This past weekend was quite possibly too much fun. Despite two separate Friends-giving celebrations, I had tickets to the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival compliments of Cooking Light, one of the platinum sponsors of the event. I had been warned that it was one of San Diego’s premier events. Some even compared it to ComicCon — crazy! Well, after a few hours at the Grand Tasting event down at Sea Port Village this past Saturday, I think I can see why.
San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival Overview
While I just participated in the Grand Tasting, the entire festival actually includes 25 separate events over an entire seven day period. From cooking lessons to private tasting dinners, there is no shortage of fine food and wine to be enjoyed. In 2014, over 5K people participated just the Grand Tasting event! I’d say there easily could have been the case again this year, the place was packed. But the space is large and there are 150 wineries and 60 local resaturates featuring their finest treats, so there is plenty to go around and lines were really not much of a problem.
The spreads are great, portions are huge and the wine is flowing. It’s certainly not an event you could make it to every weekend, as it’s full of indulgences. But as a one-off, special celebration with great friends, it’s definitely a great way to spend an afternoon and try dozens and dozens of new wines and fine bites of local cuisine.
Tips for Getting the Most out of the festival
- Don’t go hungry. I know that sounds counter intuitive since I just said it’s overly indulgent, but it’s really the best line of defense. Showing up at an event like this ravenous, you’d be hard pressed to not stuff yourself past the point of comfort in a matter of minutes and not be able to enjoy everything in moderation.
- Take your time. The event is 12-3, but you can purchase early entry and get in an hour early. That I think, is a good idea. It’s less crowded and keeps you from feeling like you need to move quickly. The wine makers are present and ready to show off their best stuff, so it’s lovely to take the time to get to know who’s pouring your wine and their unique story.
- Bring a bag. They hand out Macy’s paper bags for treats, coupon and samples but it got heavy and was a pain to carry. Something large that is more comfortable would be much nicer to have. Next year, I’ll bring my work bag. Here’s a small sample of what made it home. Legit #festivalbandit!
- Have a home base. If you go with a large group, trying to stay together would be a waste of a lot of energy and source of frustration. Instead, just pick a spot for home base and revisit to chill out when you want to take a short break. Have someone bring a blanket so you can sit and relax a bit.
- Wear a hat. I can’t say that it will always be 80 degrees the day of this festival in late November, but it was this year. And there is not much shade so a hat would be nice.
- Hydrate. There is plenty of bottled water and you can also bring in your own. Alcohol and heat can be taxing and staying hydrated will be your best line of defense.
- Hand Sanitizer. Now, I’m not always the hugest advocate of overusing hand sanitizer, but in this case, there was no water in the sinks outside the restrooms and there is a LOT of finger food going around. A little spritzer goes a long way on days like this.
Getting to the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival
The grand tasting event is hosted down at Sea Port Village at the Embarcadero. It’s easy to take a car service down there to avoid parking issues, as most of the lots would be metered and it’s on a Saturday. If this looks like fun, I’d say visit the San Diego Bay’s Wine and Food Festival’s web site and stay in the loop on 2016 dates and make it a priority. It really was a super fun event. Thank you so much to Cooking Light for giving me the opportunity to check it out and share my thoughts!
What’s your favorite Food and Wine Festival? Maybe I should get on an airplane and go check on out…
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