Thousands take a sip at Naperville Wine Fest
Summer hats, sunglasses, floral dresses and wines from all over the world were abundant at the 10th annual Naperville Wine Festival this weekend.
Organizers said they expected about 8,000 attendees this year, and a visit to the festival Saturday afternoon demonstrated they likely were on track.
White tents housing about 50 wine vendors — each sampling six wines — dotted a large field next to the Hotel Arista, at CityGate Centre, along with a Belgian beer tent, a live band playing relaxing music, two food trucks and vendors from local businesses.
Matt Minella, director of sales for inPLAY events, which organizes the fest, said this was the second year it was hosted at CityGate.
He said the warm weather, nice breeze and some cloud cover created a perfect atmosphere for the event.
"Whether you're 21 or 71, everybody can enjoy the event," Minella said. "Whether you know a lot about wine or you know just a little bit about wine, you can always learn something new. You can always try something different."
Naperville resident Vicki McLennon had not been to the festival since it was located at Naper Settlement, but she said she noticed there were more vendors and the tables were easier to access.
"It's a great place to try a bunch of different wines in one place," she said, adding she was on the hunt for some good white wine as well as a Cabernet.
"(I like being) able to talk to people and say, 'OK, what is (this wine) like? This is what I like, will I like that?' I think it's that ability to have a conversation with somebody who represents the wine."
Emily Newport, of St. Charles, works near the festival. She said when she saw a sign advertising the event, she knew immediately she wanted to attend.
"It's really fun," she said of the atmosphere soon after walking in. "It's a bit overwhelming. I don't know what to try first."
The crowd was as diverse as the wines, which came from Argentina, France, Italy, California and local wineries. One group of women in their early 20s said they were attending the festival as part of a bachelorette party. Yumiko Damashek of Japan said she decided to check out the event because she was staying at Hotel Arista.
"It's a nice variety of wines," she said, adding that it was more fun than indoor wine festivals she has attended in the past.
She had one complaint, though, which she mentioned with a smile on her face.
"I wish there were more food booths," she said. "I'm getting drunk already."
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