As the 10th annual Earth Day Food & Wine Festival ended this past weekend, a common theme comes to mind: TO GIVE THANKS. Not only do we celebrate Earth Day by giving thanks to Earth by using less, recycle more, and plant more trees which produces the Earth’s bounty in terms of sustainability; We also celebrated this day at the festival by raising funds for educational scholarships to assist children of farm workers attend college through the help of the Vineyard Team. Proceeds from the ticket sales, festival goods sales, and raffle ticket sales (Good for a year’s worth of events and an unforgettable culinary experience for you and five of your best friends) supported the college fund. This was our way as festival goers, to give thanks to the hardworking men and women and their family who harvest our food.
Held at the grounds of Castoro Cellars this year, The Earth Day Food & Wine’s main event backdrop of grape vines provided a rustic and an inviting setting of up-country living. Wine barrels were doubled as tables and table top holders. An adequate amount of seating under the shade and three giants tents held the majority of the purveyors and restaurants to showcase their bounty, as much of the Central Coast farmers were the “center of the environmental and socially conscious food culture.” Flora and Fauna, had one of our favorite offering: a Korean-Inspired Fried Bee Wench Farms Chicken with a Soy Sesame Glaze and Pickled Veggies. Bee Wench Farms belief “letting animals live a life as close to nature as possible,” and are fed only non-GMO, corn and soy free feed making them the perfect farm to table choice for any menu.
Other tasty notables included Artisan which had the longest line with their Tacos. Trumpet Vine Catering offered a Soy Glazed Pork Belly that has been sous vide and topped with pineapple macadamia nuts. For the adventurous, a Venison Carpaccio on a crustini with blackberry compote was offered at the Hurrican Kitchen. Many more delectable bites were on hand, there was no shortage of food at this festival. Every food offering was delicious, and the price of the ticket was all inclusive, including beer and wine. Terrific deal.
Negranti’s Ice Cream Truck was a hit amongst the kids that attended this festival. Their flavors included Black Coffee, Mint N Chip, Salted Brown Sugar, and a favorite: Strawberry Basil. Hula Hoops and Giant Jenga also occupied kids’ interests during their time here. Did I happen to mention kids under 10 were free with a paying adult? Another excellent reason to bring the whole family to enjoy a relaxing time here in the Central Coast.
The Beer offerings were plenty. Firestone Walker brought their Luponic Distortion, Opal, and 805. This was a treat since Luponic Distortion is a super hoppy Craft Beer that has been sold out every time at my usual liquor store. Central Coast Brewing brought four of their brews: Cevantez Black Lager, Chai Ale, Monterey Street Pale Ale, and a SLO Blong Lager. I do have to say, the popular Chai Ale was pleasantly different and a very “sessionable” beer for the perfect California weather. Dunbar Brewing brought over an Irish Stout that packed a punch! It has quite a bit of spice and aroma unlike your typical Stouts!
But by far the star of this event were the wines. There were copious amounts of wine! Every winery brought out more wines from their portfolio than we could count with our fingers. With our love for red wines, some of our personal favorite included Niner Cabernet which had notes of cherry with a nice oak finish. As we strolled around the corner, we also enjoyed Justin’s Justification with its big and bold color and taste. There were also no shortage of Pinot Noirs, reminiscent from the movie ‘Sideways’.
Throughout the festival, Sip Certified seals were prevalent throughout and showcased wine sustainability in practice. According to Sip Certified’s website: “Sip Certified growers preserves and protects the natural environment, treats their employees and community with care, and practice business with a long-term view that protects both the present and the future.” Consumers can now make more sensible choice when choosing their favorite wines and support the people behind the wines.
For example, the Niven Family Estates was one of the first Central Coast wineries to become Sip Certified in 2008. Karl Boone, the Direct to Consumer Manager stated, “We were one of the pilot vineyards project in sustainability and practice. Our vineyard helped refine those standards throughout the years. Sustainability practice in vineyards cover everything from pesticides, fertilizers, goats to control weeds, hawks and owls to control rodents.” (Note: If you did see the Owlman and Louise or the other hawks/owls you now understand why they were showcased around for this festival.)
The outcome? Niven Family wines with their 1,100 acres is the oldest “consumerly owned” family operation in the cool climate of Edna Valley. The Niven Family is able to use half of their grapes for their portfolio of wines and sell half for other winemakers who can get into wine-making without the added cost of additional labor and equipment.
Smaller Sip Certified artisan wineries included El Lugar, Baker and Brain, and J Wilkes. They were available at the Pop-Up bar during different times. A great way to get to know these boutique wines on a more intimate level.
Many more Central Coast wineries, artisans, and other libations were on hand to make for a great time in 2016. For a list, please revert back to our previous post.
Of course, this event wouldn’t be Earth friendly if it wasn’t for the aim to achieve zero waste. Recyclable and compostable plates and utensils were used and disposed of in categorized containers which were easily found throughout the festival. Self serve dispensable water served multi-purpose-for consumption, for cleaning, and to reduce the use of plastic cups. The sound stage was solar powered and as everyone was dancing to the tunes of the live band near the end of the festival, attendees were encouraged to take the luxury coach shuttle to the event and back to their designated locations to decrease traffic and carbon footprint.
Even though the celebration of Earth Day wis over, it doesn’t mean it should end by any means. By taking a presence of food sustainability and being environmentally responsible, we hope to see other food and wine events to be inspired by this movement. It would be awesome if other event planners were globally passionate and share new ideas to be socially and environmentally responsible. Earth Day is more than just a day on the calendar, it’s a way of life. Thus, we give THANKS to mother earth for allowing us to eat, drink, and be merry and we hope to see other festivals follow this concept from Earth Day Food & Wine. Until next year!
April 22, 2017 | Chamisal Vineyards (San Luis Obispo, California)
Mark your calendars!
*We would like to say thank you for Earth Day Food & Wine for having us at this wonderful event and Hampton Inn Paso Robles for comfortable accommodations and it’s centralized location to Paso Robles and the Templeton area.