Queers, food, and wine form a perfect trifecta. This year there are more queer-focused and queer-led food and wine festivals than ever before.
Some festivals are capitalizing on LGBTQ people’s desire to be in community after two years of the pandemic and to help revitalize their communities. Some more established festivals are coming out of being on hiatus, staying with small events, or scaling up from virtual and small events to their pre-pandemic attendance.
Some events are unofficial gatherings alongside mainstream events, while others are mainstream food festivals where LGBTQ people are the masterminds at the helm.
Why are food and wine important to LGBTQ people? Gary Saperstein, owner of Out in the Vineyard, which marked its 10th anniversary in 2021, said, “We all have memories of our best meals, who we were with, where we were, what we ate, or what we drank, [and] our favorite dishes. It is all those elements together.”
“We are social, social creatures,” said Pitts, a self-described queer dyke who was the former executive director of the Utah Pride Festival. “I can’t tell you for sure if queer people are more social than others, but we do tend to love to get together with each other, break bread and enjoy libations, and just enjoy each other’s company and have a good time while doing it.”
Gay City News pulled together a guide of seven queer food and wine festivals ranging from one-day events to multi-day affairs so you can eat, drink, and be merry now into 2023.
Queer Wine Fest (Oregon)
Oregon’s first-ever Queer Wine Fest in the Willamette Valley kicks off Wine Country Pride on June 24 from 6-9 p.m. Guests will be able to sample 18 different queer-owned wineries and wines made by queer winemakers and winegrowers from Oregon, Washington, and California at the small event at queer woman-owned Remy Wines.
Gay Wine Weekend, California
Out in the Vineyard’s signature event, Gay Wine Weekend, is back and selling out fast. Its May event, Pink Saturday, attracted 235 rose wine lovers who tasted 25 different wines from a variety of wineries.
“People really are ready to be out, be together, [and] they want to celebrate,” Saperstein said.
More events might be added. Sign up for the OITV’s newsletter to stay up to date.
Oktoberfest (Unofficial LGBTQI Component), Germany
A royal wedding that became a festival known all over the world, Oktoberfest, doesn’t have any “official” LGBTQ events, but LGBTQ beer lovers can grab their steins and join the fun at these “unofficial” gay gatherings:
On September 19, gays randomly gather again at the same tent for the so-called “Rosl Monday.”
This year Tom on Tour introduced a new event, “Proud Wiesn,” reserving 500 seats at Armbrustschützenzelt on September 25. Tickets have not gone on sale yet, but you can sign up for their newsletter for updates.
The following day, September 26, LGBTQ Oktoberfest goers “unofficially” queer Fischer Vroni, reserving tables at the tent.
Pinot on the River, California
Pinot on the River returns to Santa Rosa’s historic square this fall. For more than 15 years, about 1,000 pinot lovers taste wines and sample food produced by 50 or more wineries from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the square.
“It’s like a big block party in Santa Rosa,” said gay winemaker and Roadhouse Winery owner Eric Hall, who also founded the festival. “You get a chance to try a lot of very fine wine. There are a lot of food options. It’s a very pleasant day.”
Ticket sales have not opened yet, but pinot lovers can RSVP on Facebook.
Provincetown Food & Wine Festival, Massachusetts
This year, the festival is being expanded to five days from four with a mixture of ticketed and nonticketed events.
Matthew King, the festival’s gay creator and event director, wants the “queer presence” to be known at the festival.
Last year’s four-day festival sold 800 tickets celebrating Tuscan food and wines with more than 300 wines poured by vintners and distributors at 12 events.
Key West Food & Wine Festival, Florida
January 25-29, 2023
Next year will be the 14th annual Key West Food & Wine Festival. The five-day festival’s 15 intimate events will focus on “Argentina.”
The festival’s dinners give that “real Key Westie” feel, said Mark A. Certonio, the gay executive director of the festival, who estimates about 1% of the festival’s attendees are LGBTQ.
Queer Food FEASTival, Utah
May 12, 2023
Utah’s first-ever queer food festival, FEASTival: A Celebration of Community and Abundance, hosted at Mountain West Hard Cider in Salt Lake City, saw 200 queer and ally foodies and libation lovers come out for the three-hour event on May 6.
“I think Salt Lake City could be very easily a queer foodie destination,” Pitts said. “We do have quite a few really wonderful restaurants” along with breweries and distilleries.
Pitts hopes the event “will be able to attract more people from beyond the state’s borders as well as beyond the city’s borders.”
Event organizers told Gay City News they are working to keep guests safe from COVID-19 and help restaurants recover from the pandemic’s impact. Travel safe and keep masking up and social distancing.