Is there a more perfect pairing than music and wine?
Not if you ask Pacific Symphony board chairman Mike Kerr, founder of the symphony’s annual Pacific Coast Wine Festival, which raises funds in support of the Pacific Symphony’s education and music programming.
“With this year’s event, we will pass the $2 million mark raised for the Symphony,” said Kerr. “We’re having fun, tasting great wine, what could be better?”
Kerr estimates that more than 75 percent of festival attendees are from outside the symphony family, which means the symphony is diversifying its support base.
Now in its ninth year, the sold out Pacific Coast Wine Festival welcomed 300 guests and raised more than $350,000 this year.
Held at the Island Hotel, the Festival kicked off at 5 p.m. with two hours of wine tasting featuring such vintners as Adelaida Cellars, Beekeeper Cellars, Darioush, Fairest Cape, Folio Fine Wine Partners, French Best, Golden State Wine Co., Hirsch Vineyards, Justin Vineyards and Winery, Kobrand Fine Wine and Spirits, Lewelling Vineyards, Margaux and Friends, Notre Vin, Patland Estate Vineyards, Piper Heidsieck, Point Neuf Wines, Riverain, St. Innocent Winery, St. Supery Wines, Vintage Wine Estates, Willakenzie, Wine Exchange, and Zotovich Vineyards and Winery.
Chaired by Greg Bates, this year’s festival was generously sponsored by Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin Newport Beach.
A jazz quartet of Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles alum entertained guests while bids were placed on silent auction items. Notable prizes included a framed “Star Wars” musical score autographed by composer John Williams, a getaway to Paso Robles for a wine tour with weekend use of a Land Rover, tickets and accommodations to attend the Nashville Wine Auction and Box Circle seats to the Symphony.
Other items included dinners, theater and amusement park tickets, designer jewelry, California vacation stays, more wine tours, makeovers, and of course, magnums of rare and exceptional wine.
Once the lots closed for bidding, guests entered the dining room for a wine-paired dinner prepared by the Island Hotel’s Executive Chef David Mann. Underneath chandeliers, tables were set with bouquets of white amaryllis, quicksand cream roses, lavender, rosemary, olive branches and blackberries.
This year’s event featured an upgraded $10,000 table experience with paired wines from a single winery, a winery
representative to explain the wine pairings, an enhanced dinner menu, special glasses and décor. This VIP menu included a first course of lobster bisque with tarragon oil and lobster chunks followed by a beef filet with Bordelaise sauce paired with sea bass with beurre rouge sauce served with potato au gratin, zucchini, baby yellow squash, carrots and red pearl onions. Dessert was a trio of crémeux, sticky toffee pudding and vanilla bean crème brûlée.
Other tables enjoyed a roasted beet, Humboldt fog goat milk cheese, baby máche and curry dressing salad followed by a French coq au vin with potato au gratin, zucchini, baby yellow squash, carrot and red pearl onion. Dessert was a sticky toffee pudding with English toffee sauce and butter pecan ice cream alternated with crémeux, guanaja chocolate silky custard, salted caramel streusel, sassafras and whipped cream.
As guests dined, auctioneer Jim Nye conducted a live auction which again featured rare wine lots and one-of-a-kind wine trips.
Bid-cards were also raised one after the other in support of Pacific Symphony after the screening of a short video that offered an overview of the impact of the Symphony’s signature education program, Frieda Belinfante Class Act.
Gourmet chocolate and port were served to guests as they departed the festival.
“This was a spectacular evening,” said Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte. “It was wonderful that the symphony’s education programs were so visible. And our staff did a terrific job.”
For more information, visit Pacific Symphony.org.