Inaugural Del Mar Wine + Food Festival aims to mix food, wine, spirits and sports in weeklong event
The inaugural festival running Sept. 6-11 will have 18 events culminating in a two-day grand tasting event at Del Mar’s Surf Sports Park.
What happens when you put a bunch of native and longtime San Diegans together with the goal of creating a wide-ranging event that celebrates all of the things that make this county unique?
You end up with the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival, which will debut next Wednesday, Sept. 6 with six days of food, wine, spirits, lifestyle and, yes, sports events in Del Mar and beyond.
Besides a two-day grand tasting event at Del Mar’s Surf Sports Park and multiple celebrity chef-led dinners at area restaurants, there will be a charity pickleball tournament hosted by former Chargers quarterback Drew Brees; a beach cleanup organized by Del Mar surfing legend Rob Machado; a yoga and brunch event led by actress/chef Catherine McCord; and a kickoff event hosted by the San Diego Wave FC women’s soccer team captain and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan.
Troy Johnson — who with his wife, Claire, purchased San Diego Magazine in October 2021 — said the idea for the DMWFF was conceived about 18 months ago by he, Claire, San Diego entrepreneur Ernie Hahn; veteran festival and event promoter Chris Finn; Surf Sports executive Jeremy McDonald; and wine professional Ted Glennon.
“Call it quixotic or pie-eyed, but I thought we can do this and build this city into the cultural force that I know that it is,” said Johnson a native San Diegan who grew up in North County. “It’s been moaned about as a tourist town that wasn’t up to par with L.A., San Francisco and Portland, but I saw it differently. A year ago we formed the LLC and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger.”
For the food component, Johnson asked many of the celebrity chefs he has gotten to know locally and as a frequent host and judge on Food Network, including Richard Blais, Antonia Lafoso, Claudette Zepeda, Brian Malarkey, Aaron May, Brad Wise and Michelin-starred chefs Roberto Alcocer (of Valle in Oceanside) and Silvio Salmoiraghi (of Ambrogio by Acquerello in La Jolla). Several will host high-end dinners around town and some will join the more than 100 San Diego County restaurants and 200 wineries that will be offering samples at the grand tasting events (half of the restaurants will be featured on day one, and the other half on day two).
“Breaking Bad” co-stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul will also host a sold-out Baja-inspired pairings dinner featuring their Dos Hombres Mezcal brand of spirits. And the opening night event at Del Mar Plaza will celebrate the Wave FC players, many of whom recently competed in the Women’s World Cup.
Johnson said it’s been a “roller coaster ride” organizing the tremendously expensive and challenging event, but ticket sales are going well. He said the founders’ goal is to make the DMWFF an annual event, and to also produce one-off DMFWW events throughout the year.
“We have big plans,” he said. “We dream big and terrify ourselves, and then somehow through true grit, lack of sleep, caffeine and leaning on everyone’s Rolodexes, we tend to get it done.”
Del Mar Wine + Food Festival
When: Wednesday, Sept. 6, through Sept. 11
Tickets: Prices vary by event
- San Diego Wave FC Opening Night Celebration — 6-9 p.m. Wednesday. Monarch Ocean Pub, Del Mar Plaza, 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar; $225.
- Tequila Reserva de la Familia and Adobe Guadalupe Wine-Paired Dinner at Michelin star chef Roberto Alcocer’s Valle — 6:30-10 p.m. Sept. 7. 222 N. Pacific St., Oceanside; $360.
- Drew Brees’ Whispering Angel Celebrity Pickleball Tournament — Noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 8. Bobby Riggs Racket & Paddle Club, 875 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas; $100 and up.
- Grand Tastings — 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 9-10. Surf Sports Park, 14989 Via de la Valle, Del Mar; $225 and up.
- Rob Machado Beach Cleanup at Cardiff Reef and Seafood brunch with chefs Brian Malarkey and Aidan Owens at Herb & Sea — 7:30 to 11 a.m. Sept. 10. Encinitas; $95.
Full schedule and tickets online at: delmar.wine
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