Riverwalk Wine Festival

By on 12 October, 2010 in Fun with 3 Comments

It was a Saturday in October in the South, a date packed with SEC football matchups and rivalries. What right-minded person wouldn’t be fired up about televised battles on the gridiron? With the state’s two premier college football teams highly-ranked and playing out-of-state, we planned to be glued to the television just like the rest of the masses. But first, we did something fun, outdoors, and, if you believe the research, more healthy than watching football.

Saturday’s Riverwalk Wine Festival was a beautiful showcase for one of the city’s nicest features. After decades of being sort of an afterthought, the city’s beautiful river is finally being used for proper events, things that get people downtown for reasons other than work. It always puzzles our friends from other countries why American cities make such poor use of their natural resources. Rivers were usually the reason why a city was built at a particular location, but as roads surpassed waterways, many city riverfronts, including Montgomery’s, were left to decay.

Smart city planners and lawmakers began to correct this some years ago and now we’ve got dragon boat races and all sorts of other things percolating at the city’s lovely riverfront facilities.

When you’re down by the river on a warm fall day, surrounded by happy people chatting and drinking delicious wines, you are reminded that you live in a beautiful and cosmopolitan town. There’s so much that makes Montgomery a nice place to live. It’s diverse, relaxed and friendly. People talk to each other easily here and are happy to share opinions, advice, and even shade when it’s hard to find in unseasonable warmth.

The festival started with a bag that contained a baguette, an etched wine glass and a list of wines available at the various tents. The idea was to go through and check the ones you liked and tried. We were not so good at this process, but were impressed by the diligence of many who managed to juggle pencil, paper, wine glass and cheese with equal aplomb. The festival was organized into a series of tents, each featuring generous sommeliers who weren’t just pouring wine – they were also teaching us about it. We learned that we loved a wine we’d never heard of, called Vinho Verde. We tasted an amazing Prosecco. We tried a Chardonnay that, seriously, was the best either of us had ever had. We were impressed by the way the crowd organized itself to move along and create space for everyone at the tents. And we were almost overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of wines available for tasting. If there weren’t hundreds, it sure seemed like it. In a good way.

All along the route we heard stories (“This winemaker, seriously, is crazy. But he makes some great wine.”) and exchanged opinions with strangers (“Seriously, you must try this one.”). Many of those opinions were about wine. But lots were about football. Around the fifth or sixth tent we realized that we might be participating in one of the most sophisticated tailgating events ever produced. This was verified when we stopped for some much-needed shade and got into a discussion that involved much waving around of crumpled betting matrices.

Of course, it’s a Saturday in Alabama. Of course people are talking football. It’s just that they’re also doing this while discussing the merits of Malbecs, Chardonnays and Cabs. This is so Montgomery, when you think about it – we eagerly mix high and low culture here. We can be sophisticated while getting ready to scream profanities at a television. And we know how to have a good time, which everyone had on Saturday, no matter how the games shook out in the end.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Tara L says:

    We had a fantastic time at the wine tasting. We were hesitant about the event since often new events have a lot of kinks to work out, but for the first year, I think it went great! We loved the bag o’ goodies. The wine glass was so nice – usually tastings just give you little glasses that you will probably never use again. This has become my new favorite wine glass! And the baguette -nice touch!

    We especially liked the buying process. It would have been a pain to buy wine and lug it out to our car. It was nice to just drop off an order sheet and pick up the wine later! Plus, it was a little like Christmas since we had forgotten what we ordered 🙂

    The biggest frustration was the weather – of course we had to have record highs this day! I normally prefer red wines but it was just not a day to taste reds. Instead, we found excellent whites to enjoy. There were a few vendors that didn’t know what they were talking about (apparently have no idea what “dry” means) but that happens at most wine tastings. Overall, the vendors were great.

    And, this event was a steal for only $25! We loved that we could bring a picnic basket, sit back with some wine, and people watch. Good times 🙂 Already looking forward to next year!

  2. michelle says:

    Hi im thinking about coming to this event. Is there a BeD AND breakfast CLOSE BY?

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