August 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm EST | by Kristen Hartke
Sipping out of summer
VegFest, gay news, Washington Blade

Vegan treats offered at D.C. VegFest. (Photo courtesy D.C. VegFest)

It’s astonishing how quickly summer seems to fade as August segues into September, but here we are, still stubbornly holding onto our glasses of chilled rosé and dreading the return of pumpkin spice latte.

Of course, the autumnal equinox is still weeks away and global warming is real, so there’s no reason to think that you can’t park your flip flops under at a curbside bistro somewhere and keep working on your tan, glass in hand. And, by the way, rosé is good year-round, so you can keep enjoying the pink as long as you feel like it.

With that in mind, here are a few ways to enjoy the last gasp of summer:

District Winery (385 Water St., S.E.; districtwinery.com): This shiny new space just opened on Aug. 30 in D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood with expansive views of the Anacostia River and a promise of District-made wine in the future. The much-anticipated commercial winery is the brainchild of Brian Leventhal and John Stires, founders of Brooklyn Winery, which opened in the New York borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood in 2010.

Recognizing that people love anything that has a local focus — as have D.C. entrepreneurs who slap the stars and bars on everything from beer cans to knee socks — Leventhal, Stires and winemaker Conor McCormack source grapes from across the country and around the world then process them in custom urban winemaking operations to create “local” wine.

VegFest D.C. (Yards Park, 355 Water St., S.E.; dcvegfest.com): You do not have to be vegan to enjoy this popular annual culinary event on Saturday, Sept. 2 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. — you just have to be hungry. The free festival, now in its ninth year and the largest on the East Coast, showcases dozens of plant-based food vendors, from Everlasting Life’s authentic vegan soul food to Vegan Dots (yep, that’s non-dairy Dippin’ Dots), along with plenty of veggie burgers, hot dogs and samples of vegan cheese.

A large beer garden will be anchored by Busboys and Poets; the local restaurant chain already boasts an extremely veg-friendly menu but owner Andy Shallal recently hinted the restaurant is heading toward an entirely plant-based future. Be sure to bring a group of friends so everyone can take turns standing in line for the Vegan Treats Bakery tent — the Pennsylvania-made goodies are world-renowned, from the not-too-sweet Boston Cream doughnuts to owner Danielle Konya’s signature Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bomb.

It could take two hours to get into the tent (yes, really), so load up on treats to take home and it will be worth every bite. Check out a cooking demonstration by Miyoko Schinner, founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen and author of “Artisan Vegan Cheese,” whose company makes some deceptively creamy nut-based cheese, and a rap performance by Grey, who took the internet by storm with his Vegan Thanksgiving freestyle video celebrating “cabbage and greens with no ham in it.”

VinoFest D.C. (1356 Okie St., N.E.; cityvinofest.com): More wine, you say? Here you go. As if it weren’t enough that District Winery just opened, City Winery — which already has locations in New York, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and Boston — is getting ready to open its doors in D.C.’s Ivy City neighborhood this winter. In the meantime, you can get a bit of a preview of their business model, which combines live music with housemade wines that are served on tap straight from the tank along with an extensive wine list from around the world.

VinoFest D.C. is Saturday, Sept. 9 from 2-10 p.m. and will feature more than 40 wine tastings, along with craft beverages from local distillers and brewers, including Atlas Brew Works, New Columbia Distillers, Republic Restoratives, and One Eight Distilling. There will be food from Ari’s Diner, ProFish, Ivy City Smokehouse, La Puerta Verde and Timber Pizza Co., and live performances include Chromeo, Allen Stone, Black Alley, and Aztec Sun. Tickets are $49 and up.

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