GALENA, Ill. – “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” Simply translated, “Wine lovers: get ready, get set, go!” The third Thursday of November marks the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau and the opportunity to be among the first to sample the new, shortly fermented wine, previewing the current year’s fall harvest. In France, this tradition began more than a century ago. In Galena, Illinois, it kicked off at the hands of Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery in 1985. Today, it’s grown to be a full-blown community celebration inviting epicureans of all levels to enjoy all things wine. The weekend officially kicks off at noon on Friday, November 16 with traditional French stew and wine-inspired lunches at many area restaurants. At 2:30 pm, the familiar “clip clop” of horse hooves will be heard throughout Galena’s downtown. On board the horse-drawn wagons sporting revelers is a celebrated guest that will have the entire town in merriment all weekend—Galena Cellars’ 2012 Nouveau wine. The specially commissioned Nouveau wine label and collector’s poster by Galena artist Dwight Walles will also be unveiled. Local restaurants continue the celebration with live music, wine tasting, dinner specials and receptions. Throughout the weekend, wine lovers can also enjoy vineyard tours (Galena boasts three area vineyards open to the public), winemaker dinners, wine-inspired pampering such as spa and shopping specials and lodging packages. Raise your glass, and let the adventure begin! A complete list of weekend happenings is available online at Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at or by calling 877.464.2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. (corner of Park Avenue) in Galena for on-site assistance and countywide information. Can't make it to Galena? Benz doesn't need a reason to have a party, but November 15th is a perfect excuse. By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released until the third Thursday in November. There was a time when only the French enjoyed the debut of this young red wine made from Gamay grapes, and it wasn't until the 1980's that the wine reached the rest of the world. Benz will offer some wines that go great with a Thanksgiving spread, no matter what you're having. Benz foodies will be making fantastic food as well. Celebrate the French ingenuity with Benz. ($10 per person)