Interest in organic, biodynamic and natural wine has exploded in recent years. Once a niche style, curiosity about natural wine has spread beyond its roots in France. While sales are but a fraction of those for conventional wine, the recent boom of natural wine fairs has helped introduce more consumers to the notion of “less is more” in winemaking.
Here are some fairs to add to your calendar this year.
La Dive Bouteille, February 2–3
The Loire Valley was an early hotbed of the natural wine movement. La Dive Bouteille, founded in 1999 by Sylvie Augereau and known as “La Dive” in wine circles, was comprised initially of a handful of Loire Valley natural winemakers. Held in the 19th-century Ackerman Caves of Saumur, this year’s fair will feature more than 200 producers.
However, La Dive is only one of four salons held the same weekend. While you’re in the neighborhood, hit Les Anonymes, focused on wines without added sulfur dioxide (or SO2), and Salon St Jean and Les Pénitentes, organized by winemakers that present variations on the theme.
Raw Wine, March 8–9
Raw Wine started in London in 2012, but has since expanded to Berlin, Los Angeles, Montreal and New York City. Founded by Isabelle Legeron MW, the two-day event features more than 150 growers devoted to fine natural, organic and biodynamic wine.
This isn’t a fair for first-time experiments. Participants are vetted for quality and expertise. Some of the first and best will pour at the show, like Domaine Pierre Frick (Alsace), Château le Puy (Bordeaux), Clos des Quarterons (Loire), Le Clos des Jarres (Languedoc) and AMI (Burgundy).
VinNatur Tasting, April 18–20
Set outside Verona, Italy, VinNatur is considered one of the country’s most important events for natural wine. The 17th edition has moved to the expansive showroom of renowned marble manufacturer Margraf. As the organization’s flagship event, more than 170 wineries from Italy and around Europe will participate.
Typically, the winemaker pours, so guests can ask them about their philosophies and processes. Even better, unlike events in the United States, consumers can purchase directly from producers. In other words, bring a big empty wine suitcase to Italy.
Zero Compromise Natural Wine Festival
With a winemaking history that spans 8,000 years, it’s no surprise Georgia turns out exciting wines. Known for its indigenous grape varieties and aging in clay amphora called qvevri, the wines of Georgia are worth the trek.
Held annually, Zero Compromise is the country’s main natural wine event, organized with the support of the Association of Natural Wine and LEPL National Wine Agency. Most participating winemakers are members of Natural Wine Association, which comprises around 70 cellars. A favorite of natural wine writer Alice Feiring, she says, “expect a full-on party.”
Wild World Festivals, May 16–17
Wild World started in the spring of 2019, the brainchild of wine importer Byron Bates and Jester King Farmhouse Brewery’s Jeff Stuffings. The festival’s scope also embraces wild fermented beer, cider and mead. More than 60 producers from five states and five countries poured at the inaugural event.
Because it’s Texas, good food and lively music serve as backdrop to panel discussions and fermentation classes on Jester King’s bucolic Hill Country site.
Summer Solstice, June 19–20
Summer Solstice, Maryland’s first fête devoted to low-intervention wine, also debuted last year. Organized by siblings Lisa Hinton, Ashli Johnson and Drew Baker of Old Westminster Winery, the two-day celebration was held under a circus tent on lovely Burnt Hill Farm. Producers like Todd Cavallo of Wild Arc Farm and Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars joined the party last year, and positive feedback from festivalgoers encouraged the founders to throw a second iteration this summer.
Nat Diego, June 26–27
San Diego, California
For West Coast wine drinkers, the 4th annual Nat Diego brings together winemakers, importers and natural wine advocates. Under the California sun, the two-day event offers producer seminars, tastings and a finale party.
At previous festivals, different venues play host, while the main event is held at an experimental center for the arts called Bread & Salt. Past participants include wineries Southold Farm & Cellar, Forlorn Hope and Champagne Lelarge Pugeot, plus importers Kermit Lynch and Vinotas.
Naturebas Fair, June 27–28
São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil, hosts the country’s key wine events. Going on eight years, the nonprofit Naturebas Fair remains the country’s only event focused on natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Started in 2013, the fair has grown to 100 exhibitors and more than 1500 visitors.
It’s the benchmark event for Latin America, with the goal to promote direct relationships between customers and producers. Food artisans from coffee, chocolate and olive oil also participate. Aware of its impact on the environment, fair organizers sort and recycle trash, reduce electricity use when possible and use compostable food packaging.