North Coast Wine and Food Fest a treat for all

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Maybe it was the palate cleanser of fresh strawberries, bright lemon, seltzer water and a dash of rhubarb bitters.

Or maybe it was the 90 gold-winning wines or the bites of 30 local chefs.

Or maybe it was the fact that after a two-year pandemic hiatus, the North Coast Wine & Food Festival had returned on a perfect day with bright blue skies with puffy white clouds.

“Everyone really wants to treat themselves right now,” said Daniel Riveros, who ran the Tsar Nicoulai Caviar stand, where guests gravitated to buckwheat blinis topped with caviar, crème fraîche and fresh flower petals.

“Our sales have exploded because people want to party, whether it’s caviar, champagne or fancy cuts of beef. People are just happy to be out.

And indeed they were.

More than 1,000 people attended the three-hour event at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts on Saturday, and judging from their comments, no one left hungry — or thirsty.

“It was the best wine event I’ve ever attended,” said Daniel Jasinski, an Air Force veteran who traveled from Rosemond for the event. “All wines are gold or double gold, so there isn’t a wine here that you won’t like.”

For Jasinski, however, the highlight was not the wine.

“I loved all the food, but the caviar was the best,” he said. “It was very fresh and sweet.”

Another big hit was the palate cleansers, offered by Oliver’s Market.

“Guest response has been excellent,” said Sara Cummings, Corporate Public and Community Relations Coordinator for Oliver’s Market. “People said they were a refreshing and unexpected treat.”

At the Harvey’s Donuts stand, guests waited patiently for pillow-soft miniature donuts, which arrived nestled in a red and white striped paper cone. Cinnamon sugar or chocolate zinfandel sauce were popular accompaniments for hot packets, which were made to order on Harvey’s vintage donut machine.

“There has been such pent-up demand for social events,” said Steve Falk, CEO and publisher of Sonoma Media Investments, the parent company of The Press Democrat, which helped launch the North Coast Wine Challenge a decade ago. year. “It’s great to see everyone here having a great time.”

As attendees roamed the event, they were especially eager to sample the best of the best North Coast Wine Challenge wines, most of which were on offer in the Sonoma Clean Power Winners Pavilion.

Armida winemaker Brandon Lapides, who was best in class for his 2019 Armida Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Stuhlmuller Vineyard, was thrilled to share his wine with guests.

“This is my first time pouring at this event,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to interact with the public and get an instant response. Winemakers don’t often get the opportunity to pour at events, so hearing their feedback is instant gratification.

Roth Wines, whose 2019 Heritage red wine in Sonoma County won first prize at the North Coast Wine Challenge, had a booth right at the entrance to the event – winemaker Michael Beaulac said to be “a pleasant surprise”.

“We are so excited to hear what people think of our wine. I have a feeling we’re going to pour a lot of that today,” he said.

“Where would you rather be in the entire United States than here, right now?” said winemaker Patrick Sullivan of Gray Stack Cellars in Sonoma County.

“It’s absolute paradise.”

You can reach editor Sarah Doyle at 707-521-5478 or [email protected]

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