Big Sur Food & Wine Festival


Wine Oh TV Big Sur Food and Wine FestivalA Celebration of Monterey’s Most Delicious Delights: November 1 – 4, 2012

What better way to welcome November, when thoughts begin turning to festive holiday meals with family and friends, than with a celebration of Monterey county’s rock star chefs and vintners, held in the epicenter of culinary invention?


Wine Oh TV Big Sur Food and Wine FestivalUndoubtedly, when people think of Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur, they think of the prolific beauty and bounty of both land and sea that make this place like no other on earth. It is fitting, indeed, that the 4th annual Big Sur Food & Wine Festival kicks off at the spectacularly set Carmel Highlands Inn on Thursday, November 1st, with “Gateway to Big Sur,” an extravaganza featuring the areas top chefs and winemakers, from 6pm til 9pm.


Wine Oh TV Big Sur Food and Wine Festival With 18 chefs and 37 wineries, this promises to be one of the year’s classiest parties, and certainly the backdrop, a drop-dead gorgeous view of the Pacific coastline, kissed by the after-sunset glow, could not be more dramatic. Attendees are encouraged to don cocktail attire and put on the glitz, because this is the scene to be seen. The Hyatt Carmel Highlands will be transformed into a magical nirvana for the palate, where you’ll dine on the culinary creations of:

  • Adam Nichol – Grand Hyatt San Francisco
  • Brandon Miller – Mundaka, Carmel
  • Cal Stamenov & Ben Spungin – Bernardus, Carmel Valley
  • Cy Yontz – Rio Grill
  • Domingo Santamaria – Deetjen’s, Big Sur
  • Frank Ostini – Hitching Post, Buellton
  • Greg Lizza – Nepenthe, Big Sur
  • Greg Lopez – Hyatt Hotels Seattle and Urbane
  • Jason Balestrieri – Cantinetta Luca, Carmel
  • Jerry Regester – C Restaurant at Monterey Intercontinental
  • John Cox – Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
  • Kent Torrey – Cheese Shop of Carmel
  • Mark Ayers – Cannery Row Brewing Company
  • Matt Bolton – Hyatt Carmel Highlands
  • Phil Wojtocwiecz – Big Sur Bakery
  • Phillip Burrus – Esalen Institute, Big Sur
  • Timothy Hrusa – Treebones Resort, Big Sur

And, you’ll be wined by a storied collection of vintners, including local legends Boekenoogen Vineyards, Calera, Galante, McIntyre, Miura, Pelerin, Pisoni, ROAR and Talbott, along with esteemed guests from other regions, including Champagne Delamotte, Chanin, Chappellet, Cold Heaven, Copain, Corison, Duckhorn, Fiddlehead, Hirsch, Justin, Kristi Lynn, Martines Wines, Melville, Paul Lato, Peay, Perception, Pride, Ramey, Roederer, Scarpetta, Sheldon, Siduri, Spottswoode and Wind Gap.

Parking at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is very limited. There is a shuttle that meets at the Crossroads shopping center between the Rio Grill and Starbucks: $12 per one-way ride. See to view the schedule and to make reservations for the shuttle.

Seminars and More

But there’s a lot more than cocktail-attired partying at Big Sur Food & Wine. Many lessons are waiting to be learned, beginning with the Calera Pinot Noir Retrospective at 4pm at the Highlands on Thursday, a wonderful way to warm up your palate for the evening’s festivities. Winemaker and proprietor, Josh Jensen, one of the most celebrated and quirky vinters in the business – two great qualities in a winemaker  – will present four of his favorite vintages from his magical property in the Hollister hills. Few ever have the patience or the opportunity to cellar these majestic wines until they are truly ready for prime time. $35

Friday brings “Pinot and Their Muse” to the Big Sur State Park Conference Center, 10am-12pm

Emmanuel Kemiji, MS, of Miura Wines, moderates a panel of Pinot makers, including Josh Jensen, Martine Saunier, Burt Williams (Williams-Selyem), Gavin Chanin, Paul Lato and Andy Peay, all of whom will reveal their own personal muse that inspires them to make amazing wines. $50

Both “Hiking with Stemware” walks, 9:30-2:30 and 10:45-2:30, are  SOLD OUT

12:30pm-3pm Pinot Walkabout at the Post Ranch Inn Gardens

Here is a chance to drink in some fresh saltwater air while swirling, sniffing and sipping some fine Pinots from some of the world’s best vineyards for growing Pinot. These happen to be right in your back yard, from Arroyo Seco to the Santa Lucia Highlands, to the neighboring Carmel Valley Highlands.

Enjoy wines from 30 producers along with cheeses from Point Reyes Farmstead and the Schoch Family, as well as the Big Sur Taphouse. Check out the beautiful kitchen garden of the Post Ranch Inn that provides their Sierra Mar restaurant with produce. $48

Friday evening, don’t miss the Wine and Swine “carve off” at the Henry Miller Library, where Chef Brian Overhauser goes hacksaw to hacksaw and knife to knife against Jim Burch of Wine & Swine Sponsor, Del Monte Meat Company. They’ll literally go whole hog, as they compete in the piglet dressing and food prep contest that will have everyone’s rapt attention, until they delve into the wonderful dishes pulled from that succulent porker. The piglet will be auctioned off as a benefit for the Culinary Scholarship Fund.

You’ll enjoy a plethora of porcine delectables prepared by five chefs, using hogs from the 100% sustainable farms of Niman Ranch, all matched with wines from local wineries. $90

These days, or should we say nights, there’s always an After Party, so hang out at the Henry Miller Library for some late night sipping and story swapping after Wine and Swine.

