Wine lovers in search of a smooth, balanced and harmonious taste on their palates found it at the 11th annual Naperville Wine Festival at the CityGate Centre on Friday and Saturday.
More than 50 wineries poured samples of their signature wines, which gave ready-to-learn wine connoisseurs a chance to discover new varietals grown in vineyards from around the world.
Pat and Rick Warren, of Warrenville, sampled a cabernet sauvignon from the Cass Winery in California when they decided a getaway trip to the estate wineries on the west coast was in order.
“We have been to Disneyland, our now new vacation destination is Paso Robles,” Rick Warren said.
Beverly Cass of Cass Winery said the owners of Pomar Junction in Templeton, Calif., are family friends they were helping out at the festival.
“We are helping with the pouring to bring their wines to Naperville. They are in harvest and couldn’t leave the vineyards,” Cass said.
Raul Vazquez, of Elgin, liked the fruitiness of a peach wine from a vineyard in St. James, Mo.
“I am not reluctant to try the sweet wines,” he said. “That is the beauty of this festival, you can taste before bringing a case of wine home.”
“Our wine is light and crisp, like biting into an actual peach,” said Onna Bjork of St. James Winery. “Some of the sweet fruit wines have fillers, but ours are 100 percent proof.”
Bjork said no one personality-type gravitates to dessert wines for an after-dinner drink.
“You don’t have to be bubbly and sweet to like our wines. We have sold our wines to people who are primarily whiskey and beer drinkers,” she said.
“A dessert wine is refreshing on a summer day and a nice change from the traditional white or red,” said Corrine Vittori, of Chicago, sampling one of the 342 wines available this year.
“The wine tastes better if you swirl the glass and then tip the glass back,” said Jeff Grosskopf of Geneva. “This cabernet is smooth and lingers nicely on the tongue.”
The masters of wine recommended the novice wine drinkers avoid “palate fatigue” in between drinking whites and red wines by sipping the effervescence of a sparkling wine to freshen the taste.
Wine expert Jeff Faber of Opolo Winery, in Paso Robles, told a group of taste-testers huddled around his booth that they don’t have to know everything about wine to have fun.
“This is supposed to be a festival, not a lecture to bore you,” Faber said. “The white wines we produce are all smooth and meant to be buddies, drinks that you hang out with,” he said. “Our Mt. Zinfandel is our high octane date night party wine.”
Neighborhood friends Linda Myers, Abra Friess and Michelle Hrubesky of Naperville met one another at the festival and began enjoying a conversation while sipping wine.
“The wine is delicious,” Myers said.
The festival also featured different kinds of beer, including ones from Goose Island Brewery in Chicago.
“We decided this year to get our beer first and then taste the wine,” said Shellie Champion, of Plainfield, who came with her fiancé Scott Jarus. “This event lets you experiment outside of the box and try something I would not normally buy at the store.”