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Hot Ticket: Toasting The 3 Tastiest Food And Wine Festivals For Fall

Head west already – where the top gourmand-loving festivities are about to kick off.

Thanks to the weather gods, the temperatures are still warm out west, making California the perfect spot for the yummiest food and wine tasting events this fall. Sunny skies, yummy local wines, celebrity chefs – there were an embarrassment of riches to choose from for the ultimate foodie California getaway. But we scouted three favorites for the top of your list: The Napa Valley Film Festival, Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Pismo Beach’s Bubblyfest by the Sea. Starting early October, you’ll be able to savor fine fare, meet master sommeliers, and celebrate the cinematic arts like a VIP. You’d better book now – festivals this good are bound to sell out.


Wine Tasting Event

The Napa Valley Film Festival
Napa Valley, Calif.

Make your plans for the special 5th anniversary Napa Valley Film Festival now – choice hotels book up fast. The five-day event across northern California wine country’s most famous four towns (the only event that spans from downtown Napa all the way up to Calistoga) takes place Wednesday, November 11 through Sunday, November 15. I fell in love with this wine-fueled, great film-packed event last year, and this time I’m planning on seeing the opening night’s screening of the world premiere of SOMM: Into the Bottle at the historic Uptown Theatre in Napa. Don’t skip the VIP after-party. “We have sommeliers coming from all over the world,” says co-founder Brenda Lhormer. “The party will have the best wines you will ever drink.” Other exciting offerings include the festival gala, VIP dinners around the valley, and fascinating film industry panels—I can’t wait to hear what women filmmakers have to say about surviving in a male-dominated field. “We have so many great films,” Lhormer said. On her list? Don’t miss Carol (starring Cate Blanchett), Cannes hit Youth with Michael Caine and Jane Fonda, the sweet love story Tumbledown, and the inspiring documentary A Place to Stand about a man who turned his life around in prison. Then it’s time to relax. In Napa tradition, there’s a break in movie showings every day between 3-5 so everyone can hit the wine tents for some delicious vino. Make sure you pay respects to the Lombardi Trophy Tour, too, as northern California is hosting the Super Bowl next year. And show up early for the Bottle Shock: The Musical concert. Co-founders Brenda and Marc Lhormer co-produced the iconic film, which is what pulled them into starting this grand festival to begin with.


Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival
Newport Beach, Calif.

Newport Food & Wine Festival
The Newport Food & Wine Festival. Delicious food and weather delights.

When top chefs (Rick Moonen, Hubert Keller) and sommeliers (Thomas Price, Michael Jordan) get together to serve you their best, you’ll want to be in place. Now in its second year, the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival will commence on Friday, October 2. Wine and dine all weekend long at Orange County’s premier foodie fest, where snagging a ticket to check out the Mexican cuisine cooking demonstration (or book signing) by chef Rick Bayless, and getting in on one of the mixology courses with Tricia Carr, is a must. Newport Beach is charmingly picturesque, the perfect setting for such an exquisite event. And if this summer’s preview party was any indication, the food is going to be absolutely sublime.


Pismo wine tasting eventBubblyfest by the Sea
Pismo Beach, Calif.

To commemorate its second year, Bubblyfest by the Sea will be popping corks Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October 3. Currently the only sparkling wine or champagne event in the US, this treat is an absolute must for bubbly fans. Celebrate by raising your flute to top sommeliers, in addition to fun educational seminars and delicious dinners. Our favorite events in the lineup include the Gatsby-inspired Cocktails & Corks party (where you’ll sip four sparkling wine concoctions), the Grand Tasting (snag a souvenir glass and be sure to attend the workshop on sabering) and the Bubbly at Sunset: Sparkling Wine Dinner, where you’ll delight in a four-course meal paired with nontraditional sparkling vinos (think Opolo, Halcyon, Riverbench, Solminer) at The Oyster Loft. With more than 50 sparkling wine and champagne producers present, you’ll be in for a fantastic time. So take your champagne campaign straight to Pismo Beach (on the Central Coast north of Santa Barbara). Cheers!

Tell us some of your favorite wine tasting events below.

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