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Uncorked: Wine Lovers Weekend takes tasting downtown

Wine Lover’s Weekend has moved its signature event where it belongs. 

A quaint, charming town steeped in its downtown’s history will now host the 11th annual Wine Lover’s Weekend Grand Tastings at Turner Hall in Galena.

The three Grand Tastings on Friday, March 23, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 24, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m., bring attendees into the corridor of restaurants and stores that line Main Street.  

Turner Hall, located at 115 S. Bench St. in the heart of downtown Galena, is described by Fried Green Tomatoes owner Fred Bonnett as “an old, beautiful, historic auditorium.” 

With more than 300 wines selected by Family Beer and Liquor owner and buyer Tim Althaus, attendees should bring a clipboard to the Grand Tasting and highlight the wines by category. My categories are weeknight wine, special occasion wines, cellar selections and avant garde. The categories keep the grandiosity of the event from becoming overwhelming.  

A shuttle will run from 5:15 to 11 p.m. Friday from the Depot parking lot to Fried Green Tomatoes to Turner Hall. It also will run on Saturday from 12:45 to 11 p.m. 

“There are so many different types of wines at the tasting,” Bonnett said. “There’s always something new I am finding. Last year, I found a winemaker that uses lemons to make wine. It was so refreshing, it was perfect for a warm spring or summer day. While there’s snow on the ground now, it’s not long before it’s gone. It’s exciting to be exposed to so many new wines, it really keeps things fresh.”

On Friday night, Fried Green Tomatoes will host a dinner that features the wines of Santa Margherita. Also, with Friday’s special being half-price bottles, it’s an excellent opportunity to go deep into Fried Green Tomatoes’ Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list, a distinction it has earned for 18 straight years.

On Saturday, a pair of California wineries will be featured, Sonoma’s Landmark and Paso Robles’ Justin. 

“The wine dinner is a great chance to showcase different wines,” Bonnett said. “We don’t normally pour these wines by the glass. It’s a great opportunity to pair them with different cuisines and really enjoy them.”

Another can’t-miss event is Galena Cellars’ Vineyard Luncheon on Saturday with winemaker Chris Lawlor-White. Perched atop a ridge with a panoramic view, the view from the vineyard of an area on the cusp of spring is a harbinger of warmer days to come. A full list of events is available at

“Wine Lover’s Weekend is an annual spring fling,” Bonnett said. “We’re transitioning into a new season, getting ready for warmer weather and enjoying great wines at the same time.”

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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