Atlanta Food and Wine Festival focuses on the South

More food and drink-centric festivals coming this fall.

Credit: Raftermen

Credit: Raftermen

The Atlanta Food and Wine Festival returns for a second year at Atlanta’s Historic Fourth Ward Park on Saturday and Sunday Sept. 17-18. The all-inclusive food, wine and cocktail tasting event is focused on the South, from Texas to the District of Columbia.

Beginning on Sept. 13, there’s a series of intimate dinners hosted by some of Atlanta’s top chefs at seven different restaurants, including Talat Market, Lazy Betty, Iberian Pig Buckhead, Redbird, Aziza, Hattie B’s, and the Americano.

Credit: Raftermen

Credit: Raftermen

Asked about take-aways from the 2021 festival, Brett Friedman, the founder and managing partner of Agency 21, which now owns and operates the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, declared it “a hit.”

“I think what we learned is that there’s a voracious appetite for food festivals in Atlanta,” Friedman said. “To be completely candid, we were thrilled with the results. Some of it was related to COVID realities, and people having an opportunity to go out in a safe environment and enjoy themselves. That really continued into this year.”

Credit: Raftermen

Credit: Raftermen

New this year, two weeknight walk-around events at Guardian Works events space in Midtown offer a middle option between the outdoor tasting tests and the intimate dinners.

“Sliced: A Cut of Atlanta’s Best Bites,” is Thursday, Sept. 15. Billed as sweet, savory and everything in between, from pizza, pie and quiche to brisket, bread and chicken pot pie, there’s something for everyone to enjoy by the slice.

“Cluck’d: A Chicken & Cocktail Soirée,” is Friday, Sept. 16. It features roasted, battered, baked, barbecued, grilled, sautéed, braised, and fried birds prepared by chefs from around the South, paired with signature Southern cocktails.

Credit: Raftermen

Credit: Raftermen

One of the big changes for Food and Wine in 2021 was the elimination of the food and drink seminars that traditionally took place in the conference rooms at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Midtown. As it turns out, the seminars won’t be back in 2022 for several reasons, Friedman explained.

“It really comes down to financials, and the labor situation that’s staring us in the face,” he said. “We have not made a decision about what to do moving forward. Truthfully, that part of the programing was never a money maker. It was also something that separated this festival from others. That’s why there’s a part of me that holds it as near and dear and unique, which is why we’re not closing that door. And we continue to do culinary demos at the tasting tents with different themes.”

While the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival was traditionally a spring event, its move to the fall was well received last year, Agency 21′s Lauren Melamed noted.

“We found that people definitely preferred the fall weather, which is why we’re continuing to do in September versus May, like previous years,” she said. “The other thing that is really important to us is that we’re going to have representation from 13 Southern states.”

“Remember, the event is really a celebration of Southern states and Southern cuisine, not just Atlanta specifically, or even Georgia,” Friedman said. “That was something we really struggled with last year, but we will have 100% participation this year, which is something we do take pride in.”


Atlanta Food and Wine Festival

Sept. 17-18. Tasting tents $99 per day, $150 VIP; $158 weekend pass. Historic Fourth Ward Park, 680 Dallas St., Atlanta. Intimate dinners and walk-around events $90-$250, various locations.

Four More Fall Food and Drink Festivals

Taste of Smyrna Festival of Delectable

11 a.m–8 p.m. Sept. 17. Free admission; food samples $1-$5. Taste of Smyrna “features samples from more than 30 Smyrna restaurants, including Williamson Brothers BBQ, Golden Crust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Frozen Cow Creamery, and Pita Mediterranean Street Food. Festivities on the Village Green and Market Village in downtown Smyrna include live music and kids activities. 770-423-1330,

Pontoon Brewing Brownie Bash

Noon-5 p.m. Sept. 24. $75 general, $150 VIP. Brownie Bash is a beer festival hosted by Pontoon Brewing. This year it will feature over 70 breweries from around the U.S., food vendors, Atlanta brownie vendors, a DJ after party, and more. Brownie Bash is inspired by Pontoon’s barrel-aged pastry stout series, and will feature four new releases. 8601 Dunwoody Place, Building 500, Suite 500, Sandy Springs. 770-674-1075,

Barrels & Bites

6-10 p.m. Sept. 29. $85 general, $120 VIP. The Village Dunwoody hosts an elevated evening of bites paired with a complementing wine, whiskey or tequila cocktail. Restaurants will include Bar{n}, Cuco’s Cantina, Message In A Bottle, The Usual, Morty’s Meat Supply, Breadwinner Cafe, NFA Burger, Grand Champion BBQ, Chupito’s Azteca Grille, Local Three, and many more. 5521 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody.

Wrecking Bar Hop Harvest Festival

Noon- 4 p.m. Oct. 15. $55-$70, plus fees: Wrecking Bar Brewpub partnered with six hop farms from around the country to pick, package, and ship freshly harvested hops directly to 35 metro Atlanta breweries. Each brewery will make their own fresh wet hop beer. Each ticket includes a custom Hop Harvest Fest glass and unlimited beer. 292 Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-221-2600,