Westchester Food & Wine Fest 2022

The 11th annual Westchester Magazine’s Food and Wine Festival was held on June 6-11.

It was a week of wine dinners, a Burger & Beer blast, a Party on the Pier and capping off the week on Saturday afternoon, the Grand Tasting Village which I attended.

The Grand Tasting Village was an outdoor, tented event with scores of booths with wine, spirits and food. There was an additional “VIP” tent with wine upgrades and additional food.

The tasting was held at Kensico Dam Plaza in the village of Valhalla, an upstate suburb about a forty-minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

As usual, it was a huge event with plenty of drink and food from Westchester restaurants. This year though, I was a little disappointed. Normally in the General Admission section the quality of the wines poured were high for a consumer event. It seems like this year the quality was cut back as there were more off labels being poured than in the previous events. I was particularly disappointed in the VIP tent which could be counted on to pour some nice juice. It felt like they cut back there as well.

To make up for the changes in the wines, the number of spirits available at the festival doubled in size from the previous year, which already was double in size from previous festivals. This year there were copious varieties of different spirits to sample and near the end of the event, those booths became very popular.

It was still an enjoyable event and a fun way to spend a somewhat cloudy Saturday afternoon.

What I sampled in the VIP tent:

2020 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon2017 Caymus Special Selection
2019 Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir2019 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
2016 Taub Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon2017 Talbott Estate Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir
2012 Ugolini Valle Alta Amarone2010 Bertani Amarone
2017 Allegrini Amarone2017 Banfi Sumus
2016 Banfi Poggio alle Mura2017 Banfi Excelsus
2015 Antico Borgo Taurasi Riserva2017 Pio Cesare Barolo
2016 Esprit de Pavie Bordeaux2018 Ratti Barolo
2015 Campofiorita Brunello di Montalcino2019 Domaine Ott Rose
2019 Catena Chardonnay2018 Catena Alta Malbec

Passport To Eataly

Eataly is the “world’s largest artisanal Italian food and beverage marketplace”. It’s like an Italian food theme park with Italian themed groceries, restaurants and bars.

They also host cooking classes, wine and beverage classes and about once a month they throw an in-store party.

The standard formula for these parties is to offer 40+ Italian wines with several Italian inspired appetizers, a jazz band and plenty of people having a good time. Usually there is a theme either with the wine or the time of year. On March 25th at the downtown location (101 Liberty Street) that theme was Passport to Italy.

At this “Fiesta” the wines were mainly from the South of Italy with selections from Calabria, Sicily, Basilicata, Puglia, Molise, Lazio, Campania and Abruzzo.

A couple of the standout appetizers were the Vesuvio Con Salsiccia E Cime di Rape; house made pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. Another was Spado alla Siciliano; Swordfish in a sauce of tomatoes, raisons, olives and pignoli nuts.

As usual it was filled with people enjoying the wine, food and music.

NYCWFF Grand Tasting 2021

The 14th annual Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival, “the ultimate New York City food and drink extravaganza” was held on October 14-17 after cancelling last year.

It was four days of walk-around tastings, intimate dinners, late-night parties, pier parties, master classes and a Grand Tasting.

The events were held at various venues in the city with the intention of raising money for charitable organizations such as God’s Love We Deliver and the Food Bank for NYC.

One of the events I attended was the Grand Tasting, a city block long mini village of wine. spirits and food booths. The Grand Tasting was a three day event with Saturday and Sunday afternoons open to the public and Friday afternoon as “Trade Day” which was exclusively open to members of the Hospitality Industry.

The event was held at a new venue this year at Hudson River Park Pier 76 on the Hudson River across the road from the Javits Convention Center on the West side of Manhattan,

It was an outdoor venue (it was a beautiful Autumn afternoon) that really resembled a small village with many spirit, wine and food booths scattered around the park.

One part of that village held the GEMS collection hosted by Wine Spectator magazine (the wine industry Bible) which showcased higher-end premium wines to sample.

Some of the GEM collection wines I sampled:

2015 Siduri “Rosella’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir2018 La Crema “Fog Veil” Pinot Noir
2011 Belle Glos “Taylor Lane” Pinot Noir2017 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 Charles Krug “Generations” Cabernet Sauvignon2019 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
2019 Orin Swift “The Prisoner” Cabernet Sauvignon2017 Landmark Vineyards Hop Kiln Estate Pinot Noir
2018 Justin Vineyars “Isoseles”2017 Gaya “Sito Moresco”
2013 Castello Giocondo Brunelle di Montalcino2017 Sergio Alighieri Amarone
2006 Chateau de Beaucastel ChateauNeuf du Pape2017 Ruffino “Modus”
2019 Phillipe Colin Chassagne-Montrachet2018 Mason Les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage
2012 Marquis de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva2011 Berona Rioja Gran Reserva

Westchester Wine & Food Fest 2021

Westchester Magazine’s 10th annual Wine & Food Festival was held on September 21-25. It was five days of a couple of wine dinners, a Burger & Beer Bash, Party on the Pier and lastly, their signature event, the Grand Tasting Village on Saturday, September 25th.

