Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival Dazzles with Wineries, Chefs and Sunshine

Wine

Sunshine and fine wine were on the menu as top names from the world of food and wine gathered for the 16th annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival (PBFWF). Founded in 2007 by David Sabin and Lindsay Autry, the Festival has grown steadily and marks another big leap forward with its first year in partnership with Wine Spectator. This year’s festival took place Dec. 7 to 10 and attracted more than 5,000 attendees across 26 world-class events at prestigious venues, including the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, The Breakers, Marcello’s La Sirena, Café Boulud, Buccan and more.

An annual highlight, the Grand Tasting presented by The Palm Beaches, attracted more than 2,000 revelers to the Palm Beach County Convention Center, where they were greeted by delicious bites and sumptuous sips from more than 50 restaurants and 64 wineries, each pouring a wine rated 90 points or higher in Wine Spectator blind tastings.

The showcased wines spanned 10 countries. Among the many gems were Bodega Numanthia Toro Termanthia 2015 (94 points, $250), Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Special Selection 2013 (94 points, $160), Château Pichon Baron Pauillac 2018 (97 points, $176), Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Volcanic Hill 2019 (95 points, $300), Kistler Chardonnay Sonoma Mountain McCrea Vineyard Athearn Estate 2020 (94 points, $95) and Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2018 (97 points, $100).

Among the many winemakers in attendance was Gianlorenzo Neri from Casanova di Neri, pouring his Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2018 (93 points). “I think it is a very nice and entertaining format,” he said as music pulsed in the background. “It’s not just a tasting but an experience.”

Festival co-founder David Sabin, left, joined Hazel Shanken and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken at the Grand Tasting. (Michael Pisarri)

Wine Spectator subscribers Bob and Kathy Schlesinger traveled from Philadelphia to attend the festival, including the Grand Tasting. “It’s been a surprise for me to see how upscale the wineries are here. Most of the time you just don’t see that at this type of event,” said Kathy, while sampling Pinot Noirs from Bouchaine Vineyards and Merry Edwards Winery.

Bill Terlato, CEO of Terlato Wine Group and Terlato Wines, divided his time at the tasting between several wineries from his portfolio, including Sanford, Chimney Rock and Lanson Champagne, which poured its 2012 Vintage (92 points). “I didn’t know what to expect, but there are a lot of very knowledgeable people here,” he said. “And the food is really exceptional. You can tell the chefs are very excited to show their expertise.” Delectable bites included something for all tastes, from sushi to truffled grilled cheese, and Korean spare ribs to beet tartare.

“We have decades of experience in building signature wine events such as the New York Wine Experience,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, as he attended the event. “I see here great potential to bring a new group of consumers to fine wine in a way that is fresh and fun for everyone.”

 Winery representative pours for a guest.

Guests could sample some of the world’s best wines from more than 60 wineries from ten countries. (Michael Pisarri)

Bringing live entertainment to the stage were two competitions—a Mixology Contest and the Grand Chef Throwdown presented by Creekstone Farms. Jenna Crum, a mixologist at Florie’s at the Four Seasons, won the cocktail battle. And Chef Diego Suero of Honeybelle, a restaurant at PGA National Resort Palm Beach Gardens, took home the Throwdown prize.

A portion of ticket sales went to the designated charity for the event—Els for Autism Foundation. Co-founded by Shanken, Ernie Els and Liezl Els in 2009, the foundation operates The Els Center of Excellence, a world-class, 26-acre campus and learning center in Jupiter, Fla., for individuals with autism. The festival also raised $25,000 for the Robert Irvine Foundation, which benefits military families and first responders, and $10,000 for Season to Share, a community program that helps families in need.

The Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival will return Dec. 12-15, 2024.

 Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival attendees explore the many food and wine offerings.

Guests could sample wines at tables from top vintners like Heitz and Caymus and then try food from top local restaurants. (Michael Pisarri)

 Gianlorenzo Neri of Montalcino raises a glass of Brunello with a guest at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Gianlorenzo Neri from Montalcino’s Casanova di Neri raised a glass of his Brunello with a fellow attendee. (Michael Pisarri)

 Four Festival guests at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

The evening was a chance for old friends to try new tastes. (Michael Pisarri)

 A representative from Klein Costantia at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

A representative from South Africa’s Klein Costantia discusses the wine. (Michael Pisarri)

 Woman pouring Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc at Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Pouring a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Kim and Erica Crawford’s Loveblock winery. (Michael Pisarri)

 Guests at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Festival-goers meet up and share notes. There was plenty of variety, from Napa Cabernet to Bordeaux to rosé to sparkling. (Michael Pisarri)

 Pouring Sassicaia at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

One of the classic wines on hand was the Super Tuscan Sassicaia, poured by Tenuta San Guido. (Michael Pisarri)

 Restaurant tables at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Chefs from 50 top restaurants were preparing small plates. A favorite was the truffle grilled cheese by Aioli. (Michael Pisarri)

 Representative pours Far Niente Napa Cabernet at Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Far Niente was one of several outstanding Napa Cabernets on hand. (Michael Pisarri)

 Ryan and Kaitlyn Meyer of Creekstone Farms.

Creekstone Farms senior vice president Ryan Meyer and his wife Kaitlyn represented one of the event’s sponsors and explored the wines. (Michael Pisarri)

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