(Sept. 27, 2019) Around 13 Maryland wineries will provide an assortment of samples for wine aficionados in the Ocean City inlet parking lot during the 25th annual Wine on the Beach Festival, held today and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
About 130 different types of wine will be available for tasting as well as four microbrew beers. There will also be music and 45 vendors on hand.
Wine on the Beach Festival launched in 1994 as a vehicle to introduce the Maryland Wine industry to the Delmarva region and extend the beach season into the fall.
Since then, the inlet festival/beach party has become an annual tradition among family and friends who enjoy learning about Maryland wines, tasting new products and stocking up on their favorites.
“All these wineries have a lot of good wines that people don’t otherwise [notice] because they’re not in your local liquor store,” Christina Nokes, event coordinator, said.
St. Michaels, Layton’s Chance, Far Eastern Shore, Knob Hall, Cove Point, The Urban Winery and Bordeleau are some of the Maryland wineries scheduled to attend the fall festival along with a few craft breweries including Fat Tire, Landshark and Evolution.
“Each of these wineries bring about 10 different flavors,” Nokes said. “I’ve talked to a lot of [wineries] and they are gonna bring a couple extra truckloads of wine.”
In addition to wine, there will also be domestic beers like Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
New this year, there will also be craft beer and the trending White Claw, an alcoholic seltzer.
Last year, more than 8,000 people attended the event, and while Nokes was happy with the number, it might also be too many, as the event sold out of wine by 4 p.m. on Saturday.
If tickets have not been purchased in advance many people might be turned away.
“We have advertised that all year that if you don’t buy an advanced ticket and you get to the gate … we might have to shut the gate,” Nokes said.
The reason the gates might be closed early this year is because there is only a baker’s dozen of wineries expected to participate this year.
“These are mom and pop wineries,” Nokes said. “Many can’t leave their winery and come to Winefest because they don’t have anybody running their winery.”
Pat O’Brennan kicks off the live musical entertainment at the festival today, Friday, from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Bird Dog & the Road Kings will perform each day from 4-7 p.m. and 3 Penny Opera will take the stage on Saturday, from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
“[The bands] have been with us for a long time and the crowds love them,” Nokes said. “They like to keep the crowd dancing.”
Guests can shop from a wide variety of vendors, including the Hip Klip, Indigo Moon, LuLaRoe, Mick’s Gourmet Soups, Bamboo Pillows and Wild Raven Boutique.
One vender, BJ Holders, will also be selling a wine glass holder that can be worn around the neck for easy traveling.
Attendees also have the option to purchase wine by the glass, bottle or a case to drink at the event or to take home with them. A holding booth will be set up for people to leave their wine in while they peruse the festival.
Tickets for the festival cost $35 at the gate. General admission includes a souvenir wine glass, sampling tickets, and on-stage entertainment.
For nondrinkers, admission includes a commemorative wine glass and unlimited soft drinks from the designated driver location.
Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs.
Attendees younger than 21 must be accompanied by an adult. Children ages 13-20 get in for $15. Youth 12 and under are admitted free. Parents must sign a waiver at the gate.
For a full list of vendors, wineries, breweries and a discount coupon, visit www.winefest.com. Call 410-280-3306 for more information.