I like to think of the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival as a “locals only” event which definitely isn’t accurate… for one thing, the concourse portion of the event includes several gatherings of classic car collectors who come from hither and yon. But it’s the week after racing season has ended so the crowds have died down, the trees in Spa Park are starting to show fall color, and you can actually get a parking spot downtown.
This year’s festival is Friday through Sunday, September 5-7. The bulk of the events are on Saturday, the 6th. Admissions are a la carte and not cheap; if this is your first time I’d recommend the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon ($85). Strategy: come hungry and thirsty and plan to compress lunch, cocktails and dinner into an extended strolling and noshing experience. This year the Kevin Zraly wine tasting symposium is priced separately, but that may be okay because it’s at the same time as the demo by chef Zack Pellachio of Fish & Game in Hudson, currently the white hot restaurant in the region. I’m not sure if advance reservations are required for this; check in at the information station when you arrive to be sure you are covered for admission to this and any other special sessions within the main event.
If you do come, because of the amount of wine and spirits you might possibly consume, consider bicycling; there’s a great trail that cuts through the park behind the Dance Museum and dumps you out near the Festival grounds. Or, better yet, book a room downtown and walk to the event. By the time you return, you will have burnt off the hydroxyl radicals and calories and you’ll be ready for a new gustatory experience.