By Susan Hatten
Winefest. Any event blending the words wine + fest and you’ve captured my attention. Following my move to Des Moines in the summer of 2006, I quickly learned that Winefest was an experience offering so much more than drinking wine and “festing” with Des Moines socialites. By 2009, Sips & The City not only had become my favorite event, but also signaled that summer was here—and it was time to celebrate.
More than 10 years ago, Connie Wimer had a vision to add a cultural attraction to our Greater Des Moines landscape, one that would celebrate a very specific thing: wine. In 2003, there was no downtown sculpture park or a cohesive Western Gateway neighborhood; Jordan Creek Town Center was still being built; the East Village was a spotty array of shops; and Principal Park was still called Sec Taylor Stadium.
The Winefest mission is to “enrich the cultural and recreational landscape of metropolitan Des Moines.” The original Winefest took place at the Historical Building and consisted of two main events. Today, Winefest—which welcomes both aficionados and novices—draws more than 3,400 patrons over eight days of events held at various locations throughout the metro area. Nikki Syverson, Winefest’s director, has spurred even more growth and greater inclusion. And many people may not realize that Winefest has raised more than $375,000 for arts and culture nonprofits in Greater Des Moines.
Winefest has become so much more than a soiree of sipping and celebratory clinks. It also includes events focused on cuisine, art, music and more, each featuring outstanding wine, beer and bubbles. The 2014 event will welcome two master sommeliers, out of only 135 in the nation.
According to The Savvy Explorer, there are two “top” spirits festivals in June: Aspen Food & Wine Classic and the New Jersey Beer Festival. I’d like to challenge us to become listed among the best, brightest and bubbliest of all wine festivals in the country.
I currently serve on the Winefest board of directors, so clearly I’m passionate about this remarkable event and all that it offers for Greater Des Moines. I would encourage you to join us, and can guarantee that between the wine and the fest, you will not be disappointed.
(This year’s Winefest is May 31 – June 7, at varying locations throughout Greater Des Moines. More information can be found at www.winefestdesmoines.com).