Wine, food fest laden with celebrities, entertainment


The sixth annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival returns downtown Nov. 18-22.

Billed as the largest event of its kind in Southern California, the festival will feature 170 wineries, 70 of the finest dining establishments from around San Diego, live entertainment, exclusive tasting opportunities and more. The Grand Tasting, a signature event of the festival, takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Embarcadero Park North, behind Seaport Village. Tents will line the bay offering gourmands the opportunity to taste some of the best food in the region, including items from restaurants such as Donovan’s Steak and Chop House, Roy’s Downtown San Diego, Oceanaire, and The Prado, among dozens more.

Also at The Grand Tasting are wines and spirits from around the world and close to home. Local favorites such as St. Petersburg Russian Vodka and Orfila Vineyards and Winery will be offering samples alongside international stars such as Whitehaven Wine Company and Veramonte Winery. From Albarino to Zinfandel, an estimated 800 wines will be available to sample.

Educational opportunities continue to be a large part of festival offerings. Featured among the wine classes is one from local wine professional and author John Alonge who will lead Brandt Beef and Big Red Wines on Nov. 19 at The San Diego Wine and Culinary Center. Other wine classes include subjects such as Paso Robles, saki and a Charles Krug Winery vertical tasting.

Television star Sam Zien, aka Sam the Cooking Guy, is again involved with the festival as a celebrity chef instructor. His subject this year is Holiday Brunch, a class designed to take the stress out of seasonal entertaining.

“The festival is everything that is good with food in San Diego all combined in one,” said Zien. “It is in one of the prettiest spots in San Diego with the best food in San Diego.”

New for attendees is the availability of a Wine Weekend Getaway package. Options include choices of downtown hotels, VIP amenities, select classes and more.

The festival has a proud history of supporting a local scholarship program administered by the San Diego Chapter of The American Institute of Wine and Food. Two events, The Master Sommelier Reserve Tasting and The Big Bottle Live Auction, support scholarships for culinary and enology students. To date, more than $125,000 has been raised for this program.

On the Web

Mark Stuart is a certified wine professional. Send story ideas or feedback to