It may take a village to raise a child, but in Stefanie Farnsworth Salem’s world, it takes a vineyard to raise a wine festival. Lots of vineyards.
Salem is the founder and CEO of the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, which takes place this year Oct. 3–6.
This sixth annual festival is a classy epicurean ode to boutique wines and creative cuisine, and is easily my favorite culinary event of the year. Like fine wine, it keeps getting better with age, thanks to Salem’s efforts to make the Newport event one of the best in the country.
“I am thrilled by how much it has grown,” said Salem, who mentioned that someone recently asked her if she thought it would as successful as it is. Her answer: “Yes. That was my goal from day one. We’re still not there but we’re taking the right steps to get to the ultimate goal.”
And that ultimate goal?
“To be on the national stage, on the circuit, like Aspen, Palm Beach, New York.”
I told her she was there, but she demurred, and stated “I never think that I am there. If you think you’re there, you’re not going to try as hard.”
Salem is indeed trying hard every year to make the festival better than the previous festival. She has accomplished that this year, and then some.
Officially dubbed the Pacific Sales Newport Beach Wine & Food, presented by Jaguar land rover, the event features top local and celebrity chefs along with renowned names in the wine industry.
“Pacific Sales has been a title sponsor for the past two years, and Land Rover has been a sponsor since day one. We cannot do this event without our sponsors,” Salem said.
This year, Newport Beach Wine & Food will showcase an elevated and expanded wine program as well as a host of new events including a Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament, opening night gala with live auction benefiting Covenant House, and rare vertical library wine tastings from Opus One and JUSTIN wineries.
The weekend’s largest event, the Pacific Sales grand tasting, take place Oct. 5 and 6 at the Newport Beach Civic Center. Guests will enjoy live culinary demos from acclaimed celebrity chefs and Food Network stars, bites from more than 40 of Orange County’s top restaurants, and tastings of over 250 world-class wines.
For the first time, guests are able to purchase an exclusive diamond club ticket granting them access to a VIP lounge featuring exceptional tastings from Hundred Acre, The Mascot, and Realm, cocktail service, scheduled meet and greets with master sommeliers and celebrity chefs, early entrance to the Pacific Sales Grand Tasting, and other perks.
Amazingly, many of the festival’s ancillary events are already sold out, including the golf tournament at Pelican Hill, luxury estate tour and progressive lunch with Richard Blais, an interactive dinner with Top Chef Antonia Lofaso, an Opus One Library Tasting, Riedel glass seminar, a cooking demo with Chef Nobu, and Cult Wine of Napa tasting.
Tickets are still available for the opening night gala, a beach BBQ at Balboa Bay Resort, Justin Isosceles vertical tasting, Cristal and Caviar tasting, and the Grand Tastings including the Diamond Club, but I guarantee all of these events will eventually sell out, so get your tickets soon.
For more information, visit newportwineandfood.com.