Are you dreading the frigid weather and looking for a wine festival to liven up your winter? You’re not alone. In recent years, a number of winter wine festivals have been established for wine enthusiasts just like you. From the Southwest to the Northeast, wine festivals in the winter are happening all over, with one of the top events being the Winter Wine Festival on the small island of New Castle, one of the first settlements in New Hampshire.
The 2019 event will take place from January 18 through February 17 at the historic Wentworth by the Sea Hotel. The event will allow guests to sample premium wines from around the world in a beautiful coastal winter setting. Organizers of the 2019 Winter Wine Festival have released details about a number of events and activities.
The following events offer just a sample of all that the 2019 Winter Wine Festival has to offer. The setting alone is reason enough to check out this unique wine festival, which stands out as one of the few island wine festivals in the country.
Grand Vintner’s Dinners
This year’s Winter Wine Festival will include four Grand Vintner’s Dinners. With presidential-style service, these four-courses dinners begin with passed hors-d’oeuvres and include exquisite food accompanied by different wines each night.
This year’s first dinner will feature wines from Kendall Jackson presented by Randy Ullom, senior vice president and winemaster at the California wine giant. The second dinner this year will give guests the opportunity to sample wines from Dry Creek Vineyard alongside Tim Bell, who serves as winemaker at Dry Creek. The final two dinners will feature wines presented by Geoff Whitman of the John Anthony Family of Wines and Dan Campbell of Caymus Vineyards, respectively.
The 2019 Winter Wine Festival will also include two Big Tastings, one on January 18 and another on February 15. These will take place in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom and will include wines from both the Old World and the New World, including sparkling and dessert wines. The events will also include stations featuring teams of chefs from SALT, a restaurant in Portsmouth that preserves the area’s history while incorporating contemporary style.
At the Big Tastings, guests can visit various wine and food stations to sample a variety of cheeses, meats, and antipasto dishes while enjoying the jazz stylings of musician Chris Klaxton. The New England native plays multiple instruments and holds degrees in classical and jazz trumpet. In 2015 he formed OURBIGBAND, a New England eight-person ensemble, which collaborated on a project with the widely acclaimed composer and trumpet player Dave Douglas in 2016. With outstanding wine, diverse culinary creations, and jazz by Klaxton, the Big Tastings stand out as a highlight of the 2019 Winter Wine Festival.
The festival also features a special event dedicated to seafood lovers. Named Shell-Shocked, this oyster and wine event will take place in the SALT lounge on Friday, February 1. Taken from ice-cold Maine water in Spinney Creek, the oysters are served to suit all kinds of palates, including raw on the half shell, roasted, grilled, fried, Rockefeller’d, and casino’d.
However you choose to eat them, these oysters offer a full, rich flavor in the winter and pair well with the variety of wines, from Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir and Gavi, as well as various sparkling wines. These wines are known to bring out the natural minerality and briny flavor of the oysters.
Bubbles and Jazz Brunches
Although the Wentworth by the Sea hosts Sunday brunches throughout the year, the hotel spruces up its brunch during the Winter Wine Festival. These brunches feature high-end sparkling wines from various regions. This year’s Bubbles and Jazz Brunches will feature various sparkling wines from Italy as well as the Catalonia region of Spain.
The Winter Wine Festival will also include a wine education event led by David Turcan on Friday, February 8. Having grown up in the Provence region of France, Turcan possesses a deep understanding of winemaking and the wine industry. In addition to holding a degree in project management and chemistry, he earned an MBA in international wine and spirits trade from the Business School of Burgundy. Further, he worked for wineries in the Languedoc region and in the Rhone Valley and eventually moved to the US to handle imports for Gabriel Meffre, a wine producer in the Rhone Valley.
Guests who choose to sign up for this educational event will not only learn about winemaking but they will sample wines from the LUX Wines portfolio, which David Turcan has managed since 2014.