The Hippo


Apr 24, 2019








The Winnipesaukee Wine Festival. Courtesy photo.

Pre-wine festival beach party

When: Tuesday, June 23, at 6 p.m.
Where: Town Docks outdoor tiki bar, 289 D.W. Hwy., Meredith
Admission is free. Portion of the 
evening’s sales benefit Veterans Count.
10th annual Winnipesaukee Wine Festival
When: Wednesday, June 24, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Winnipesaukee Ballroom at Church Landing, 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith
Tickets: Tickets cost $50 in advance, $55 at the door, VIP tickets cost $75 in advance, $80 at the door. Register at Visit

Sips at Winnipesaukee
Wine festival celebrates 10th year

By Allie Ginwala

A trip to Nantucket with a friend is all it took to inspire Diane Downing, vice president of The Common Man Family of Restaurants, to start a wine festival in New Hampshire.

“We were inspired by the Nantucket Wine Festival and, actually, that was it,” Downing said in a phone interview. 
Now in its 10th year, the Winnipesaukee Wine Festival gives guests the chance to sample from over 150 national and international wines and food pairings from The Common Man’s Meredith locations and other local restaurants.
“The selection of wines are vast and they go anywhere from Italian, Spanish, French to African, American, New Zealand, there are wines from all over the world,” she said. 
In addition to the wine, beer from New England breweries and vodka from Triple Eight Distillery in Nantucket will also be available. 
The wines are selected by Jean Osborne from Martignetti Companies, partner for the festival and primary vendor for The Common Man Restaurants. Vendors will pour anywhere from four to eight wines with representatives (and sometimes winemakers) ready to answer questions. For those who want to keep track of all the wines they enjoyed, vendors will have info cards for guests to take home.
In honor of reaching the decade milestone, a VIP tasting room has been added on to this year’s festival. VIP guests enjoy a separate tasting room with wine and food pairings in “the upper echelon,” Downing said. 
“It being a 10th year we wanted to make … more of a splash,” she said.
While the perfect summertime location of the Winnipesaukee Wine Festival seems like the result of an expertly executed plan, Downing said holding the festival in Meredith wasn’t necessarily an initial goal but something that came about through the right timing and opportunity.
“I think we were newly opened at the Lakehouse Grille at Church Landing at that time, and it seemed like the perfect vehicle,” she said. “The ballroom is beautiful and it lends itself perfectly to the flow of this type of an event.”
Downing said if she was coming as a guest, she’d want to make a summer getaway out of it. A pre-festival beach party will be held the night before at Town Docks Restaurant with a beach bar and live music and the day of the festival is open for kayaking, boating, paddleboarding or “just enjoying a lazy day on the beach,” she said.
One strategy Downing suggests for festival goers is to realize that unless you’re an extremely focused sipper and swirler, there’s no way to try all of the wines offered.
“The idea is to get there on time and peruse the room and make your map about the wines you really want to taste and plan for those,” she said. 
A corral of wine vendors will set up in the center of the ballroom at Church Landing and the restaurants and food vendors will organize around the perimeter of the room.
“You can step into the center, get your wine to taste, step out and get your food and walk the circle of the room,” she said. “Each of the restaurants...highlight something that they’re proud of and something that is easy to eat.”
The Common Man’s Lakehouse Grille, Camp, Town Docks and Lago will serve hors d’oeuvres along with food pairings from Patrick’s Pub & Eatery, The Corner House Inn, Ben & Jerry’s and Ooo La La Creative Cakes. 
One thing Downing really appreciates about the Winnipesaukee Wine Festival is its charitable component. 
“What I love about it most is we do a lot of charitable events but … this particular event I love because of its simplicity,” she said. 
This year’s festival benefits Veterans Count, a subsidiary of Easter Seals. 
“It’s a $50 donation at the door and with that it’s all the beer and wine you can taste and the martinis and the food and it’s a beautiful social evening,” she said. “It’s very comfortable and very easy and very enjoyable.” 
As seen in the June 18, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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