The stands at the festival, just like last year, are divided into webshops, physical shops, with some wineries and outliers. The most notable aspect is how the event has retained its charm. Much like the city of Groningen, the size of the event seems smaller than it actually is. Two days may not have been enough time to talk to every representative, though that may also be an effect of tasting too much wine without stopping. However credit where credit’s due: the people have a lot to talk about, whether it’s about their wines, their preferences, or the wineries. Some were there to educate about their lesser known countries’ wines. In order to give you an idea, this next section will provide examples of some stories.
Upon entry you’ll notice the least subtle stand almost immediately: one with a BMW and a Harley; this is a good sign because Harleys are not meant to be subtle, especially inside churches. Turns out they’re owned by a famous Dutch radio DJ, Gerard Ekdom, who also owns a winery in Pays d’Oc region of France. They vinify Rolle grapes, have unique labels made by artist Selwyn Senatori, and put a QR code on a label for each wine, which directs to a spotify playlist, made by Ekdom, with each song referring to the name of the wine.
Have you ever tasted fruit wine? Roelof van de Belt at the Fruitwijn Fabriek makes such beverages both for fun and for business. He had wines made out of plums, bananas, strawberries and more. And on top of that, it was nice having a conversation with someone who has experienced the vinification process. The perspective of a winemaker differs a lot from a brand ambassador or a sales representative, especially someone who enjoys experimenting.
Walking a bit further would lead you to Vinhos de Portugal, where a representative flew all the way from Portugal on his way to help clients of Portugese wineries. He had a great sense of humour and was very professional; he would also go in great detail with anyone at the stand, walking them through each wine region.
What if you want wine recommendations specifically for what meal you want to eat? De Beste Wijn Bij (or, “the best wine with” in english) has you covered. They were notable because the wine fanatic in charge, Ashley, decided to test the author’s wine knowledge, with an elegant Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 (not to be confused with Nobile di Montepulciano, a different grape variety). The test did not go well. The enthusiasm was appreciated though.
It would take a full length report in order to talk about every stand at the festival, but it would also be unfair not to mention those that were visited. Most importantly, it was very flattering to be remembered by every representative who has been there last year and this article would do a disservice not to mention them. However, the next paragraph will only mention what’s new with the stands from last year. There will be a link to the wine festival website at the bottom of the page where you can see the list of those that were present this year.
Wijnhandel Alexander stands proud as ever with its Macedonian wines and a chic stand. A novelty was a white wine, Venec - Traminec 201, that can be paired with cevapcici which was discussed among some interested festival goers. It is interesting because cevapcici are usually paired with beer, but one has to make an informed assessment of this pairing, which requires a lot of wine and food tasting.
Vini dei Colli were as warm as ever, with their wines of Marche. They showed off the new white version of Guerriero della Terra and also a wine made out of the rare Lacrima grape variety. Through the Grapevine again provides the essential Portugese wines, and Wijnhandel Cahors added a sparkling malbec to their portfolio. Finally, there was a Greek stand for De Smaken van Griekenland, however it was always swarmed by people so when the time came to taste and learn, the previous wines had already set in.
And you’ve reached the bottom of the bottle. Groningen Wijnfestival is a blast and can be recommended without a doubt to any wine enthusiast. Sadly it cannot be explored within just a day, unless one has high alcohol tolerance; and it would be a shame not to, as almost every stand is worth checking out. It is an experience like none other, and who knows, hopefully there will be an opportunity to return next year.
Groningen wine festival website: https://www.wijnfestival-groningen.nl/