Rico Cassoni, one of last year’s Wine & Wishes guests, salutes Kale Wines, a top Napa Valley wine returning for this year’s benefit celebration. Photos by Frank Mangio
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: September is California Wine Month — two ways to celebrate

It seems like the corks are flying off the bottles more than normal this month and there’s good reason. It’s California Wine Month and the festivals and wine dinners are adding up.

Wine is big business in California with more than 4,000 wineries in 138 wine regions, doing nearly 90 percent of the production of wine in the U.S.  From Mendocino to San Diego, the climate, soil and topography ensure there will be a harvest of some 120 lovely grape varietals, the best being Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. 

The largest and most stylish event in September will be the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival, Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

Two events in Southern California best exemplify the character of wineries in this state with quality family-style wines, and generations of rich, bold and fruity vintages. The two are Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival Sept. 29 to Oct. 1; and Wine and Wishes in La Costa Carlsbad on Sept. 30.    

Both will be displaying and pouring top-shelf selections of primarily Napa Valley wines. Both will offer world-class cuisine with handpicked chefs. Both will have live entertainment. There will be ideas and fun elements that will make them separate and special to their community and to deserving charities.

Taste of Wine will be on the scene at both soirees. Highlights at Newport Beach include more than 250 varieties of wines and a baseball team-size of world-class chefs led by Master Chef Hubert Keller of Napa Valley. San Diego’s own Brian Malarkey of Herb and Wood will be there. All will be doing cooking demonstrations and helping to serve at their booths. A special Friday night “Taste of Provence” with wines and a special menu is planned with a cocktail reception featuring Moet Hennessy Champagne and four celebrity chefs at the Winery in Newport Beach. Cost is $295 each for this special night.

Saturday and Sunday 2:30 to 6 p.m. are the Grand Tastings with food from 40 restaurants, plus wines, spirits and brews along with live music. These take place at the Newport Beach Civic Center at 100 Civic Center Drive. Tickets are $150 each and can be purchased at newportwineandfood.com/tickets/.

Make-A-Wish, the charity that grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions, and Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas are presenting Wine & Wishes from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 30 at Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad. Only the best selected limited production wines are being brought in exclusively from Napa Valley by Dustin Cano of Meritage, co-chairman in charge of wine. Renowned San Diego chefs will create extraordinary tastes to pair with the wine and a group of independent craft breweries. Co-host will be Violet the Wish Kid, “warrior, princess and super hero.” A few of the wines from Napa include Howell Mountain, Arrow and Branch, Hiatus, Kale, Keever and Reynolds.

Cost will be $200 each and you can find out more and purchase at sandiego.wish.org/wine.

Wine Bytes

Be sure to get a preview of the wine at the Wine & Wishes event at Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 29. Cost is $30 per person, $20. for Club M members. Details at (760) 479-2500.

Exciting events are in store at North County Wine Company in San Marcos, recently voted “Best Wine Bar” in San Diego County by U-T readers, including Sept. 23 with a Roederer Champagne event and a special guest and Sept. 29 a big “Penny Sale” begins. More coming and you can get details at (760) 653-9032.

An Oktoberfest Wine Tasting is being planned by Truly Fine Wines, a German wine specialty company, from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 16 on Morena Boulevard in San Diego. Cost is $15 for a flight of wine and German-style snacks. Call (858) 270-9463.

The San Diego Zoo has its annual Wine & Brew Celebration from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Sept. 23. The cost is $125 each. This is an all-inclusive wine, food and brew with some 160 vendors presenting. Entertainment around every corner. Purchase tickets to this benefit at (619) 718-3000.

Newton Vineyard of Napa Valley is the featured winery at a wine dinner at Pala Casino, Spa and Resort off Highway 76 in Pala, being held in Pala’s Underground Cave, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

Cost is $75 each. Main course is a Short Rib, a Veal Shank, a Lamb Loin and sides, with a Newton Merlot. Cost is $75 per person. RSVP at (877) 946-7252.

The great Napa Valley wine brand Paul Hobbs is coming to Vittorio’s Trattoria in San Diego’s Carmel Valley at 6 p.m. Sept. 28. Maria Brown from the winery will give a presentation, along with a four-course dinner. Cost is $65 each. Call early as this will sell out! The number is (858) 538-5884.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading commentators on the web.  View his columns at http://thecoastnews.com. Go to menu then column. Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.