WINE WITH SOME WACKY: There are as many ways to taste wine as there are wines out in the world. At a friend's house, on her patio, with a few bottles in a few bags, for mystery's sake? Yep, that's popular. At a tony vineyard inside a tony tasting room that's connected to a tony gift shop where a tony string trio plays every weekend? For sure, that happens, too. And at a posh dinner, where ever sip is paired with a fresh taste? This has been known to occur. But many an oenophile prefers a funkier, go-at-your-own-place scene, with some sunshine and open air to boot. Those are the people who mark down the large-scale wine events on their calendars, the ones that spread out over a few streets, with booths, tunes, and some art for sale, too. One of the main beverage-oriented draws of Bay Area bottle enthusiasts is the Walnut Creek Wine and Art Festival, which fills out two weekend days each spring. Yep, "wine" is first in the name, so look for a lot of regional labels. But look for a chillaxed setting in the WC, meaning you can taste at your own pace.
AND ART IT UP, TOO: Let's not forget the second element in this long-running affair. (We trucked out "long-running" there because this is year 33 -- yeah, that qualifies.) "Over 100 wines and beers" shall be featured at the May 31 and June 1 party, and a craft beer garden to boot. Seriously, suds buffs, what's late springtime if a few quality beer gardens don't enter full bloomage? Dixieland jazz, craft booths, kidly happenings, and other stroll-and-enjoy-the-weather-ish things shall go down. What won't go down? You opening your wallet to get in, or to take the shuttle (the shuttle is oh-so-important, given that 100,000 people, give or take, show up over the Saturday and Sunday). Both the shuttle and festival admission are free, free, free. Extra cash for you to try wine and buy your favorite designated driver lunch.