Headed to The SML Wine Festival? Follow This Expert Advice

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Smith Mountain Lake’s most popular annual event, the SML Wine Festival, is just a few days away and organizers are sharing tips for getting the most out of the experience.

“The Wine Festival is an awesome event that takes year-round planning,” said Cheryl Ward, Interim Executive Director for the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We want everyone to have a great time so we’re happy to share some of our best tips.”

First, save money by buying tickets in advance at visitsmithmountainlake.com, Ward said. Not only will you save $10 on each ticket, you’ll skip the purchase line when you get to the gate. Saturday is traditionally the busier, more lively day of the Festival.

“Sunday is a quieter and offers more opportunity to speak personally with winemakers and vendors, so choose the vibe you’re looking for and make plans accordingly,” she said. “Advance tickets are good for either day, but may only be used once. Parking is free both days.”

Virginia law requires that officials check the ID of everyone who enters the festival, regardless of age, so be sure to bring a photo ID.

“Even if you’re 80, you must have a photo ID to enter the premises, so that’s a biggie,” Ward said.

Other tips Ward offered:

The festival takes place outdoors, rain or shine, so check the weather and dress appropriately.

Bring your own blanket and/or lawn chair.

Leave your coolers at home. There are plenty of food vendors offering a variety of tasty fare.

No pets are allowed on the premises.

You can purchase wine from the vendors, and most offer discounts on multiple bottles. The festival offers a free wine pick-up service where you can buy wine and have a volunteer transport it to a holding area near the exit for when you’re ready to leave.

“Last but certainly not least, line up a designated driver,” Ward said. “Non-tasters can enjoy the food, atmosphere, live music and craft vendor booths for a discounted ticket price. Plus, this year they get a commemorative SML water bottle, too.”

Now in its 31st year, the SML Wine Festival will take place Sept. 28-29 at Crazy Horse Marina. Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday the festival runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets are $26 in advance for tasters and $16 for non-tasters and may be purchased securely online via visitsmithmountainlake.com or in person at the SML Visitors Center at Bridgewater Plaza, the Bedford Visitors Center and most area Kroger stores. At the gate, tickets are $36 for tasters and remain at $16 for non-tasters. Advance online ticket sales end at midnight on Sept. 27.

A complete list of participants, as well as a schedule of live music, may be found at visitsmithmountainlake.com/sml-wine-festival.