The wine festival was founded in 1991 to promote the wine industry and raise funds for local charities. Each year, it’s gotten bigger and better, and so has its charitable giving. Over the course of more than two decades, the annual celebration has donated more than $3.9 million to local charities across the region. Today, the wine festival is recognized as one of the largest wine events in the entire country.
The Cincinnati International Wine Festival increases in winery participation, events and attendance each year; like a fine wine, it seems to get better with age. Each year, as participation grows, so does the nonprofit’s ability to distribute grants to Greater Cincinnati area programs that support the arts, education, health and human services.
The festival itself is made up of four prominent events: Winery Dinners, Grand Tastings, a Charity Auction and Luncheon, and the annual Russ Wiles Memorial Golf Tournament. These events don’t just celebrate wine. They also foster community and charity in the process.
This year’s line-up of Winery Dinners is filling up fast, but tickets to many of the special events are still up for grabs. The dinners celebrate cooking and winemaking as art, and aim to combine the two to create perfect pairings that are sure to please any palate. The popular dinners showcase the skills of visiting winemakers from around the world alongside the area’s finest chefs. Together, the chefs and winemakers work together to create what the Wine Festival describes as a harmonious experience filled with fine wine and masterful cuisine.
Reserve your seat at the table of a very special Winery Dinner celebrating a special evening with 2014 honorary chair Leonardo LoCasio, the founder of Winebow, Inc. at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Plaza’s Orchids at the Palm Court on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. ($175)
Wineries and some of the Cincinnati area’s most beloved restaurants team up all across the city on Thursday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. Reserve your seat at the table for some serious wining and dining at the following restaurants:
The festivities continue with The Wine Festival’s main event: the 2014 Grand Tastings, which take place March 7 and 8 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. More than 700 wines from more than 100 wineries are available to sample as you enjoy live music, delicious food and a silent auction.
The Grand Tastings are the centerpiece of the Cincinnati International Wine Festival as they showcase new, rare and exciting wines from around the world. Whether you're a seasoned expert or an intrigued beginner, winemakers and winery representatives welcome you as they mix useful knowledge with exquisite samples of their art.
This year, access to the special tasting room will give you VIP access to seven tastes of high-end wines an hour prior to each night’s Grand Tasting at the Grand Ballrooms of the Duke Energy Center. ($40 prior to the event, $45 at the door. Tickets the special tasting room are only available with the purchase of a Grand Tasting ticket.)
After the special tastings room closes its doors, the celebratory Grand Tastings take center stage at the Duke Energy Center’s Grand Ballrooms on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening:
Charity Auction and Luncheon
Continue your celebration with Silent and Live Auctions at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza’s Hall of Mirrors on Saturday, March 8. The auctions boast a phenomenal catalog of limited-release bottles, winemaker-signed grand format bottles, rare wines coaxed from the cellars of notable Cincinnatians, chef's table dining opportunities at exclusive Cincinnati homes, fantastic trips, wine cellar tours, and more.
Afterward, experience a luncheon filled with savory cuisine from the Hilton Netherland’s Chef Todd Kelly paired with incredible wines presented by winemakers and winery principals from across the country.
The charity auction and luncheon will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a reception, silent auction, and live auction lot preview. At 11 a.m. the live auction will begin, followed by the winery luncheon. Tickets to the reception, auctions and luncheon are $125.
The Russ Wiles Memorial Golf Tournament
The festival might only last a few short days this March, but the celebration and charitable giving continues in June as the Wine Festival promises a tournament unlike any other. This summer, Russ Wiles Memorial 2013 Honorary Chair Dan Temming hosts a golf outing at TPC River's Bend. Enjoy wines from around the world at 5 holes during play along with food provided by some of Cincinnati's finest restaurants.
The day kicks off with a Dom Perignon toast and a shotgun start. 36 foursomes will compete in a scramble format tournament where the 3 winning teams will take home large-format bottles of wine. Golfers will also be eligible to win amazing prizes when they compete in the Closest to Pin Shootout, Hole-in-One Contest, Putting Contest and the Skins game. An After Party will then be held at the end of play where live music, food and drinks will be served under beautiful tents overlooking the 18th green. As a special thank you for supporting our Cincinnati charities, tee gifts will also be presented.
Organizations Benefiting from the Cincinnati International Wine Festival’s Proceeds
Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
The Betts House, located in the Betts-Longworth Historic District in the West End, is the oldest surviving brick building in Cincinnati. Built in 1804, it opened to the public as a museum in 1996. And their current exhibit, Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer: The Architectural Legacy of Cincinnati Breweries, examines the tunnels, breweries, buildings and people that made Cincinnati one of the leaders of the 19th century brewing industry through photos, charts, narratives, technology and more. The show has been extended until March 27, and the house is featuring several beer-related events to close out its run.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Betts House will host a cooking class, Cooking with Beer! Join chef Stefan Skirtz from Findlay Market's S&J Bakery and Cafe as he demonstrates how to utilize beer in your cooking, particularly Christian Moerlein brews. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Free with museum entry ($2). The Betts House, 416 Clark St., West End, thebettshouse.org.
And then from 5-10 p.m. Feb. 7 and noon-8 p.m. Feb. 8, take a tour of the Listermann Brewing Company in Evanston (1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com) to support the Betts House. Explore the inner-workings of the brewery, see some panels from the Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer display and support the mission of the house. Tour is $5 per person with proceeds going to the Betts House. More details here.
One hundred percent of the sales of the bakery on Saturday will benefit ArtWorks and their youth development programs this summer.
“Breadsmith is committed to giving back to the community that we live and work in,” Ward Bahlman, owner of the Breadsmith and resident of Cincinnati, says in a press release. “We want to celebrate our new store by supporting the worthwhile projects of ArtWorks which is doing so much for our community’s landscape.”
Tamara Harkavy, the founder, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks added, “ArtWorks is grateful to Breadsmith for donating their sales to our Adopt-an-Apprentice campaign that will directly support the 120 teen apprentices we’ll hire this summer to work on ten new community murals and other creative projects.”
The fundraising event for ArtWorks will also include behind-the-scenes tours and free samples of Breadsmith's award-winning breads, muffins and sweets. Customers will get a look at the European-style interior design which allows them to see the “hand-made, hearth-baked” Breadsmith process.
For more information visit artworkscincinnati.org.