Taste of Wine

San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival on the way

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The excitement is building. The 9th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, five days of the celebration of the joy of food and wine, will be with us soon. A small army of chefs and wine makers will flood San Diego with unforgettable tasting. 200 wineries pouring over 1,000 different wines, breweries, spirits and 70 of the country’s culinary greats, will create over 25 city-wide events for a luxury liner of events and offerings unlike any other.If you can only attend one event, make it the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, November 17 at the Embarcadero Park behind Seaport Village. It’s a love-fest of wineries, celebrity chefs, over 100 restaurants and live music from two stages. Admission is as early as 11 am to 3pm.

Look for great wines from many parts of the world, incuding Duckhorn, Niner, Opolo, and Rodney Strong. Local wineries to know include South Coast, Callawy, and Falkner. Pans will be flying in this event as the “Chef of the Fest,” a culinary showdown, will feature San Diego’s top culinary talent testing their skills. One chef will be awarded top honors with $50,000 in cash and prizes. Look for the action in the Creekstone Farms Pavilion.

Equally in demand is The Vault, a Reserve Wine Tasting Experience & Silent Auction Nov. 16 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis & Marina Hotel, next to the Convention Center. Selections from 160 acclaimed wineries are lined up for this event.

This year, the after-dark events have been ramped up at the hottest spots in town, Wednesday night through Saturday night, and daytime seminars are boosted, on Thursday and Friday.

We could go on and on about the cooking classes, winemaker dinners and Celebrity Chef’s luncheons, but it’s time for you to pick your best memorable events and go for it! The master web site is sandiegowineclassic.com, for everything you need to know about the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.


Meritage a Showcase for Fine Wines

With the press of more wine territory for me to cover and report on, and more publications and web sites looking for wine and food news, I don’t’ get around to neighborhood wine shops as much as I would like.

But I know that’s where the customer action is and Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas does it as well as any.

2012 has certainly been a transition year for this powerhouse wine shop. Former GM Mark has gone up to Napa Valley to make wine with his new Hiatus label. Whitney Woodall has orchestrated the changes and has brought in former hotel man Dustin Cano as wine buyer.

This operation has been named “Best Wine Shop in San Diego” four times in a row so it’s hard to improve on that accolade. But so far this year, Meritage has brought in wine pouring Enomatic Machines to allow customers to experience top quality wines day and day out; added a chef to increase wine dinners like “grillin and chillin” on site; and introduced seminars and basic wine education. New store hours are: Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday Meritage is closed. The team continues to find lesser known, high quality wines like a recent Cabernet from Chile, the Cousino Macul, for just $10. See more at meritagewinemarket.com.


Wine Bytes

The 3rd Annual OktoberWest in Carlsbad is at Bistro West Oct. 13 from noon to 3 p.m. Six authentic gourmet foods, beer & wine and music will liven up your weekend. Must be 21+ to attend. $35; tickets are at Bistro West. Call (760) 930-8008 for details.

Sips for Shelter Unlimited Wine Tasting benefit is Oct. 13 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Marriott Del Mar on El Camino Real. Fifty vintners from around the world will gather with no limit on wine tasting, $45; RSVP at (619) 702-5399.

The two-day La Jolla Street Art and Wine Festival is Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Location is Girard between Prospect and Kline streets. This event is free (suggested cash donation of $5.) More than 100 artists, and a wine and beer garden. Website is ljawf.org.

A benefit wine dinner is being held at The Red Door Restaurant and Wine Bar in Mission Hills Oct. 17. Reception at 5:30 p.m. $49 for dinner, $79 with wine pairings. Details at (619) 295-6000.

Europa Village, the old world winery in Temecula, has a Festival of the Grape wine dinner, a dinner show Oct. 18 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. It’s a four-course Italian style menu with musical performances by costumed singing waiters. $79 per person; RSVP at (951) 506-1818. Europa Village also is hosting a benefit for Habitat for Humanity with live music on Fri. Oct. 19 from 6:30 to 9:30pm, featuring the Marie Alcantar Band. Cost is free; nominal cost for wines. Call (951) 216-3380.