Chicago may be a big city—America’s third largest, in fact (despite its “Second City” nickname)—but it’s no mere sprawling mass of skyscrapers.
In fact, Chicago is home to more than 580 parks and 8,100 acres of city-owned green space. Its most famous expanse of grass, trees, flowers and other flora is Grant Park, which hugs Lake Michigan and embraces such iconic attractions as Buckingham Fountain, numerous statues (honoring, among others, President Abraham Lincoln), the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park, home of the mirrored Cloud Gate monument, known to locals simply as “The Bean.”
It also provides a home for Chicago’s museum campus, which consists of the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, as well as iconic Soldier Field, where football’s Chicago Bears play.
Needless to say, Grant Park is considered a local treasure, one worth protecting. In fact, anytime new construction or a special event is proposed for the park, you can bet that local preservationists will step forward to offer an opinion, or to cite historic precedent.
There also is a not-for-profit entity known as the Grant Park Conservancy, which helps park managers “respond and adapt to the changing needs of its users, as the park passes from generation to generation.” Some of these needs relate to landscaping, infrastructure, design, cultural activities and environmental issues.
The Conservancy—and, by extension, Grant Park itself—is the designated beneficiary for the 2012 Windy City Wine Festival, which will surround Buckingham Fountain tomorrow and Saturday, spanning a total of 12 hours.
The event will feature music, food, casual seminars, cooking demonstrations and, of course, plenty of wine. Certain to be a hit among the culinary offerings are grapes hand-dipped in fine Belgian chocolate, provided by The Great Grape.
Several of winedom’s corporate behemoths—Banfi Vintners, Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Fetzer Vineyards, Foley Family Wines, E. & J. Gallo, Kobrand, Precept Brands, Wilson Daniels—will be there, pouring a plethora of labels and varieties. (Be sure to ask those doing the pouring whether they’re hiding anything special under the table.)
Tickets are priced at $28 in advance or $35 at the “door” each day, and include a souvenir glass, 10 tastings and a festival program. And because the event benefits such a good cause, you can sip, swirl and nosh with conviction.