Winter Wine Festival changes in format, location

The 13th Annual Stanly County Winter Wine Festival be 12-5 p.m. Feb. 24 in downtown Albemarle.

This fundraiser is hosted by Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation (ADDC) and showcases the North Carolina vineyard industry.

To accommodate the growth of this event, the ADDC has moved the festival to a new location. Once held at Market Station, this year’s Stanly County Winter Wine Festival is moving up Main Street to be hosted in the heart of downtown Albemarle at participating businesses.

Several factors resulted in the venue change, according to organizers. Market Station has been at capacity of occupancy for the past two wine festivals. As this event continues to grow, so have the needs to accommodate vendors and guests.

“The logistics of setup at Market Station have become increasingly complicated as the Stanly County Winter Wine Festival continues to grow,” said Joy Almond, executive director of the ADDC and Main Street Manager for the City of Albemarle. “The cost for the tent rental and heaters needed to make Market Station usable for this event has doubled post-COVID. As the ADDC Board of Directors were considering other options to host this event, leveraging it to benefit downtown businesses was at the top of the list.”

In researching similar wine tasting events in the area, the ADDC consulted with staff at Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI), who hosts the annual “Wine About Winter” each February. The Salisbury event is a crawl-style format where guests stroll throughout downtown to sample wines within the stores and shop.

In addition to the new crawl-style format for the Stanly County Winter Wine Festival, the ADDC and the City of Albemarle will celebrate the soft opening of the newly constructed Courthouse Plaza on West Main Street near South Second Street. This public space will be utilized for guests to enjoy the festival, with music provided by DJ Dean Scott. Another outdoor space for guests to enjoy the festival is in the city-owned parking lot at First and West Main streets, with music provided by DJ Daniel Medley.

To better accommodate guests, two check-in locations will be provided to give quicker access to the festival. One is next to Courthouse Plaza at 119 W. Main St. The second guest check-in is at Uwharrie Brewing, 121 N. Third St. Guests must show their ID at check-in and must wear an armband to sample wine. Tokens will be distributed for guests to give to vineyards in exchange for samples. Samples must be finished before leaving each vineyard’s station.

Guests can still purchase bottled wine from vineyards, with a holding area provided at 119 W. Main St. for boxes and cases. Tote bags will be provided for guests to carry single bottle purchases.

Purchased wine consumed during the festival must be done so within the street closure area.

Uwharrie Brewing will celebrate its one-year anniversary during the festival, featuring Stony Mountain Vineyards, and food by Big City Bites. Food trucks Spudwings, Steve’s Comfort Cuisine and What-a-Burger #13 will also be set up within the festival area, and downtown restaurants Five Points Public House, GloryBeans CoffeeHouse, Hilltop Seafood and Courthouse Tavern and Table will be open to serve guests.

Other NC vineyards attending the Stanly County Winter Wine Festival are: Dennis Vineyards, Cabo Winery, Hazel Jean Vineyard, Uwharrie Vineyards, Rock of Ages Winery, Weathervane Winery, Douglas Vineyards and Native Vines Winery. Waldensian Wine and Nomad Wine Works are two new vineyards featured this year.

Artisan crafts and foods will also be for sale at participating downtown businesses, and more vendors are being added to the lineup.

Tickets are available online at www.stanlycountywinterwinefest.com and at GloryBeans CoffeeHouse, LiviBug’s Boutique and Make it Personal and Whiskey Eunoia in downtown Albemarle, and at McRae’s Jewelers in Norwood.

Advance tickets are $25. Admission is $30 the day of the event.