On Saturday, I went to the Vintage Illinois Wine Festival with my husband and his dad, sister and her husband. We went a couple years ago, and were total amateurs – we just showed up ready to drink wine. This time we were a little more prepared, but I think we can do better next year.

So, here are my tips if you attend this or another large, outdoor wine festival.

  • Buy your tickets in advance online. It was $20 for admission, and you get a souvenier wine glass (which you use for your tastings), a booklet and pen to take notes, and 7 tasting tickets (which I believe is an extra ticket compared to buying at the festival). You can buy additional tickets at the festival. (The tastings were around an ounce and a half of wine, so 7 tastings probably equaled about a half a bottle of wine.)
  • The festival was 11am – 7pm on Saturday (with slightly shorter hours on Sunday). We were there from 12 – 5pm.
  • Wear sunscreen. And sunglasses. And layers. And pants with pockets. You can leave behind stuff on your chairs/blankets, but obviously don’t leave anything valuable unattended. And you want your hands free for drinking and taking notes.
  • Eat before you go. You should probably do that for any event that centers around alcohol. (Otherwise you’ll get in “trouble.”)
  • Bring food. Some groups went all out with their food – veggies & dip, cheese & sausage, cakes, baguettes, fruit and other snacks. Some of it was impressive and I wanted to make friends. We brought some zuccini bread, cookies and raisins (whatever we could scrounge from my in-laws kitchen before we got on the road). Good, but not a “best practice.” Coolers are allowed, grilling is only allowed in the parking area.
  • You can buy food, but this year, their food vendors were “Chicago Food Trucks!” Which translated to one and a half trucks (one truck didn’t have all the ingredients for half of their menu items until late in the day). So the one truck that was fully functional – Cheesies – had a realllllly long line. Which we waited in. For an hour. Delicious grilled cheeses though.
  • At a minimum, bring camp chairs and/or a blanket.
  • If you want to be like the cool kids, also bring a small camp table and a pop-up canopy. Maybe some playing cards.
  • If you have a wine-themed shirt, jewelry or flip flops – wear them. You’ll fit right in. (For the record, I do not own any of those items.)
  • Bring some kind of rolling cart or bag. We brought a “grandma” cart, which was handy for lugging the camp chairs in, and then lugging out all the bottles of wine we bought.
  • Share your samples (with your friends). Maximize your tasting.
  • If you have a well-behaved social dog, bring it. Lots of people did.
  • Stop by Two Girls and a Cupcake on the way home. YUM.

Vintage Illinois Wine Festival




Robert Wolff x2

The first time I met my now father-in-law, I was confused. Who was this average sized, blonde, blue-eyed cross between Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood? And where did my 6’4 guy come from? (They’re on a slight incline.)

Vintage Illinois Wine Festival

Waitin’ for cheese and carbs.




That point in the day when everyone is slightly drunk and totally happy.

Bras are so useful

Bras are handy.

Vintage Illinois Wine Festival

Delicious cupckaes.

And I even made a Vine!