Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta | - September 11, 2011

"If you love dining out in Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Fiesta is the event you've been waiting to attend"

If you love dining out in Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta is the event you've been waiting to attend. Held September 21-25 and timed to coincide with the local chile harvest, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta features sumptuous food, rare and wonderful wines and an enticing array of special events. Santa Feans and visitors to the City Different  get an introduction to 75 of Santa Fe's top restaurants and chefs and 90 world class wineries.

Greg O'Byrne, executive director of the event and longtime resident and supporter of the food culture in Santa Fe, has created five days of events to tantalize the palate and educate you about the right wine to serve with whatever dish you are making.  Originally from the Napa wine country in California, Gregs's love affair with wine started with the Riesling wines he paired with Grateful Dead concerts in high school.  A frustrated IT guy, he moved to Paris to explore the world of great European wines.  When he arrived in Santa Fe as the general manager of the Coyote Cafe, he developed a passion for teaching his employees about wine.

Education is a serious part of the Wine & Chile Fiesta.  Every event is designed to teach the art of pairing wine with food.  In the words of O'Byrne, "Santa Feans want to know more." The Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta is packed with wine seminars, a court of master sommeliers, and Bravo TV Top Chef Jonathan Waxman. Waxman will be hosting an Italian-inspired luncheon at The Compound, where chef/owner Mark Kiffin will pair his meal with Piedmont Wines of northern Italy.  These wines are enjoying a "must have" status. 

Emily Wines, one of the few women master sommeliers, will conduct eight seminars on how to taste and talk like a master sommelier. New this year is a panel discussion with Deborah Flag, sake specialist.  The equivalent to a master sommelier in the world of rice wine, Deborah will conduct a sake tasting. On the panel is Ayame Fukuda of Shohko Cafe, the place to go for sushi in Santa Fe since 1976. A grape traditionally associated with Bordeaux wines now grown in Argentina, malbec produces  a rich, dark, juicy wine that is "having it's moment" featured prominently in this year's event. Malbec and sake are two esoteric additions to the program, reflecting the vision of the event's organizers and sponsors.

Friday's highlight is an auction of rare wine lots.  Last year, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta presented a check for $20,000 to Cooking With Kids, a program enabling Santa Fe schools to have a full kitchen and two semesters with one of Santa Fe's top chefs to instruct kids pre-kindergarten through 6th grade in the preparation of healthy meals. Recognized nationally, this program was invited by the White House to participate in a healthy food initiative with First Lady Michelle Obama. The auction also helps finance scholarships for  Santa Fe restaurant employees who have an interest in completing two levels of training to become master sommiliers. Employees only need to express an interest in the program to be considered.

The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta Board President Tom Kerpon, chef at the new restaurant Balconies on The Plaza, says, "...we want to keep Santa Fe on the culinary map as a world class destination for great  restaurants." 

Bring your passion for good food and great wine to the annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta. For details and ticket information, visit the official Santa Fe Wine & Chile website.

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