Last years event, which normally took place in June was, not surprisingly, cancelled so I was happy to see that they decided to bring the event back this year.

I was worried that they might have scaled back the scope of the event but when but when I arrived, I was happily surprised to see that they did not. In fact it seemed like they had double the amount of spirits represented this year than at the last event. As usual they had a roped off Connoisseurs tent that featured high end wines not available in General Admission area. I remember being disappointed in the wine selection in that Connoisseurs tent at the last event but they made up for it this year, there was some very nice juice to sample this time.

As in the past, the event was held outdoors under the tents at Kensico Damn Plaza which is a few minutes walk from the Valhalla Metro North train station. That’s a leisurely 50-60 minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal and it was a beautiful late Summer afternoon for a ride to the country.

I think that this is one of the better consumer wine events to attend. It’s at a great venue with tasty food to sample and copious international wines to drink for the General Admission ticket holders.

Wines I sampled in the Connoisseurs tent:

NV Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Champagne2017 Vincent Giradin Chassagne-Montrachet
2018 Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay2015 Robert Mondavi Reserve Fume Blanc
2017 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc2018 Penner-Ash Estate Pinot Noir
2015 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Sycamore Vineyard2016 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso Vineyard
2018 Pahlmeyer Cabernet Sauvignon “Jayson”2018 Mt. Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
2015 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir “Machado”2017 Newton Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon
2018 Lucienne Pinot Noir2018 Orin Swift Papillon Red Blend
2017 Booker Oublie Grenache Blend2018 Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif
2018 Chateau La Gaffeliere2019 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 Castello Banfi Summus Toscana2016 Castello Banfi Excelsus Toscana
2016 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino2016 Mastroberadino Taurasi Radici
2016 Castello Banfi Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino2018 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2019


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The 14th annual 2019 Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held on September 19-22 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The event was hosted by the Preservation Society of Newport county and supports historic preservation in Newport. All the proceeds from the festival go to preservation, protection and presentation of the historic homes.

It was three days of wine dinners, seminars, a Jazz brunch, an after party and a Grand Tasting. The Grand Tastings were held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I attended on Sunday afternoon. The events were held at the various historic homes in the area that included The Elms, Rosecliff, The Breakers and Marble House. The Grand Tastings were held at the Marble House.

These “summer cottages” were built for the wealthy industrialists of the Gilded Age in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and no expense was spared. It became sort of “arms race” among the wealthy tycoons to see who would build the more opulent mansion.  The Marble House where the Grand Tasting was held was built between 1888-1892 for William Vanderbilt as a gift for his wife’s 39th birthday at an estimated cost at the time of $11 million. To say no expense was spared would be an understatement.

The Grand Tastings were held in the backyard of the Marble House. Throughout the afternoon there were Chef demonstrations at the Culinary Stage, tasting stations with food from various local restaurants and tables full of wine and spirits scattered under the tents and on the cliffs overlooking Narraganset Bay. A notable feature in the backyard that was used as a seminar space this day was the Chinese Tea House which was modelled on a 12th century Song Dynasty temple.

The crew from Dole & Bailey, a purveyor of fine meat and fish, always have an impressive display of a massive grill with cooks mingling with the rising smoke to grill up various meats and fish for us to sample.

There were sprits from Tito’s vodka, Mount Gay rum, Brockman’s gin, Knob Creek whiskey, Don Julio tequila, hard cider from Angry Orchard and over 100 international wines. This is one of the better consumer festivals, held at a beautiful venue with some nice nibbles and lots of good wine and spirits to wash them down with. I did attend one seminar.


Seminar: Elegance and Balance; the style of Palmer & Co. Champagne

NV Brut: Steel aged, medium gold, yeasty, green apple nose, crisp and tart with a lemony finish.

NV Blanc de Blanc: Medium gold, subdued nose of brioche, more pronounced yeast and green apple notes than the Brut with  a stone, minerally finish.

NV Rosé: Medium copper, light strawberry on the nose, medium body with mushroom notes on the finish.


Some of what I sampled:

2018 Whispering Angle Rosé

2018 Cuvaison Sauvignon Blanc

2017 Chapellet Chardonnay Calesa Vineyard

2017 Cuvaison Chardonnay Napa Valley

2017 Scarpetta Friulano

2014 Seghesio Vineyards Sangiovese

2015 Seghesio Vineyards Zinfandel Home Ranch

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Pinot Noir Gaps Crown

2016 Landmark Overlook Pinot Noir

2015 Smoking Gun Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2017 Olivier Leflaive Pugliny Montrachet

2016 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2015 Ferraro-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2015 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

2011 La Macioche Brunello de Montalcino

2011 Chateau Musar Red Blend