Frugal Epicurean Delight: The Big Sur Wine & Food Festival

bigsur bottle

The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival Returns for its Fifth Year

In November 2012 I was privileged to attend the Big Sur Wine and Food Festival.   It’s no hardship to travel to the Big Sur coast, one of the most beautiful part of the world. Delicious wines, gourmet food and the beautiful scenery of Big Sur makes this event one of the best wine events not only in California, but in the US.  Now in its fifth year, the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival is a frugal foodie’s dream come true.  For the price of a flat rate ticket, attendees can enjoy some of California’s best wines and dishes from some of California’s best Chefs.   The festival kickoffs on Nov 7th with a special evening called The Gateway to Big Sur at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands.

Gateway to Big Sur

Great views plus excellent food and wine are featured at The Gateway to Big Sur event.


The Gateway to Big Sur  on Thursday, Nov 7 features 42 wineries and 20 different chefs preparing epicurean delights.  The opening night of of the festival is presented by the Hyatt Carmel Highlands in their gorgeous restaurant overlooking Big Sur.  The event features a variety of tasting stations from some of the West Coast’s top chefs. The Gateway to Big Sur is on November 7, 2013 and is being held at the exquisite Hyatt Carmel Highlands this year from 5:30 to 9 PM.  Tickets to this Gala Opening Night Event are $125. To reserve your tickets please follow go to the festival website  in order to ensure you don’t miss out. You can also reserve tickets for all the other events on the festival website. Some of the tasting highlights from last year’s event included lavender cookies from Ben Spungin of Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus of Carmel Valley, delicious cheese from the Carmel Cheese Shop,  foie gras torchon with caramelized banana and beet gastrique from Brandon Miller of Mundaka (pictured above),  anti-pasta from Jason Balestrieri of  Cantinetta Luca, local seafood (abalone) prepared by the Hyatt Chefs and delicious local California/Carmel/Monterey wines (Bernadus, Melville, Hahn Estates, The Hitching Post and Talbott to name just a few.)

But the Gateway to Big Sur event is only the kick-off to the festival’s activities.  With 22 events over 4 days, there’s plenty going on along the rugged Big Sur coast.   Here’s a look at some of  my favorite festival highlights.

Pinot Walkabout

Scenes from the 2012 Pinot Walkabout at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur.

  • The Pinot WalkaboutPresented by LexusFri Nov 8, 12-3pm.  This event offers a small and intimate stroll around the Post Ranch Inn’s small but glorious kitchen garden with 30 top Pinot producers.  We tried some exquisite Pinot Noirs at this event last year including Melville, Hahn Estate , Roederer Estate, Hirsch Vineyards, Testarossa,  Fink Family, Otter Cove, Ghostwriter, and Talbott. Just make sure to bring some crackers as there is plenty of wine served.  Last year we got to sample some incredible Point Reyes Blue Cheese from Marin County along with the delicious wines.  This year’s event will feature Chef John Cox of the Post Ranch Inn.
  •  The Wine & Swine dinner at the Henry Miller library Fri Nov 8, 6pm featuring delicious dishes prepared by five chefs, using hogs from the 100% sustainable farms of Niman Ranch, all matched to the wines of ten to fifteen wineries.  I expect this event to be a sell-out again this year.
  • The Hiking With Stemware tour  Rancho Rico, Fri Nov 8, 11am-3:30pm SOLD-OUT already, but may be possible to wait-list.  This wine tour takes guests on to magical and very private private properties for guided hikes with lunch included. For those who do not wish to be so “exertive”, the Magical Mystery Tours will be luxury shuttles ferrying people to other private and exclusive, well-hidden homes here along the coast, with wine and tapas at each stop.
  • Lexus Grand Public Tasting at Post Ranch Inn, Sun Nov 10, 12-3pm  This is a frugal foodie and wine lover’s dream. For the flat rate price of $85.00, you get to spend your Sunday afternoon tasting great food (the Haute Enchilda, Lucienne, Jerry Regester’s C Restaurant & Hungry Girl Kitchen) and wine to your heart’s content.  Unlike many festivals I have been too, the quality of the food here was superb.  Wines featured at last year’s Grand Public Tasting included:  Carpe Diem, The Hitching Post, McIntyre, Hahn Estates, Hearst, and more.

I’ve already made my plans to join the festivities in November and hope to see you there in Big Sur.  I’ll be live Tweeting all the tastings and you can follow me online to get the details at Twitter @Recessionista.

If you’re traveling to Big Sur, look for reasonable accommodations for the festival at the Hyatt Monterey. Discounted accommodations are available at the The Inn At Del Monte Beach ~ Hotel 1110  and the Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites.  Mention that you will be attending the Big Sur Wine fest to receive discounts.

Big Sur Food and Wine Festival benefits the local Big Sur Community.  Since its inception five years ago, the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival has raised over $100,000 for the Big Sur Community.

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