If your ideal getaway consists of natural beauty, southern cooking, and unique architecture, then Florence should be the launching point for your next Alabama vacation. Foodies will be enamored with the variety and selection of restaurants. A few must-visit locations include Odette and 360 Grille. From the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Rosenbaum Home to the Victorian-style homes on Wood Avenue, those with an eye for design will love this destination.
The Florence Wine Fest is one of the leading late winter wine events in Alabama, and it will take place March 9-10 at Wilson Park North. This year’s event will feature samples of more than 200 wines from across the world. Those looking to bolster their wine collection can preorder a variety of vintages from The Carriage Wine and Market at a 20% discount. The event will also have food pairings from five favorite local restaurants including The Factory at Alabama Chanin and Rivertown Coffee Co. Attendees in search of a full glass of wine, or a craft beer should stop by the Equator Bar, and the Bubbly Tent will showcase a spectrum of champagne for sampling. Christopher-Joel Carter and Co. featuring Trevor Dodson will provide the live music throughout the event. Purchase of a VIP ticket includes access to the VIP Tasting Room and the VIP First Class Bar, as well as early access to tastings and pop-up eateries in the Main Tent. All paid entries will have the chance to enjoy special deals and events at local establishments. A portion of the event's proceeds will go to Raising the Bar, a community fund that provides professional experiences to students of the University of North Alabama. We interviewed Event Representative, Caleb Banks, to learn more about this annual celebration of wines from around the world.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
CB: This is the 3rd annual Florence Wine Fest.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
CB: We expect a sell-out crowd of 1,000 attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
CB: This is an adult event that's perfect for couples, groups of friends, and single folks alike.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
CB: The event will take place rain or shine. It's an annual celebration of wine, food, and community. Each March, attendees can explore more than 200 fantastic wines from around the globe and local food pairings from some of the Shoals' best chefs, all while soaking in the electric atmosphere of historic downtown Florence. Plus, ticket holders will enjoy special events and discounts all weekend long at many participating downtown businesses!
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
CB: The day kicks off with VIP early access admission at 1:00 pm when VIP ticket holders gain exclusive early access to the main tent that features 100+ superb wines from around the globe along with pop-up eateries featuring some of the Shoals' finest chefs. The Bubbly Tent and VIP Tasting room open at 2:00 pm. There will be a fabulous Champagne Kickoff party the night of Friday, March 9th. For more information about the activities, visit our website.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
CB: We have live music by Liberace competition winner, Christopher-Joel Carter and Co. featuring Trevor Dodson.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
CB: The Fest will feature five local pop-up eateries: Odette, Rivertown Coffee Co., The Factory at Alabama Chanin, 360 Grille, and Swampers Bar and Grille.
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
CB: This is an upscale outdoor tented event next to the always beautiful Wilson Park in downtown.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?
CB: There are tons of great hotels in the area, but we highly recommend taking advantage of the discounted festival lodging rates provided by the GunRunner Boutique Hotel (Use code "WINEFEST" for 25% off) and Marriott Shoals (special $129 rate).
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
CB: The event gives locals and visitors an opportunity to experience wines they likely would not have been exposed to otherwise. It's an educational experience, but you'll have so much fun, you won't even realize that you're learning.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
CB: Yes, it gives downtown Florence a significant boost in an otherwise uneventful time of the year. It brings hundreds of interesting people from all over the country together because of their love for good wine.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
CB: A portion of the proceeds will go to support Raising the Bar: A Community Fund for UNA. Raising the Bar provides University of North Alabama students with elevated professional experiences to prepare them for careers of excellence in the fields of culinary arts, hospitality management, fine wine and spirits, fashion, and other creative professions.
For more information about the Florence Wine Fest, please visit the event website.