Now in its sophomore year, Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is soon to be a desert classic.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY RANCHO MIRAGE WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL
Rombauer Vineyards has teamed up with Roy’s Restaurant for a five-course dinner and wine pairing Jan. 30 to help kick off the Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival.
“We do an extraordinary amount of business in Palm Springs,” says Alison Sturgeon, national sales manager at Rombauer Vineyards. “It’s a very wine loving territory, so we try to do a lot of events and participation. Chef Joey Domingo [of Roy’s Restaurant] tasted through the entire portfolio of wine styles and made notes back in October and is planning his menu around his choices.”
Rombauer will bring in Alan Cannon, a certified wine educator, who has been with the vintner for 20 years — the last five as director of distributor relations and education, traveling the United States and telling the Rombauer story.
“Sometimes festivals aren’t just about the wine, they’re more about the food or food with a little bit of wine or they’re so expensive or there are so many brands, you can get lost,” Sturgeon says. “The boutique nature of Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival was quite captivating to us. And that’s why we’re coming to participate.”
That is exactly what David Fraschetti, the founder of the Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival, had in mind when he created the event. “We attended 18 different winery festivals over a two-and-a-half-year period doing market research,” he shares. “We always asked the wineries the same questions: What did you like about particular festivals, and what would you change? We took notes. The overwhelming response was get rid of the beer, get rid of the spirits, and make it about the wine again. If you’re at a wine-tasting event, you need to have a fresh palate.”
Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is not Fraschetti’s first go at a wine festival. He also founded VinDiego Wine and Food Festival, which has been pulling in crowds of oenophiles since 2011. Besides the Rombauer/Roy’s mashup, there is the Riboli Family Winery Five-Course Dinner at Pinzimini, a restaurant in Rancho Mirage, with a menu by James Beard Award–winning executive chef Joel Delmond. Also, there will be three wine seminars — one with Rombauer, another being a blind test with Sonoma wines , and a third with co-owner of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Cynthia Lohr, the daughter of legendary winemaker Jerry Lohr.
The big events are Feb. 1–2, beginning with the Special Sunset Rare and Reserve Tasting (Feb. 1). Limited to 300 seats, the event provides attendees an opportunity to try rare and reserve bottles, some that are impossible to buy and are no longer in distribution.
At press time, the Grand Tasting (Feb. 2 from 2 to 5 p.m.) lineup features 47 participating wineries and 18 local eateries. If you want to be one of the first to swirl, sip, and taste, opt for the Grand Tasting Early Entry package; it will get you in the door one hour earlier than regular ticketholders.
Sample of variety of food choices from Greater Palm Springs restaurants.
Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival, Jan. 30–Feb. 2, Rancho Mirage Community Park, 71560 San Jacinto Drive, Rancho Mirage; ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.com.