Naperville Wine Festivals the toast of the town
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Victoria Peterson once taught college-level anatomy, biology and genetics.
That is, until she decided she needed a change.
If you go
What: Naperville Wine Festival
When: 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, and 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20
Where: CityGate Centre, Calamos Investments campus, north of I-88 and east of Route 59 in Naperville
Cost: $27 in advance, $35 at the gate; $10 for designated drivers
Info: (847) 772-5425 or napervillewinefestival.com
"Wine had always been a hobby and it was a hobby that turned into a business," said Peterson, co-owner of Peterson Wine Cellars and Naperville's three Peterson Spirits and Fine Wine locations.
She and her husband lived in Washington for 14 years, in an area where wineries were just gaining popularity. Peterson used her master's degree in biology to explore a new calling.
"I understand the whole science of winemaking," she said.
After almost a decade in business, the Petersons will join the ranks of the Naperville Wine Festival vendors. The ninth annual event returns from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, and 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.
"There's nothing like this," said Scott Janess, president of inPLAY Events, which organizes the festival. "We're bringing a different type of event than Last Fling or Ribfest to Naperville."
A decade ago Janess and his colleagues at inPLAY Events decided to re-create the feel of a Chicago street festival in the suburbs. Janess, who attended high school at Benet Academy in Lisle, saw the area as a perfect location for the event.
In 2003, the event planning organization put together the first Naperville Wine Festival, which attracted about 4,000 people.
"We've been slowly climbing ever since" Janess said of the 7,800-person showing in 2010.
This year the event has moved to a new location at CityGate Centre, located at I-88 and Route 59, for what Janess believes will be the "largest event yet."
Tickets are $27 in advance or $35 at the gate and include a souvenir wineglass, 10 tastings, food and wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. Designated drivers may purchase tickets for $10 to gain admission and receive two nonalcoholic drink vouchers.
"The wine component is the key," Janess said. "Everyone is extremely interested in learning about wine."
He highlights the growing interest in wine from members of those adult in their early 20s.
Guests will be invited to taste from a selection of more than 300 wines from around the world and sample the wares of the event's 93 vendors.
"Just make sure that you stay either clockwise or counterclockwise because you don't want to miss a thing," Janess said.
Wine enthusiasts also can enjoy a bite to eat from local restaurants, live music by the Lloyd Dobler Effect and lectures by professional winegrowers from across the country.
"I think it's an opportunity to get together with other people that enjoy wine and it can be an educational process for them," Peterson said.
A portion of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the Naperville Area Humane Society, the event's official charity.
Even after years of hosting the Naperville Wine Festival, Janess says his favorite part of the evening is around 7 p.m. "when the crowds really start to roll in, laughing and having a good time."
"At that point I know we're successful in putting on a great event," Janess said.
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