 for Thursday or when purchased in advance for Friday or Saturday. Friday and Saturday admission is $20 at the door. A three-day pass is available for $40.

Food and drink sampling requires additional tasting tickets, available in .50 denominations onsite.

A free festival app available for Apple or Android devices allows users to browse wine lists, view seminar schedules, and more.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit GRWineFestival.com


Cortney Casey is a certified sommelier and co-founder of MichiganByTheBottle.com, a website and online community that promotes the entire Michigan wine industry. She’s also co-owner of Michigan By The Bottle tasting rooms operated in partnership with multiple Michigan wineries and located in Shelby Township and Royal Oak. Contact her at cort@michiganbythebottle.com.


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Love at First Sip

Michiganders dish about their love affairs with local wine

Making Sense of ‘Meritage’

How the badge indicates that an American wine blend reaches Bordeaux-level quality

The Faces of Michigan Wine: Josh Morgan

To say that 2017 was a pivotal year for Josh Morgan would be putting it mildly.

’Twas the Night Before Christmas: The Michigan Wine Remix

The Sky’s the Limit

Pilot opens second winery location in Irish Hills
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. 2018 Restaurant of the Year: Parc
    Excellent food, exceptional service, and a crisp and formal but distinctly unstuffy atmosphere...
  2. The Fisher Building Is a One-Stop Shop for the Alternative Bride
    Plus, bridal looks with vintage flare
  3. What’s the Source of the Steam Pouring Out of Detroit’s Sidewalks?
    Environmental groups want to clear the air about the fuel behind a little-known power system
  4. An Hour With ... Angela Aufdemberge
    President and CEO, Vista Maria
  5. Love at First Sip
    Michiganders dish about their love affairs with local wine
  6. Local Winter Activities Worth Bracing the Cold
    Metro Detroit’s parks are prime for winter adventures
  7. Cocktail Recipe: Man on the Moon
  8. Meet the Makers: The Empowerment Plan
    How the non-profit’s coat, sleeping bag project continues to expand
  9. Netflix Set to Bring Local Author’s Horror Novel to Life
    Sandra Bullock stars in the film adaptation of Ferndale author/musician Josh Malerman’s...
  10. The Charm Is in the Details at Cellar 313
    A charming interior meets well-curated wines at this quaint Grosse Pointe hotspot