16 Best Food and Wine Festival Events in California Before Summer is Here

  • Events
  • by HANA-LEE SEDGWICK
  • on JANUARY 28, 2020
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BottleRock, Courtesy of Michael Drummond
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Whether or not you call the Golden State your home, you’ll want to spend time in California this winter and spring. The “off-season” in California shines bright, and not only because of those sunshine-filled days — there are tons of fun food and wine festivals this time of year worth noting. From San Diego to Sonoma and everywhere in between, here are our picks for California’s best food and wine festivals to experience before summer is officially here. After all, there’s no better way to kick those winter blues away than by having something fun to look forward to.

Carmel

Food prep at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Courtesy of Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Pebble Beach Food & Wine

April 16 – 19, 2020
Pebble Beach
Cost: $150 – $1,750+

One of California’s biggest wine and food festivals returns for its 13th year, welcoming 100 celebrity chefs and 250 acclaimed wineries for four days of hedonistic fun. From cooking demos to wine seminars, massive grand tastings to exclusive after parties, PBFW is one impressive epicurean experience you won’t want to miss.

Napa Valley

Sushi from Morimoto at BottleRock Napa Valley, Courtesy of Tim Hans

Taste of Yountville

March 21, 2020
Yountville
Cost: $175

Napa Valley’s culinary capital packs a flavorful punch during the 27th annual Taste of Yountville, when over 50 restaurants, wineries, and musical performers gather in one spot to celebrate Napa’s best food and wine. Whether you come to sample bites from celebrity chefs, to learn a new culinary skill during a cooking demonstration, taste wine from world-class producers, or listen to live music, Taste of Yountville is sure to delight all the senses.

BottleRock Napa Valley

May 22 – 24, 2020
Napa Valley Expo
Tickets: Prices vary, sold out

Though BottleRock Napa Valley is first-and-foremost a music festival, there’s no denying that this popular Napa Valley festival brings it when it comes to food and beverages. Many of Napa’s most acclaimed restaurants will be on-hand to dish out tasty fare for hungry festival-goers, and there will be plenty of world-class wine, craft beer, and spirits to keep the party going strong. BottleRock Napa Valley may be sold out, but if you did snag a ticket in time, you’ll be rewarded with mouthwatering fare, wine, and an incredible lineup of live music to fill your heart’s desire.

 WineCountry Inspo: Before you reserve a Napa Valley hotel room, check out our exclusive WineCountry hotel perks. When you book using one of our promo codes, you can enjoy perks like complimentary room upgrades, in-room bottles of wine, and spa credits at a number of Napa Valley’s best hotels and inns.

Palm Springs

Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, Courtesy of Greater Palm Springs

Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival

March 27 – 29, 2020
Agua Caliente Casino
Cost: Prices vary, $40+

Now in its 10th year, Palm Desert Food & Wine is a gastronomic celebration showcasing cuisine from regional chefs, premium wine, craft beer, and more. Here, you’ll be able to watch cooking demos, sip craft brews and wine, and nosh on treats from some of the nation’s top chefs, including Carla Hall, Elizabeth Falkner, and Curtis Stone. Though your tastebuds will be pleased, Palm Desert Food & Wine isn’t all about the epicurean delights; proceeds from the event benefit the Coachella Valley FIND Food Bank.

Paso Robles

Courtesy of Hospice du Rhone

2020 Rhone Rangers Experience

February 16, 2020
Paso Robles Event Center
Cost: $48 – $101

The 2020 Rhone Rangers Experience is a fun and educational one-day event in Paso Robles, providing the opportunity to taste and learn about American Rhône varietal wines from the people who produce them. This year’s event includes a wine luncheon, seminar, grand tasting, and silent auction, with over 75 producers pouring wine for attendees to sip and savor.

Vintage Paso Zinfandel Weekend

March 20 – 22, 2020
Various Wineries in Paso Robles
Cost: $45 – $80

Vintage Paso pays homage to California’s heritage grape through a variety of zinfandel-focused experiences. Complete with a seminar, winemaker luncheon, and various events at different wineries, Vintage Paso promises you’ll have plenty of tasty zinfandel wines to enjoy over the weekend (and likely some purple-stained teeth, too).

Hospice du Rhône Paso Robles

April 23 – 25, 2020
Paso Robles Event Center
Cost: $100+; $995 for a weekend pass

Hospice du Rhône is a must for anyone who adores Rhône varietals, where over 150 national and international Rhône producers gather in Paso for a full weekend of wine-fueled fun. Expect a variety of educational seminars led by panels of winemakers, a rosé paired lunch, live auction, and spirited dinners at this much-loved biannual event.

 WineCountry Inspo: Need a place to stay in Paso Robles? Read our picks for the 10 Best Hotels & Inns in Paso Robles.

San Diego

Uncorked Wine Festival, Courtesy of Uncorked

Uncorked: San Diego Wine Festival

March 28, 2020
Embarcadero Marina Park North, San Diego
Cost: $60; $75 for VIP

This jovial wine festival features over 200 wines and ciders from around the world (including a bubbly bar featuring a variety of sparkling wines), as well as a live DJ and several local food trucks. Even more, Uncorked benefits the local non-profit, Urban Surf 4 Kids, so you can drink for a good cause.

