Do you like wine? If so, Grapevine might be a little slice of heaven this weekend.
Grapefest – the city's annual celebration of reds, whites, rosés and everything in between – turns 30 this year, and for the first time international wineries are joining the party.
"You think that the Texas wine industry is a fledgling industry, but it's actually not. It's been around for a long time and you're just getting better and better at it. You're giving us a run for our money," said Stuart Bourne, owner of Sould Growers, a winery from Australia.
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Several wineries from the Barossa Valley in Australia join others from California and Texas at this year's festival, evidence of the festival's growth and the increase in wine production in Texas.
"It's hard to believe that you would ever use the word 'last' and the great state of Texas in the same sentence. We were last in the nation, now we're fifth in number of gallons produced, number of wineries," said Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery.
Bonarrigo has been pouring wine at Grapefest since the first celebration 30 years ago. He said the increase in production goes part and parcel with the rising interest in wine across the country and in Texas.
"In our first year people would come to our table and say, 'I'd like a red wine,'" he said. "Now they say, 'I want a petit verdot.' They know wine now."
The festivities got underway Thursday with the People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic. Hundreds of people descended on a large pavilion ready to sample a variety of reds and whites. An estimated 260,000 people will visit the four-day festival.
"Texas is a big state and we like to sell wine, and this is a great place to showcase our wines," said Tony Lulling, from Firestone Vineyards in California. Lulling said he always associated whiskey with Texas, not wine.
What began in 1986 is now the largest wine festival in the southwest, and Bourne said winemakers in Australia and around the world are taking notice.
"Texas gets it, so when we bring our wines out – our premium quality wines – you get it," he said. "The feedback I've been getting today has been awesome. People want to engage with Australia and the regions of Australia."
For more information, visit: http://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest/.
The festival is located along Main Street between Northwest Highway and Dove Loop Road, and admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children. Complimentary shuttles are available from the parking lots, and there will be signs to guide drivers.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic:
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; awards presentation 5 p.m.
GrapeStomp, every half hour:
Sunday, Sept. 18, 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.