50 Friends events combines wine, food and music

50 Friends events combines wine, food and music
Jeff Moore performing in the 50 Friends Vineyard. Photo courtesy 50 Friends

About a year ago I was asked by Rancho Santa Fe resident JoAnne King to power the band at an event she was hosting with a mobile solar station I have access to. 

This was not just any event, it was being held in a vineyard on her property with great food and stunning views. How could I say no to an invitation like that?

The event was one of her many 50 Friends events held every summer. 50 Friends is a concept JoAnne hatched to invite 50 friends to cultivate vacant land around her home, dig some dirt, move some rocks, plant some vines, make a vineyard and share the wine! That is the nutshell version of course. 50 Friends is a unique co-op experience in San Diego County. People buy in, they work the land, have fun and drink good wine and food.

The event was one-of-a-kind and really fun and they are open to the public. Here is a conversation I had with JoAnne about 50 Friends.

LTP: This is unique twist on the co-op concept. Where was your first exposure to a vineyard cooperative?

JK: Actually, the 50 Friends concept is our first exposure to such a thing. It seems many of our talented friends had dreamed of the romance of owning a vineyard in some fashion. The hold back was the immensity of working the land and maintaining highest quality fruit without much additional assistance and guidance. We thought we’d give it a go together … and help support our local winemakers.

LTP: So you had the concept, a nice plot of land to grow grapes, how did it all come together?

JK: On Valentine’s Day in 2011, we circulated a small prospectus to a handful of our friends and neighbors offering partnerships in this fun winegrowing adventure. Then one friend told another friend and it spread like wildfire until, indeed, we had 50 friends all eager to buy in to the concept and build a vineyard from the ground up, by hand, no less.

LTP: What type of grapes are you growing and what kind of wine do you bottle?

JK: Our inaugural vintage will be a Merlot, which we handpicked from Sunrise Vineyard in Escondido. Our grapes will not be ready for three more years. This forces our hands to reach out to other SD County winegrowers and create blends: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Malbec, and even a Chardonnay for those white wine lovers amongst us.

LTP: Bringing top area chefs on board to cook for your 50 Friends events is a perfect complement to the wine element. Which local chefs have you utilized and who do you have on tap for upcoming events?

JK: Yes, one local achievement led us to celebrate the talent of other of our 50 Friends who excel in culinary expertise. Jay Berman is friend No. 3, and the proprietor of Seaside Spice in Cardiff. He is a fine chef in his own right who caters within the county and

creates beautiful dishes. Another talented chef is Susan Faeber, our friend No. 5 who not only cooks, but also is director of the Healing Foods Kitchen at Moore’s Cancer Center.

LTP: Your events combine a beautiful outdoor location right in the vineyard, great food and wine, and great area bands. What bands have you booked for these parties?

JK: We are fortunate to boast talented musicians amongst our 50 Friends. Our first event on May 12 was a huge hit with Jeff Moore’s Witchdoctors. Jeff is friend No. 15 and if you missed him, he’ll be returning Aug. 11 for an encore performance. Our June 9 festival touts Cathouse Thursday, friend No. 8. Our July 14 event brings back Aftershock Seven. We are privileged to have Stellar Solar providing our electricity to the stage at all of the events right at the top of our vineyard.

LTP: 50 Friends are open to everyone, how do they find out about and RSVP for the events?

JK: All local San Diegans are invited to join us as the group is quite inclusive. It’s about celebrating our collective local talents while enjoying the pacific sunsets, fine dining, dancing and musical entertainment. Each of our events is posted on our website at 50Friendsrsf.com.

Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday-Friday during the 7pm hour.
David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at david@artichoke-creative.com or (858) 395-6905.


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  1. Reese Brothers says:

    As one of the 50Friends, I go to all our events. Word of mouth spreads and more people come, and each time seems to be more fun! All in all, it’s an awesome endeavor, the vineyard, the learning, the people, and these events; such a great way to bring our community together. I’ve met some really great people and it feels wonderful to share this experience. I can only imagine how good it’s going to be when we are producing wine from our own grapes! Wahoo!

  2. JoAnne says:

    We are so blessed to be surrounded by such talent as this! Like Reese, we’ve also attended the parties as well as numerous educational events and field trips. We agree that the parties, music, culinary, and camaraderie just get better and better. In a few years our own grapes will be ready to drink. Come join us now while the gettin’ is so much fun!

  3. marget says:

    i am also one of 50 friends and these parties are amazing…..great music, reat wine, great food, and mostly great people! come find out about the best thing going on….a community of winemakers! or at least a community of wine lovers and weekd pullers and rock movers….fun people anyway. next event is june 9….be there or be square.

  4. Ane says:

    The parties and people are great! It is a wonderful outdoor venue with talented musicians, plenty of dancing and of course, wine. Who could ask for more?

  5. Alec says:

    Come on!!! Drinking wine, talking wine, making wine with cool friends, what could be better? Lots of fun, great experience….see you guys on the 9th for our next party

  6. Victor says:

    Beautiful setting- food,music and wine=all good!..

  7. Roxanne says:

    “50 Friends” is such an amazing effort with terrific people behind our vines, and spectacular, fun events. I can’t wait for these occasions- lively entertainment, tasty food, good wine, stellar views, and meeting interesting people. See you soon at a 50 Friends event!

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