California Wine Festival

May 29 – 30, 2020
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Golf Club & Spa, Carlsbad
Cost: Tickets go on sale February 15, 2020

The California Wine Festival returns to San Diego County, kicking off with a classy sunset and rare wine affair featuring some harder-to-find wines from around the world. On Saturday, the fun continues with a lively beachside wine tasting, with over 100 wines, regional craft beers, food, and live music. If you can’t make it to this event in May, there’s one taking place the month prior in Dana Point.

San Francisco

Courtesy of San Francisco Wine Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting

February 15, 2020
Fort Mason Center
Cost: $75 – $95

The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine competition in the largest competition of North American wines in the world, with over 7,000 wines evaluated by a panel of wine judges from across the country. The public tasting, held in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, features more than 1,500 gold-medal winners on-hand for wine loves to sample over the course of a few hours.

Santa Barbara

World of Pinot Noir, Courtesy of Tenley Fohl Photography

World of Pinot Noir

March 5 – 7, 2020
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort
Cost: $65+; $1,500 for a weekend pass

The annual World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) returns to Santa Barbara for yet another year of educational seminars, luncheons, grand tastings, and multi-course dinners centered around — you guessed it — pinot noir. Featuring more than 250 wineries from around the globe and plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in all things pinot, it’s the place to be if you’re a fan of Burgundy’s famed grape.

Santa Barbara Culinary Experience

March 13 – 15, 2020
Various locations throughout Santa Barbara
Cost: Prices vary, $40 – $350; $995 for a Platinum Pass

This inaugural three-day event, held in partnership with The Julia Child Foundation, is inspired by one-time Santa Barbara resident Julia Child and her love of food and drink. The aptly named Culinary Experience features a curated collection of special events and flavorful classes celebrating the bounty of the region — think empanada making and fermentation basics — each designed to enrich, educate, and entertain.

 WineCountry Inspo: If Santa Barbara is calling your name, take a moment to read our First-Time Visitor’s Guide to Santa Barbara for all the best places to sip, eat, play, and stay.

Sonoma

Artisan Cheese Festival, Courtesy of California Artisan Cheese Festival

Garagiste Festival: Northern Exposure

February 15, 2020
Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Hall, Sonoma
Cost: $65 – $90; $130 for VIP pass

For a chance to taste hard-to-find wines from up-and-coming producers, head to the 3rd annual Garagiste Festival in Sonoma. At this intimate event, you’ll be able to taste small-production wines from throughout Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz, all made by small, passionate producers worth discovering.

California Artisan Cheese Festival

March 27 – 29, 2020
Sonoma County Event Center, Santa Rosa
Cost: $25 – $150

Dairy fans, take note: the California Artisan Cheese Festival returns to Santa Rosa for the 14th time, fulfilling every cheese lover’s fantasies with a full weekend of cheese-fueld fun. From chef demos to farm and creamery tours, cheese tastings to competitions, the Artisan Cheese Festival is a chance to immerse oneself in California’s artisan cheese producers from one convenient spot.

 WineCountry Inspo: Looking for a delicious experience to enjoy in Sonoma on your own terms? The Gourmet Food & Wine Tour Sonoma is a guided progressive restaurant experience, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy four farm-to-table courses paired with wine.

Temecula

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, Courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley

Pechanga’s 12th Annual Chocolate Decadence & Wine Festival

March 6 – 7, 2020
Pechanga Resort, Temecula
Cost: $60 – $90; $35 – $40 for designated driver tickets

Chocoholics and wine lovers won’t want to miss this annual two-day event at Pechanga Resort, which kicks off Friday with a tasty selection of chocolates and pastries, sparkling wines, spirits, and dessert wines. The revelry continues into Saturday, which is all about the wine, offering a global selection of wines to sample alongside an array of culinary creations from Pechanga Resort’s chefs.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

May 29 – 31, 2020
Lake Skinner Regional Park, Temecula Valley
Cost: Prices vary, $35 – $200+

This three-day festival brings together hot air balloons and wine, as the name implies, plus live music, food, and fun for a unique celebration in Temecula Valley. Take a sunrise balloon tour, then spend the afternoon sampling wine, enjoying live entertainment, or partaking in a wine barrel race. It’s all possible at this much-loved Temecula Valley tradition, now celebrating its 37th year.

 WineCountry Inspo: Need more Temecula inspiration? Check out the 12 Best Temecula Wineries to Visit or learn how to have The Perfect Weekend Getaway in Old Town Temecula.


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Author

Hana-Lee Sedgwick

Hana-Lee Sedgwick is a writer and editor based in her hometown of Santa Barbara, California. Specializing in all things wine, food, and travel, her work regularly appears in publications such as Santa Barbara Magazine, The Tasting Panel, and Edible. Whether for work or play, she never tires of exploring California wine country. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderandwine or visit her blog, wanderandwine.com.

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