The Del Mar Wine & Food Festival, a six-day event highlighting the San Diego region’s culinary scene, wrapped up this weekend after drawing thousands of foodies and wine enthusiasts in its inaugural year.
Born out of San Diego Magazine CEO Troy Johnson’s ambitious plans for a high-level celebration of the local gastronomic industry, the first annual Del Mar Wine & Food Festival kicked off the busy week with around 20 different small-group tastings and paired dinners hosted by celebrity chefs, actors and athletes.
It then culminated with a two-day “grand tasting” on Sept. 9 and 10 at Surf Cup Sports Park, an all-you-can-eat-and-drink event featuring more than 200 restaurants, wineries and other food and beverage vendors.
Over 4,700 people from San Diego County attended between the two days, giving them access to a wide array of high-end wines and gourmet food.
The exhibiting restaurants were made up largely of Johnson’s own favorites from the San Diego area, who jumped at the chance to participate. Chef Christophe Cevasco, founder of Beeside Balcony in Del Mar and La Jolla, drew a crowd with his small plates of grilled Spanish octopus, bacon and potato on a bed of arugula and white truffle oil.
“We were very excited about it [the festival]. It’s such a big deal, and it’s great to see everyone here,” Cevasco said.
Local taco restaurant chain Puesto also exhibited at the Grand Tasting, cooking blue corn tortillas as part of their sampling menu. Puesto social media manager Mandie Gellar said the turnout for the event’s opening year was impressive.
“This amount of turnout for a first year is amazing. We’re excited to see what comes next year,” Gellar said.
While there was plenty to imbibe and feast on for Grand Tasting general attendees — single-day tickets started at $175 — those seeking a more exclusive experience in the VIP tent could enjoy elevated tasting experiences with demonstrations by gourmet chefs for $425.
Tiffany Baird, who came to the festival from Orange County, said she was very impressed by all the Del Mar Wine & Food Festival already had to offer.
“We’ve been to other food and wine festivals, and for the first annual, it’s spectacular,” Baird said.
Small group events throughout the week drew around 800 additional attendees.
These included a paired mezcal dinner hosted by former “Breaking Bad” co-stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, a wine-paired dinner with chefs Claudette Zepeda and Antonia Lofaso, and a pickleball tournament led by former NFL quarterback Drew Brees.
A portion of the proceeds from the festival are being donated to Feeding San Diego. Festival representatives have not yet confirmed how much money was raised.
More photos from the Del Mar Wine & Food Festival