GrapeFest to kick off with Super Bowl theme

GRAPEVINE -- Like a fine wine, GrapeFest gets better with age.

This year's festival -- the 24th -- should be a real crowd-pleaser, organizers say, because they are raising their glasses to the upcoming Super Bowl.

The festival's theme -- Super Times, Super Wines -- pays tribute to Super Bowl XLV, which will be played Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," said Lisa Samuel, spokeswoman for the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This festival is better than a tailgate" party.

Festival organizers will uncork the fun at 10 a.m. today in downtown Grapevine, and the wine will flow freely until 6 p.m. Sunday. As usual, the largest wine festival in the Southwest will host a variety of activities, including a competitive grape-stomping competition, live music on six stages, arts and crafts, festival food, and carnival and midway games.

Although the festival is not an official Super Bowl-sanctioned event, it will have a Super Bowl presence. For example, GrapeFest's collectible souvenir poster this year is based on an oil painting created by artist Kerry Konecny that incorporates the elements of football and wine.

The festival is also partnering with the Taste of NFL and Gallo Wines to bring patrons the "Super Wine Experience," allowing them to sample some of the country's best offerings.

GrapeFest is inviting patrons to participate in the "People's Choice Big Game Championship" by voting for who they think will win the big game. The person whose prediction comes true -- and whose name is drawn from the pot of winners -- will receive a weekend getaway package in Grapevine, complete with a stay at the Gaylord Texan and tickets to a Cowboys game.

"We are very proud that the Super Bowl is coming to North Texas," Samuel said.

On a non-Super Bowl note, one of the festival's biggest draws is expected to be the People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic, historically a festival favorite that features Texas wines. Patrons get 90 minutes to "zip around Texas," tasting 114 wines from 32 wineries.

"You go in and taste all the wines and vote for your favorite reds or whites," Samuel said. "The wineries love this because this is what the people are saying about their wines."

Last year, more than 250,000 people attended the four-day GrapeFest, which also hosts a golf tournament and a black-tie gala.

"Everyone is extremely excited about the Super Bowl, and the entire Metroplex is gearing up," she said. "We thought it would be fun to incorporate Super Bowl events at GrapeFest -- and we look forward to the big party in February."

Melody McDonald,