0

Hundreds gather for Suwanee's first wine fest

Wendy Lenox, Sandra Hobson and Jill Lyrberg stomp grapes Saturday at the Suwanee Wine Fest. The first-ever event was sponsored by Chateau Elan and benefiting Annandale Village, an assisted living facility for adults with developmental disabilities. (Staff photo: Tyler Estep)

Wendy Lenox, Sandra Hobson and Jill Lyrberg stomp grapes Saturday at the Suwanee Wine Fest. The first-ever event was sponsored by Chateau Elan and benefiting Annandale Village, an assisted living facility for adults with developmental disabilities. (Staff photo: Tyler Estep)

photo

Winemaker Simone Bergese (far left) and other representatives from Chateau Elan Winery and Resort serve patrons at Saturday’s Suwanee Wine Fest, held at the city’s Town Center Park. (Staff photo: Tyler Estep)

SUWANEE — Nothing says mother-daughter bonding like grapes between the toes.

Barbara Mahoney and daughter Kristen Pace made Suwanee’s first-ever wine festival hands — er, feet — on Saturday afternoon, giving grape stomping a shot. The traditional way of preparing soon-to-be wine for fermentation, the experience got mixed reviews.

“It was kind of slimy,” Mahoney said, “but it was fun. It was the first time I’ve ever done it.”

Mahoney and hundreds of others flocked to the Suwanee Town Green Saturday afternoon to sample wines from across the United States and nine other countries. The inaugural Suwanee Wine Fest drew a crowd slightly smaller and less boisterous than the city’s uber-popular beer festival, but it was a success.

Braselton-based Chateau Elan Winery and Resort presented the event, a continuation of its efforts re-build its reputation. Winemaker Simone Bergese, who came to the resort from Italy just a year ago, called Saturday’s festival “great.”

“It’s a good turnout,” said Doug Rollins, Chateau Elan’s vice president of marketing. “There’s a nice flow, it’s not too crowded. For a good, first-year event, this is fantastic.”

Wines from Spain, France, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand and Chile were available for sampling, alongside offerings from Oregon, Washington, California and Georgia.

A self-described wino, Mahoney said she goes to another wine festival in Decatur every year. The first-year event in Suwanee was on par.

“This is nice because it’s so open and not overcrowded like the one in Decatur,” she said. “It’s very beautiful.”

The festivities — including the stomping — were a first for her daughter.

“I like it,” Pace said. “It’s a good variety to start exploring wines.”