Danelle’s guide to Winefest

Winefest Selfie
We’re adorable, right?

We love attending Winefest. For the uninitiated, Winefest is an all-inclusive event that takes place each February in Calgary (and Edmonton). One ticket buys you entry to the venue, as much wine as you can drink, free food nibbles and a Reidel wine glass to take home.

The first year, we did the event all wrong – so I thought it would be beneficial to write a primer for those who’ve never been before.

Don’t drive

The first year we thought we’d be able to have a few samples and head home, so we parked our vehicle at the venue. Huge mistake. We ended up leaving the car there overnight, cabbing home and picking it up the next morning. Get a ride or take a Car2Go – skip the car.

Have a plan

We went in like a couple of rhinos in a china shop the first year – we made it through about half the vendors before we had to call it a night. We missed a lot. Now, we take a look at the booth listing before we head to the event, circle the vendors we want to visit in our guide and try to be strategic about hitting up the booths we’re truly interested in. That doesn’t mean we won’t visit booths that catch our eye while we’re there, but at least we’re not trying to go to every single one (you can’t – it’s a certainty), and we visit the ones we really want to. A little planning ahead goes a long way.

Winefest booklet
This year’s plan – in hindsight, we would have chopped this down by another five booths

Pack smart

You’ll probably move fast and visit a lot of booths. The less you bring with you, the less likely you are to lose something. This includes pens, coats, keys, etc. Also, you’ll do quite a bit of wandering around, and not all of it sober, so wear shoes you can easily stand and walk in for more than three hours – there are high-top tables but no chairs.

Arrive early

Parking is usually backed up and hard to find, plus coat check is generally lined up (if you’re using it). Arrive at least 15 minutes early so that you can rush the vendors as soon as doors open – you want to make the most of your time! They’ll kick you out right at the end of your session.

Share sips

Winefest Gigglewater
We liked this Italian bubbly more than we thought

If you’re going with a spouse, or not squeamish about sharing a glass with your friend, get different wines at a booth. You don’t need more than a couple of sips to get the idea of whether you like a particular wine, and most booths pour an entire ounce. We each pick one we’re interested in and switch off glasses – you try more and drink less. Also, it’s a personal choice, but feel free to spit some, all or nothing – the same goes for pouring out glasses of wine you don’t like.

Stay hydrated

Rinsing out your glass with the water jugs on the table? Why pour it? Drink it! It slows down your drinking and replenishes your body. Staying hydrated is essential to feeling better the next day.

Find some nibbles

There are a bunch of food vendors, as well as snacks offered by the venue – don’t pass them up. Not only are they delicious, but it gives you a break from drinking wine and getting tipsy (or drunk) too fast.


Have you ever been to Winefest? Any other tips you’d like to add?


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