The Largest Wine Festival in the Southwest Goes Down This September in Grapevine, Texas

Put your grape-stomping skills to the test.

GrapeFest is a celebration of all things wine. | Photo courtesy of GrapeFest
GrapeFest is a celebration of all things wine. | Photo courtesy of GrapeFest

The population of Grapevine, Texas hovers right above 50,000. But come mid-September, the number of people in Grapevine swells to around 200,000 over four days, as locals and visitors congregate for GrapeFest, a celebration of all things wine. It’s the largest wine festival in the Southwest, drawing people from all over the state and further afield, who come for wine tastings, live music, vendors selling local foods and gifts, grape-stomping competitions, charcuterie workshops, and other ways to pass the time with a glass in hand.

The 37th annual event takes place September 14 through 17. Admission is free on Thursday and until 5 pm on Friday. After that, it’s just $10 to get in, or $20 for a weekend pass. A general admission ticket gets you access to tastings, music, and food, and that’s the easiest way to dip a toe into the wine-soaked water if it’s your first time attending. But many of the individual events requiring separate tickets are well-worth the additional fee.

The People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic, the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the United States, is where you can sample a variety of Texas wines across 10 categories and levy your judgments. The Champagne Cork Shoot-Off sees participants popping corks for distance and accuracy, and the Charcuterie Board Workshop includes tips on pairing wine with food and making your own top-notch meat-and-cheese boards. Take a look at the schedule to see which events interest you most, then plan accordingly.

Live music on four stages provides a soundtrack to your visit. Country star and songwriter David Lee Murphy and pop vocalists Carnie and Wendy Wilson of Wilson Phillips fame will headline.

This year’s festival introduces a partnership with Grapevine’s newest sister city: Barossa, Australia. Though situated thousands of miles apart, Grapevine and the Barossa Valley share a similar history and heritage, both settlements and agricultural mainstays back in the 1800s. To celebrate the union, the event will feature guest wineries from Barossa, and the Barossa Wine Walkabout will guide attendees through flights of wine from the Barossa region.

There’s a lot happening at GrapeFest, but attending the festival also means taking a trip to Grapevine. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the road.

The annual grape-stomping competition.
The annual grape-stomping competition. | Photo courtesy of GrapeFest

Drive time:

30 minutes from Dallas.
3 hours from Austin.
4 hours from Houston.

Where to stay in Grapevine:

When wine is flowing, it’s best to stay overnight. And a great place to rest your head in Grapevine is Hotel Vin. The Autograph Collection property is the only boutique hotel in the city, plus it’s situated next to the historic Main Street train station and vintage railroad, and it provides easy access to GrapeFest events.

Other options include the mega resort Gaylord Texan or the family-friendly Great Wolf Lodge, which has an indoor waterpark. There’s also a handful of reliable chains from brands like Hilton, Hyatt, and Embassy Suites.

Where to eat and drink in Grapevine:

You’ll have plenty of eating and drinking opportunities within GrapeFest: You can’t walk 10 feet without tripping over a wine tasting, and food vendors hawk festival foods like corn dogs and funnel cakes. When you want to break away from the crowds, there are plenty of comfortable spots to grab a bite. For starters, historic downtown Grapevine is loaded with restaurants and wine tasting rooms, so you should take a stroll to see what stands out.

Back at Hotel Vin, the attractive Bacchus Kitchen + Bar turns local ingredients into Euro-Mediterranean cuisine, with dishes like Mussels Meuniere, Crispy Spinach Gnocchi, and a dry-aged ribeye with garlic confit and red wine jus. Magnum, a hidden bar tucked behind a telephone booth, pours craft cocktails and nightcaps. And the property’s newest concept, CaveSociety, is an underground wine cave with a rotating menu of hard-to-find wines served by the glass.

If you’re traveling with an indecisive group, Harvest Hall, a food hall with eight restaurants and two bars, covers a lot of bases. Choose your own adventure from a selection that includes Italian, Chinese, Latin fusion, Southern, and more.

If you need a break from wine, head to Hop & Sting Brewing Co. to sample some local beers and to grab lunch at Vaquero’s Texas Bar-B-Q, a food truck that pops up Thursday through Sunday to sling some of the best brisket and birria tacos in town.

More things to do in Grapevine:

Grapevine isn’t shy on attractions, so you might as well stick around to partake in a few more activities outside of GrapeFest. The city is homebase for the new Meow Wolf, the wildly popular immersive art experience that turned a portion of the Grapevine Mills mall into a mysterious house with surprises around every corner. Legoland Discovery Center is just next door, and that’s where kids (and kids at heart) can build with more than two million Lego bricks, ride rides, and play interactive games.

If you’d rather get outdoors, Lake Grapevine—set on 8,000 acres—is a prime destination for boating, waterskiing, windsurfing, and fishing. You can also camp on its shores, or explore the nine miles of wilderness trails on foot or by bike. After four days of food and wine, a little exercise couldn't hurt.

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Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for publications including the Dallas Morning NewsEater, ForbesInsideHook and Travel + Leisure. Follow him @kevinrgray.