There are still seats available for the 7:00pm Winemaker Dinner at The Big Sur Bakery, featuring Chappellet Winery. For more information or to register for the dinner, contact the Big Sur Bakery at 831.667.0520

Seats remain for the 7:30pm Winemaker Dinner at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn featuring the Laird Family Estate Vineyard. For more information or to register for the dinner, call 831.667.2377

Second generation winemaker Rebecca Laird of Laird Family Estate Vineyards will preside over a cozy meal in the Deetjens Family and Fireplace rooms, where Laird wines will be paired with an inspired 5-course meal created by Chef Domingo Santamaria.  $175

Saturday Events

Saturday begins with a 10-11:30 seminar on Napa Family Wines at the Big Sur State Park Conference Center. Long before the rise of the cult cabs, Napa was a small valley inhabited by working families. Learn the stories and explore the wines of Chappellet, Continuum and Spottswoode during a panel discussion moderated by Peter Granoff, MS, owner of the Ferry Plaza and Oxbow Wine Merchant. $30

Join grower Gary Franscioni at 11:30 for an overview and introspective on the Sierra Mar Vineyard at the Henry Miller Library. Gary planted his mother’s property, high in the hills of the Santa Lucia Highlands, in 2007. Destined to become one of Monterey’s greatest vineyards, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Viognier are growing at 1000 feet above the beautiful Salinas Valley. Come taste the wines of ROAR, Siduri, August West, Bernardus, Pelerin and Novy from this stunning new vineyard.  $30

2pm-5pm enjoy the Sold Out Grand Public Tasting at the Post Ranch Inn, with50 wineries! 15 chefs. Sponsored by Lexus and the Post Ranch Inn, the Grand Public Tasting will be held under the Big Top adjacent to the pond at the world famous Post Ranch Inn. Chefs include Leslie Durso from New York, preparing purely vegetarian dishes, Frank Ostini of the famed Hitching Post in Buellton, Brian Overhauser of Hahn Estates, John Cox of the Post Ranch, Brandon Jones of Lokal in Carmel Valley and many more.

6:30pm Dinner with Friends at the Henry Miller Library

Enjoy a special Paulée-style dinner at the Henry Miller Library, along with the jazz manouche of Beso Negro, outstanding food and unique and fun wines from various cellars and collections. You’re invited to bring something you wish to share. And, naturally, there’s an After Party. $155

7pm Winemaker Dinner & Hot Springs at Esalen featuring Idle Cellars

24 lucky guests will enjoy an unforgettable evening in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.  Winemakers Ari Heavner and Ben Larks of Idle Cellars will pour their wines, paired with a five course dinner, prepared by Chef Phillip Burrus.  Dinner is at 7, but arrive at 5pm for a walk through the garden, and a soak in the hot springs! $175

7pm Winemaker Dinner at The Big Sur Bakery featuring Peay Winery

Contact the Big Sur Bakery at 831.667.0520

9:30pm After Party! at the Henry Miller Library

Dance the night away to the talents of Beso Negro and BiG SuRCuS,  who will literally light up the night!  Then DJ Hanif’s musical mixology of eclectic world beats will resonate under the cathedral of the redwoods at the Henry Miller Library for your dancing pleasure. Firestone Walker Brewing Company sponsors. $20

Sunday November 4th

10:30am -3:30pm Magical Mystery Tour of Central Big Sur ~ SOLD OUT

6:30pm Winemaker Dinner at Treebones Resort featuring Vina Robles Vineyards

Treebone’s executive Chef Tim Hrusa will present a six course meal paired with wines from one of Paso Robles’ premium vineyards, Vina Robles.  Reception starts at 6:30, dinner seating at 7:15.  Purchase tickets by calling Treebones at (877) 424-4787 weekdays. Ticket price includes tax and gratuity. $99

What’s It All About?

This is a big event to coordinate, so one wonders what’s behind it, besides the drive and vision of organizer, Toby Rowland Jones, and his dedicated team of like-minded lovers of all things Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey. The simple answer is that the Festival supports local nonprofits that benefit Health, Safety, Education and Arts. A portion of ticket sales for the Gateway Event on November 1st goes to support:

  • Apple Pie School
  • Big Sur Charter School
  • Big Sur Health Center
  • Big Sur Natural History Association
  • Big Sur Scholarship Recipient
  • Captain Cooper School
  • Gazebo School at Esalen Institute
  • Pacific Valley School
  • The Henry Miller Library

The Festival also gives scholarships to talented Big Sur residents who would greatly benefit themselves and the community through wine and/or culinary education. In the last three years, the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival raised over $65,000 for the Big Sur community.

The 2012 Big Sur Food and Wine Festival takes place November 1-4 throughout the coast of Big Sur and is sponsored by Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Hyatt Hotels, Mercedes-Benz of Monterey, Post Ranch Inn, J& L Wines, and Farmer Family Fund, among others.

For more information, please contact Toby Rowland-Jones at 831-667-0800 or or visit


Laura NessLaura Ness, aka “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist and wine critic whose passion for wine was ignited by a visit to France, where she had the unmatched pleasure of tasting Sancerre in the medieval town of Sancerre – splendid!— and then a Saumur, after visiting the Chateau de Saumur in Chinon. The concept of terroir came alive in those incandescent moments. She regularly judges wine competitions and serves on the tasting panels of the Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay Shootouts. She was instrumental in helping define the unique sub-regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in concert with Appellation America. You can usually find her sipping and smiling in Mendocino, Livermore, the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Paso Robles. Laura writes extensively for many industry and consumer publications, and has weekly wine columns in several Bay Area newspapers. She blogs, irreverently and sporadically, at

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PUBLISHED DATE: October 31st, 2012 | WINE CATEGORY: News & Events
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