Over 20 wineries, food, shopping, music, a day of fun in a cute town, the Powhatan Festival of the Grape has all the makings of a perfect Fall day. Taking place on Saturday, October 6, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Powhatan’s Historic Courthouse Village, the festival is celebrating its 16th year and is certain to be packed with all sorts of fun. Haven’t gone before? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
1. Plan Transportation Ahead of Time
From the Museum District to the wine festival is about a 45-minute drive—not exactly something you want to be doing after one too many glasses of wine, so bribe a friend who doesn’t like vino or schedule an Uber to make sure you have a ride to and from the festival. Gathering a few friends and splitting the cost will not only be safer, but will make the day feel more special. If you do decide to drive, you’ll most likely park in a field lot and take a shuttle to the festival, so don’t plan on going back and forth to your car a ton of times throughout the day.
2. Wear Something Comfortable But Cute
The event is totally outdoors and there are a few areas for sitting, but plan to stand for most of the day. So I’d wear a sundress you can sit on a curb in without flashing any passersby or jeans and a cute top (come on, you know you’re going to taste a few glasses of wine and start sending Snaps so you better look good). Shoes are important. I am obsessed with Vionic shoes for occasions such as this one—podiatrist approved, comfortable, and attractive. Yes please! Or, a trusty pair of cowboy boots is also always a good idea. Before you go, check out my guide to sweat-free makeup for options that will last all day.
3. Arrive Early to Taste Wine
As with most Richmond events, the Powhatan Festival of the Grape gets more crowded as the day goes on, so arriving at the beginning means you’ll get to taste more wine before the masses show up. I always enjoy having a chance to taste at a more leisurely pace and really talk with the people working the tents before the lines get too long.
4. Don’t Miss Breweries and Distilleries
For the first time this year, the Powhatan Festival of the Grape will also host breweries and distilleries. Make sure to look for Belle Isle Craft Spirits, Virago Spirits, Fine Creek Brewing, and Three Crosses Distilling Co.
5. Eat Breakfast and Lunch
First off, please eat before you go. This might be the day not to worry about your super light protein shake and to go for something a little more substantial. Why not have your friends over for bagels and eggs before you hit the road? And during the festival, take a break and visit the food vendors. Your liver will thank you on Sunday.
6. Don’t Try to Taste Every Wine
I know, I know, it’s tempting, and I’m sorry to shatter your Cabernet-soaked fantasies, but trying to sample every single wine at the Powhatan Festival of the Grape is a recipe for disaster. This doesn’t mean you can’t visit every tent, but don’t be afraid to skip styles you know you don’t like. Sweet wines don’t agree with you? Forget them and the stomach ache. Similarly, don’t be afraid to use the dump buckets. They are there for a reason and no one will be offended if you ditch a wine you don’t love—you’re there to taste new wines and discover new favorites. Everyone knows sometimes that involves finding wines you don’t like, too. Also, most wineries sell glasses and open bottles. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from sampling and relaxing with a glass or bottle of wine while watching the crowds wander (or stumble!) by.
7. Sample Something New
While you shouldn’t feel pressured to try every wine, you should try some new styles. This is your chance to branch out without wasting any money on a full glass you don’t like. Do you normally only drink red wines? Sample that award-winning Chardonnay the winery with the Cabernet Franc you’re loving is raving about. Not usually a fan of sweet wines? Try a port or Vidal Blanc—who knows you just might enjoy it.
8. Later in the Day, Buy Bottles
Once the Powhatan Festival of the Grape gets crowded later in the day, consider skipping the tasting lines and buying bottles. If you go with a group, you can buy a bottle or two of wine at a winery, share it, and still get to sample some different varietals from different places. Sure, you do have to buy the wine, but you also get to skip the crowds, bumping, and pressure to chug those sips quickly. I think you will also feel better the next day.
9. Drink Water
I’m really not trying to be your mom with the reminders to eat and drink, but no one wants to be the drunk chick at the wine festival, so please please hydrate. You can bring one sealed bottle of water into the festival. Drink one on the way, then drink your sealed one and two more in there, and at least one more on the way home. I figure if I tell you to try for that, maybe you’ll at least do half?
10. Stop and Listen to the Music
The Powhatan Festival of the Grape always features fun bands throughout the day. Don’t miss your chance to kick back and enjoy a fun time with these talented musicians.
11. Shop, Shop, Shop
There are also art, photography, jewelry, pottery, wood, fiber, beauty product, glass, pet, and packaged food vendors for your browsing pleasure. Last year I got a beautiful beaded necklace and earring set along with a pretty hat.
12. Consider Hanging Around for Dinner
The last time I hit the festival, I stayed til the end and rather than join the traffic all leaving at once, my friend and I headed to the County Seat for a stick-to-your-ribs, home-cooked dinner.
13. Buy Your Tickets Ahead (Or Win Them Here)
Don’t be stuck waiting in line at the actual festival—get your tickets in advance here ($25 in advance, $30 at the door).
I’m also giving away one set of two tickets to the Powhatan Festival of the Grape. To enter to win, leave a comment with your favorite Virginia wine. I’ll randomly select a winner Friday, September 28.
Disclosure: Some of the links and ads included in this post are are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.