Off the Menu: Newport Beach Wine & Food Fest to Return with Reimagined Events

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Wine being poured at a previous year’s Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival.

My favorite foodie event every year is without a doubt the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival. Held every October, the Festival has become a decidedly sophisticated and classy affair, incorporating everything from a weekend of Grand Tastings to special events that include private dinners with celebrity chefs and winemakers, reserve tastings, and even harbor cruises.

This year, due to obvious reasons, the Festival is being modified to incorporate COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. Gone are the weekend grand tasting events that drew hundreds of people to enjoy cuisine from 40 restaurants and wine tastings from hundreds of labels. However, the activities that the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival is cooking up for its seventh annual event this October sound like fabulous and fun alternatives.

Cuisine from The Winery Newport

According to information sent from the Festival promoters, this year features “Wine & Dine Harborside,” a new epicurean lifestyle event taking place by boat on Saturday, October 10, 2020 in Newport Harbor. This event will offer “the same high-end, intimate experience that keeps Newport Beach Wine & Food attendees returning year after year, while ensuring the safety of the event’s guests, restaurants and partners,” said the press release.

Here’s how it works: the “Wine & Dine Harborside” event will give guests a grand showcase of some of Newport Beach’s noted restaurants by rented Duffy or personal boat. Groups of eight to ten attendees will embark on a tour of the Newport Harbor and experience a variety of food, wine, beer, spirit tastings and experiential activations, with boats docking directly at each tasting destination.

Tickets will be available for purchase starting August 3.

Stefanie Farnsworth Salem, the founder and CEO of the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival.
— Photo courtesy Stefanie Farnsworth Salem ©

“We are thrilled to announce the expansion of Newport Beach Wine & Food offerings beyond our annual four day weekend of events in October,” said Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Founder & CEO, Stefanie Farnsworth Salem, in a statement. “We feel that each of our new endeavors encapsulates a unique aspect of Southern California and Newport Beach’s culinary experience, which our loyalists old and new will be able to engage with throughout the year.”

Guests will be able to connect with the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival year-round with the launch of the Bespoke Collection and a weekly food and wine industry-related podcast, “Bites of Newport Beach Wine & Food,” hosted by Salem.

The Bespoke Collection in essence replaces the ancillary events of the normal Festival, without the confines of specific dates centered around the October Festival.

The Bespoke Collection will bring the Newport Beach Wine & Food experience into homes for the host and up to a dozen of their closest friends and colleagues to enjoy via private zoom call or a live, in person private event.

I’m told these are luxurious, high-end events that will feature unique food and beverage pairings selected by the host and led by master sommeliers, food experts and celebrity chefs.

Wine varieties at a previous year’s Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival.

The lineup of events include “Learn How To Taste Like a Master” led by a Master Sommelier, a Hundred Acre Wine Paired Dinner, Champagne & Petrossian Caviar, Riedel Master Glass Tasting Seminar, and Interactive Local or Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstrations and Dinners that can take place either virtual or live.

Last year I was fortunate to attend two of the Festival’s ancillary events: the Riedel glass class, which I found eye-opening as to the importance of pairing the correct glass with a specific type of wine, and the Champagne & Caviar event—a decidedly decadent experience that also opened my palate up to the delights of different caviars and champagnes.

Champagne and Caviar tasting at the 2019 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival

The festival’s new podcast, “Bites of Newport Beach Wine & Food,” also sounds like great fun. It will offer interviews between Salem and renowned chefs and sommeliers about the food & wine industry and offer tricks of the trade. Interviewees include Chef Alan Greely, who ran Costa Mesa’s The Golden Truffle for 37 years before retiring; Chef Art Smith, who served as the personal chef for Oprah Winfrey for years; Chef Hubert Keller, known for his popular and award-winning restaurant Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and Las Vegas; and master sommeliers Michael Jordan and Fred Dame.

The podcast is available to listen to starting August 3, which coincidentally is when “Wine & Dine Harborside” tickets go on sale.

I’ll have more info, including an interview with Festival founder Stefanie Salem, in a fututre Off the Menu column.

To inquire about Virtual Private, Corporate or Bespoke Collection events, please email [email protected]

For more information about Newport Beach Wine & Food” events including the podcast and Wine & Dine Harborside tickets, visit Also, you can follow @NewportBeachWineAndFood on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. They post regular updates and info/photos.

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