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Uncorked: Wine festivals abound in celebration of harvest

Festival of the Vine will be held next weekend in downtown Geneva. The Wine Tent will offer a selection of 17 wines.
Festival of the Vine will be held next weekend in downtown Geneva. The Wine Tent will offer a selection of 17 wines.

The seasonal change from summer to fall has long been my favorite.

Nature’s growing season goes out in a brilliant display of burning glory, comfortable sleeping weather and an expanded wardrobe also are great perks. But, perhaps the best thing about fall is the various wine festivals centered around the celebration of harvest.

Plenty of great options await food and wine enthusiasts.

Wine festival spotlight

Geneva’s quaint downtown turns into a bustling epicenter of food and wine delights once a year. The 32nd annual Festival of the Vine will be held Sept. 6 though 8. It’s a short ride east for a must-attend fall event.

Located on the corner of Fourth and State streets, the Flavor Fare offers samples of the specialties of Geneva’s finest restaurants. It is a must-visit for its eclectic diversity and high quality food. It’s conveniently located next to the Wine Tent, which will have a selection of 17 wines.

“There’s always something new at the Flavor Fare,” said Geneva Chamber of Commerce Communications Director Laura Rush. “There’s a wonderful mix of delicacies. There’s ethnic variety, sweet, savory and salty food. There really is something for everyone.”

The entire downtown transforms during the weekend. The lawn of the Old Courthouse on South Third Street hosts the garden market, arts and craft show and the children’s activities – which are sponsored by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and feature balloon and sand art. The flowers available at the market are always striking.

Live music and entertainment is available every day. While a stroll through the picturesque streets yields a versatile collection of intriguing businesses and restaurants, it’s the social aspect Rush enjoys the most.

“We love to see different restaurants and shops join in on the weekend activities,” she said. “Everyone is just so happy at the event to get out and see so many people they know.”

For more information, visit

Where to go

• Cave Day: Crush 2013 at August Hill Winery, 106 Mill St., Utica; 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sept. 1; $50;

A glimpse at the inner works of August Hill Winery features a trolley ride from the tasting room to the winery and caves. The caves are below the vineyard and 60 degree temperatures await. If you are headed out for the tour on Sunday, be sure to bring a long-sleeved shirt.

Light snacks and a tastings are included.

“Harvest is the most exciting time of the season,” August Hill marketing manager Susanne Bullock said. “Cave Day is a great way to educate customers on the inner workings of the winery and get a rare glimpse into our caves.”

• 10th annual Mokena Food and Wine Festival; noon to 6 p.m. Sep. 14; $25 preorder, $30 door;

The McGoveney-Yunker Homestead provides the backdrop for culinary creations, wine, artisans and live music to shine.

“It’s really a unique setting with an orchard and historic buildings,” co-chairman and founder Nick Nelson said. “We wanted to do something different that hadn’t been done in the area. What we’ve done is highlight the local restaurants, specialty stores and businesses into one event where people can meet.”

A barn will host an arts showcase and feature paintings, pottery and jewelry from local artisans. Live music also will be featured from the Illinois Philharmonic, an 18-piece jazz band, and other local musicians. 

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at 

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