Passing through the guard gates, heading down the twisty-turny 17-mile drive, driving past houses with names and gated entries, you could almost smell excess in the air. Wine Oh TV finally ascended on to the enormous Lexus Grand Tasting tents with lined up ticket holders clad in Gucci, Prada, Coach, and Armani. By no mistake, the Pebble Beach wine and food Festival, one of the most anticipated wine and food events of the year, is set in one of the more exclusive communities in California. Ticket prices for the entire week: $4750. Experience in return: priceless! At that price, you can spend the entire four days frolicking with top wineries, top chefs, and top wines. But before you slap your credit card down carte blanche for next year, Wine Oh TV was there to let you know exactly what to expect and what you might’ve missed.
The Pebble Beach Wine and Food festivities kicked off Wednesday evening with a Founder’s Dinner and a Celebrity Chef & Winemakers Golf Tournament on Thursday, followed by an opening Night Reception and an “After-Hours” party to get your groove on into the wee hours of the night. On Saturday, the much anticipated Guy Fieri Interactive Dinner-at no less than $500 bucks a pop-entertained guests for the second year in a row to a sold out crowd. The Grand tasting, plunked right in the middle of the day, was held on Saturday and Sunday. Throughout this time, classes were interspersed throughout the day’s schedule.
But, the Lexus Grand Tasting event, held at the renowned Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, was definitely the crème de la crème. Two huge white tents, connected together in the shape of a giant T, with strategically placed sponsors were eye-candy for guests. “Petrón” shone in lights on the ceiling of the tents, Jenn-Air had a large shiny kitchen display, Fiji had young ladies dressed brightly in blue dresses with a pink waist-tie passing out water, and Stella Artois was pouring it’s swill for those that needed a little beer to refresh their palate. In each tent, were two raised platforms that were decorated for easy lounging and grabbing a sip of bubbly. One of the Champagne houses, Domaine Chandon, shared a space with Fiji who provided bags of blue candy to enjoy with a little champagne. In the Lexus corner, while waiting in line for the popular photo booth, guests could sit in the car of their dreams or watch an artist recreate a rather large version of Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
Spread throughout tents were wineries intermixed with restaurants and their respective chef’s. Surprisingly, the wineries were fairly well balanced, with not all from one specific area of California. There wasn’t an overabundance of Napa wineries and some from out of the states. The chefs were also from a wide range of restaurants from as far away as Hawaii, New York, and Florida. The food sampled was quite good, some a little over the top with an abundance of flavors and textures that overwhelmed the palate. But, these events for chefs are very challenging. The space that they have to work in is quite small and they have to contend with feeding hundreds of people in a short amount of time while keeping the food warm. For this reason, there was a plethora of raw fish dishes which were quite tasty, but after two or three of the samples, they were redundant and salty. Not a good combo with some of those big Napa Cabs.
But nonetheless, the wines tasted that day were fantastic. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. The wineries put their best foot forward and had all the marketing gimmicks out to attract your attention. One winery passed out clown noses to match their clown-faced labels and they enjoyed telling everyone who passed that their motto was, “We drink all we can. The rest we sell.” Good idea! No point in hoarding it. Many of the wineries had the owners or winemakers pouring the wines and there was ample time to talk shop about their product. After several fast paced hours of tasting some of the best, guests retreated to luxury buses to take them on their next adventure at the Pebble Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Next Week: Pebble Beach Food and Wine Wrap: Wine Reviews and Wine Courses