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Guitar greats Peter White and Marc Antoine combined their talents for “Guitar Tango” night at Thornton Winery in Temecula. Photos by Frank Mangio
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival coming up

This 14th annual wine and food festival is easily the Olympics of wine and food.  Actually it’s better than the Olympics, because you get to touch, feel, smell and taste each of the great presentations up front and personal.

This is San Diego at its best, the ultimate venue for seven days of events at restaurants, resorts, convention halls and outdoor parks. You will enjoy classes, dinners, expeditions and multiple tasting events. The founders also raise funds and award scholarships to students seeking to further their careers.

Many thousands will attend the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Nov. 12-19 highlighted by the Grand Tasting at downtown San Diego’s Embarcadero Park on Saturday Nov. 18.

The legendary Grand Tasting is Saturday Nov. 18 at the Embarcadero Park behind Seaport Village at San Diego Bay, from noon to 3 p.m. (early admission  at 11 a.m. is available). This international wine and food gathering offers visitors more than 200 wineries, breweries and spirits, with San Diego’s best 70  restaurants. In intense cooking competition, a “Chef of the Fest” will be named in showdown judging for cash, prizes and bragging rights. Everything about this event makes it Olympic size!

Another must-attend is the Somm/Con premium wine tasting Friday Nov. 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis & Marina hotel on Harbor Drive.  Guests will be tasting from more than 100 wine and beer producers from around the world, while visitors mix and mingle with many of the sommeliers who attend the Somm/Con wine seminars Wednesday Nov. 15 through Friday Nov. 17.

Many San Diego restaurants will be hosting novel and delicious food and wine themes throughout the week. I want to underline one that I would like you to seek out: The Marine Room on the beach in La Jolla. This one-of-a-kind dining experience, run by Master Chef Bernard Guillas, is planning a five-course Ocean to Table wine paired lunch with chefs from throughout San Diego, each preparing a sustainable seafood dish. There will be 10 chefs in all and it will be the culinary experience of the week. Call the Marine Room at (619) 312-1212 to get the whole story.

For a complete schedule of each day’s events with pricing and other considerations, go to


Cheers to John and Steve Thornton, and to Director of Events Tonya Wake, for another stellar year of big show jazz at Thornton Winery in Temecula.


• Il Fornaio at the Del Mar Plaza is hosting its next Festa Regionale, and this month it’s the food and wine of Piemonte. Join Chef Roberto Gerbino from now through the Nov. 21 including dishes with the famous white truffles and Tagliatelle pastas. The wines include the renowned Barbaresco and Barbera. RSVP at (858) 755-8876.

• A benefit wine and food tasting, to support winery workers who were victims of the recent Sonoma fires will be held at Bernardo Winery from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 12  in Rancho Bernardo. Twenty-two other San Diego wineries and local restaurants will also be at the winery to donate their services, food and wine. One hundred percent of the online ticket sales will go to this important cause. Tickets for WINE AID 2017 are on sale at for $50 per ticket. At the door tickets will be $60 each. For more details, contact Samantha Nawrocki at [email protected], or call (858) 487-1866.

• Wine Vault and Bistro in San Diego is planning a Saxon Brown Dinner with winemaker and owner Jeff Gaffner from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 13. Five-course dinner for $69.50. RSVP at (619) 295-3939.

• Il Fornaio in Coronado has a St Supery Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16. This winery is one of the best in Napa Valley and will be paired with an Italian feast including a spiny lobster marinated with tomato au gratin. Cost is $65 per guest.  RSVP at (619) 437-4911.

• Meritage Wine Market  in Encinitas takes you through a single vineyard Pinot Noir wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 17. Enjoy the highest quality Pinots with four to six glasses served for $30 per person, $20 for members. Call (760) 479-2500.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web.  View his columns at Go to menu then columns. Reach him at [email protected]