The 2019 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival

A longing look back at a truly grand event

As Thanksgiving approaches, it is common practice to look at all the things in our lives that we are most thankful for. From family and friends, to job promotions and life-altering experiences, and more. In the world of food and drinks, 2019 has given us plenty of things to be thankful for. New restaurants have opened their doors, wines and spirits have given us fantastic new products to enjoy, and the various events and festivals have been better than ever. And the 2019 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival is a perfect example.

It has been a little more than a month since the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival closed the books on its 2019 event, and we still find ourselves longing for more. There is no shortage of great food and wine events that dot the calendar year for Southern California, but something about the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival (NBWFF) stands apart. The experience rides like the world’s longest flavorful rollercoaster, and quite frankly, we wish the ride would never end.

Spanning just about four days, there is a litany of events (16 in total) for guests to enjoy – each as varied as the last and with no shortage of substance or style. Fancy a morning at Pelican Hill Resort with Hubert Keller learning the finer points of Cristal and Petrossian Caviar. What about an evening at Balboa Bay Resort sampling dishes from some of the best celebrity chefs from Bravo’s “Top Chef” franchise? Wine tastings, dinners, meet-and-greets, and more all make up the long weekend of festivities, and while they are all wonderful in their own right, it is the Grand Tasting throughout the weekend where Newport Beach Wine & Food truly gets to flex its event muscles. 

Grand Tasting Pavilion

As soon as you enter the grounds of the Newport Beach Civic Center, the sensory overload is immediate and euphoric, like the first time experiencing the Las Vegas strip. In every direction is a cavalcade of the best wines at your fingertips, the best flavors from over 40 local chefs at the tip of your tongue, and a veritable who’s who of celebrity chefs and industry titans rubbing shoulders as everyone navigates the city of taste that is the Saturday and Sunday penultimate event. Within just 4 square feet, you could be sampling wines from Chateau Montelena while enjoying local flavors from Chef Ross Pangilinan, watching “Top Chef” season 14 winner Brooke Williamson and fellow “Top Chef” alum Shirley Chung demo onstage just as “Top Chef All-Stars” winner Chef Richard Blais bursts his way up, pausing along the way to take selfies with fans from all over – all in the span of five minutes.

Chef Richard Blais, doing Chef Richard Blais things.

If that example (which is exactly what happened to us, by the way) isn’t exciting enough for you, then we should also add the one thing NBWFF brings that you won’t find advertised – community. Every one of the nearly 7,000 guests next to you is there for the same reason, and many of them, especially on Sunday, work behind the scenes as architects of that very community we all love. Chefs with a day off, bar managers, sommeliers, suppliers, servers, designers, journalists, content creators and more are all within the bastion of Newport Beach Wine and Food. So as soon as you finish talking about the dish you just ate with the chef who made it, and momentarily ask yourself if that was Chef Art Smith that just passed you (and it was), you can turn to the stranger-turned-new-friend in line next to you and talk about that same bite – or you can talk about wine, or a chef’s booth you may have missed, or who is doing a cooking demo next.

So, mark your calendar now, because, while it may seem far off, Oct. 8 to 11 will be here before you know it. We have already asked Alexa, Siri and Google to remind us (did we forget anyone?) and so should you. We are beyond thankful it exists, and that we got to experience every aspect of its inner-workings. We hope to run into you there next year!

Follow @NewportBeachWineAndFood to be the first to hear about early bird ticket pricing, lineup announcements, and more throughout the year.

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