Lots of people. Lots of wine. Little inhibition.
This Saturday marked the Ninth Annual Decatur Wine Festival, held on the central square in Downtown Decatur. Under a beautiful blue sky, locals tasted a host of wines while slowly increasing their level of intoxication.
The Decatur Wine Festival prides itself on being metro-Atlanta’s largest outdoor wine festival, and rightfully so. The event’s 2,000 tickets, purchased for $32 each, sold out before the day of the festival. The proceeds from the event benefited the Decatur Arts Alliance, a group that brings the Decatur Arts Festival and other free arts events to the community every year.
This year, the wine festival showcased organic and sustainable wines, though they offered other domestic and international choices as well. In total, there were more than 400 different wines to taste — an impossibly large variety for a single person to consume in only the three hours of the event. Rest assured, attempts were made.
The event was limited to persons 21 and older, but despite the promise of bountiful amounts of alcohol, the festival still surprisingly lacked a strong representation of college students.
Most of the attendees were locals over the age of 30, with a heavy skew toward the slightly older crowd. Participants swirled red liquid in their glasses and inhaled whiffs of their wine choices. Most frequently, though, everyone was drinking — and asking for more.
The atmosphere was busy, with lines of eager attendees circling around Decatur Square waiting to get into the blocked-off area for the festival. Once inside, the event was crowded but not overly so. A relaxed sip here, another there and then on to the next table.
There were 50 tables set up in total, some with a dozen bottles of wine to choose from. Everyone was given a wine glass as they entered, along with a book listing the assortment of wines at each table to use for reference — and to designate the hits from the misses.
The wine-tasters spanned the spectrum from knowledgeable wine connoisseurs to those who just held up their wine glass and asked for more of whatever looked good. Some took their glasses and continued with their tasting, sitting on the steps of the DeKalb County Court House adjacent to the Square.
At the “Quality Wine and Spirits — Organic” table, I tried some organic red wine from Chile and an in international white wine, both of which poured from a box. One of the men serving wine at the organic table explained to me that organic wine does taste better than non-organic, but it is not simply because the grape-growers don’t use pesticide.
“The best fertilizer is a gardener’s bootprints,” he said, recalling an old proverb. Organically-grown fruits, such as grapes, require more one-on-one time with the farmers, which allows for a more taken-care-of plant, resulting in a better-tasting wine, he explained.
Local restaurants such as Capozzi’s, Farmstead 303, The Iberian Pig, Parker’s on Ponce and Bhojanic set up tables offering some of their dishes, a smart idea for all parties involved. For the restaurants, it was prime marketing. For the buzzed, it was a much needed break from the endless ebbs of merlot and sauvignon blanc. Live music by Nicole Chillemi Quartet and 7 Day Fool played in the background.
During my stint at the festival, I tried at least 20 different wines. My favorite wine of the day was Chronic Cellars Sofa King Suite wine, a sweet white wine offered at the “Prime Wine and Spirits” table. Towards the end, it was easier to lose count, but not only for me.
As the day went on, the volunteers pouring the wine started — most likely as a direct result of their corresponding imbibement — to pour a little more than a taste into each person’s glass.
What began as a few sips of each wine at the beginning of the day enjoyably accumulated into half-glasses of deliciousness by the event’s end, marking one of the more spirited Saturday afternoons I’ve had in a quite a while.
— Contact Christina White.