Wine & Jazz Fest To Uncork Aug. 23

Come for the wine and stay for the music when the seventh annual Wine and Jazz Festival lights up Wheeling’s Heritage Port on Aug. 23.

Although Napa Valley may still be king when it comes to vineyards, it’s becoming increasingly clear you don’t have to leave the borders of wild and wonderful West Virginia to try a variety of great wines.

And, for one Saturday evening at least, you won’t even have to leave Wheeling.

This year’s festival, set for 4-11 p.m. Aug. 23, features a record 11 wineries from around the Mountain State. Vintners from Fairmont, Vienna, Martinsburg, Lost Creek, Salem, Dry Fork, Summersville, Elizabeth, Spencer, Lewisburg, and Moorefield will be on hand, along with a number of craft beer vendors and local food options, including Undo’s, Cilantro Latin Grill, Avenue Eats and one of Wheeling’s newest restaurants, the Vagabond Kitchen.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for people to have this many West Virginia wineries in one location,” said Greg Smith, event chairman.

In addition to samples, the various winemakers will have bottles available for purchase.

Good Mansion Wines will offer wine classes and, beginning at 5 p.m., there will be a Wines of the World sampling each hour featuring selections from Europe, America and the Southern Hemisphere.

Of course, no wine and jazz festival would be complete without quality musical entertainment, and Smith believes festival-goers will be pleased with the trio of acts lined up for this year. Slated to perform are eight-time Pittsburgh Jazz Vocalist of the Year Etta Cox, David Wells and Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland.

Last year’s event drew about 1,500 people, but are hoping to crack the 2,000 mark this time, Smith said.

For the second straight year, there will be a free pre-event party from 6-10 p.m. the night before the festival, Aug. 22, at Centre Market. Featured jazz artists for include Marco and Fifth Jazz Collective and The Travis Hoard Ensemble, and those who stop by will have a chance to win free tickets to Saturday’s festival.

After being staged by the city of Wheeling for its first five years, the event is now organized by Downtown Wheeling Inc. Proceeds from the event benefit various efforts to improve the downtown area.

Main Street Bank is the event’s presenting sponsor. Other major sponsors include the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ohio County Commission, the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp., McKinley Carter Wealth Services, Hampton Inn and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.