The excitement is building.  The 9th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, five days of  celebration of the joy of food and wine, will be with us soon.  

A small army of chefs and wine makers will flood San Diego with unforgettable tasting.  200 wineries pouring over 1,000 different wines, breweries, spirits and 70 of the country’s culinary greats, will create over 25 city-wide events for a luxury liner of events and offerings unlike any other.

If you can only attend one event, make it the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, November 17 at the Embarcadero Park behind SeaportVillage.  It’s a love-fest of wineries, celebrity chefs, over 100 restaurants and live music from two stages.  Admission is as early as 11 am to 3pm.
Look for great wines from many parts of the world, incuding Duckhorn, Niner, Opolo, and Rodney Strong.  Local wineries to know include South Coast, Callawy, and Falkner.  Pans will be flying in this event as the “Chef of the Fest,” a culinary showdown, will feature San Diego’s top culinary talent testing their skills.  One chef will be awarded top honors with $50,000. in cash and prizes. Look for the action in the Creekstone Farms Pavilion.
Equally in demand is The Vault, a Reserve Wine Tasting Experience & Silent Auction, Friday November 16 from 5pm to 8:30pm at the Marriott Marquis & Marina Hotel, next to the Convention Center.  Selections from 160 acclaimed wineries are lined up for this event.
This year, the after-dark events have been ramped up at the hottest spots in town, Wednesday night through Saturday night, and day time seminars are boosted, on Thursday and Friday.
 We could go on and on about the cooking classes, winemaker dinners and Celebrity Chef’s luncheons, but it’s time for you to pick your best  memorable events and go for it!  The master web site is for everything you need to know about the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.
Meritage a Showcase for Fine Wines
With the press of more wine territory for me to cover and report on, and more publications and web sites looking for  wine and food news, I don’t get around to neighborhood wine shops as much as I would like.
But I know that’s where the customer action is and Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas does it as well as any.

Dustin Cano is the new wine buyer  and helps Whitney Woodall operate Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas 

2012 has certainly been a transition year for this powerhouse wine shop.  Former GM Mark has gone up to Napa Valley to make wine with his new Hiatus label. Whitney Woodall has orchestrated the changes and has brought in former hotel man Dustin Cano as wine buyer.
This operation has been named “Best Wine Shop in San Diego” 4 times in a row so it’s hard to improve on that accolade.  But so far this year, Meritage has brought in wine pouring Enomatic Machines to allow customers to experience top quality wines day and day out; added a chef to increase wine dinners like “grillin and chillin” on site; and introduced seminars and basic wine education.  
New store hours are:  Tuesday thru Thursday 10 to 6:30pm, Friday 10 to 8pm and Saturday 10 to 6:30pm. Sunday and Monday Meritage is closed.  The team continues to find lesser known, high quality wines like a recent Cabernet from Chile, the Cousino Macul, for just $10.  See more
Meritage a Showcase for Fine Wines
•The 3rd Annual OktoberWest in Carlsbad is at Bistro West, Sat. Oct. 13 from Noon to 3pm.  Six authentic gourmet foods, beer & wine and music will liven up your weekend.  Must be 21+ to attend.  $35. PP.  Tickets are at Bistro West. Call 760-930-8008 for details.
•Sips for Shelter Unlimited Wine Tasting benefit is Sat. Oct. 13 from 7 to 10pm at the Marriott Del Mar on El Camino Real.  50 vintners from around the world will gather with no limit on wine tasting.  $45. tickets.  RSVP at 619-702-5399.
•The two day La Jolla Street Art and Wine Festival is Sat. Oct. 13 and Sun. Oct. 14 from 10 to 6pm.  Location is Girard between Prospect and Kline streets.  This event is FREE (suggested cash donation of $5).  150 artists with a wine and beer garden. Website is
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at  Reach him at

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