I’ve been watching online videos by Sunset magazine that showcase SLO County’s many attractions. From the spectacular Hearst Castle estate and panoramic vistas of vineyards on rolling hills to the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, their featured views will make you wish you were dipping your toes into the sea or sipping wine among the grapevines. You’ll find their videos at savorcentralcoast.com, and I must say, after viewing them, I felt an immense amount of pride. We do, indeed, live in paradise here in SLO County.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNSET MAGAZINE
It’s no wonder that Sunset’s inaugural Savor the Central Coast event attracted 7,200 people last year. Their spotlight on the jewel of the Central Coast provided their huge number of subscribers a mighty impressive taste of our little piece of heaven on Earth. The editors at Sunset hope to attract many more visitors this year, and that’s a very good thing for the SLO County’s culinary artisans who make this culinary adventure awesome. I interviewed Sunset’s editor-in-chief, Katie Tamony, and asked what motivated the popular West Coast publication to produce this outstanding event at Santa Margarita Ranch.
“We had been covering this region in a variety of ways, particularly the new restaurants preparing locally grown foods,” Tamony explained. “The Central Coast has a great lifestyle that epitomizes the lifestyle we cover in Sunset.”
The fact that SLO County is in the perfect mid-state location between San Francisco and Los Angeles made it the ideal location for their readers who travel here to attend Savor. The editors’ first visit to Santa Margarita Ranch, which ideally brings together old and new California, proved it was the perfect venue to handle the large crowds attending the main event.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID CARLSON
“Everything really started falling into place as we talked with restaurants, wineries, and hotels that wanted to participate,” Tamony said. “This area is still a kind of under-rated paradise with so much diversity. It’s a great place for our readers to visit.”
Tamony spoke about the new additions to Savor: an adventure tour with Sunset food editor Margo True to Happy Acres Goat Farm, where you could learn to milk a goat; a cooking demo by chef Cindy Pawlcyn featuring sustainable seafood; a tasting of Washington State wines with wine editor Sara Schneider; an L.A. vs. S.F. Food Town Smackdown with two mixologists battling it out to win the champion title; or a visit to Ocean Rose Abalone Farm for a tour and lunch with Tamony.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF SUNSET MAGAZINE
“The Central Coast offers so much. You can go on an amazing wine country trip where you’re only a short drive from the Pacific Ocean,” Tamony said in praise of this region, “and then go visit artisanal farms for abalone, goats, and organic produce.”
Sunset’s editors were so pleased with the results of the first Savor the Central Coast, they were inspired to do it again only one year later. It will become an annual event if it’s as popular this year.
“We wanted to make sure we could really pull it off, and attract enough of our readers,” Tamony said. “We’re really excited about the changes we made for this year’s event.”
Friday evening, the Western Wine Awards Gala takes place under the big top on the Pismo Beach Pier, featuring 32 wines produced in the western United States. Eight of the nominees are Central Coast wineries: Clayhouse 2010 Adobe Pink, Hahn 2009 Syrah, Project Paso 2009 Grenache Blend by Don Sebastiani & Sons, Beckmen 2009 Cuvee le Bec Grenache Blend, Qupe 2009 Syrah, Tablas Creek 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, Andrew Murray 2008 Esperance Grenache Blend, and Villa Creek 2009 Willow Creek Cuvee Grenache Blend. Although Sebastiani is based in Napa and Sonoma, I included their brand because it’s dedicated to Paso Robles-grown grapes. Tickets for this event are $85 each.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNSET MAGAZINE
Sunset’s Tamony and Wine Editor Sara Schneider will lead this unforgettable evening, when you’ll have the opportunity to sip the nominated wines, meet the winemakers, and enjoy gourmet foods prepared by the finest chefs in Pismo Beach. I wouldn’t dream of missing this awards ceremony gala; it’s like attending the Emmys for the wine industry.
Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast, an incredible four-day event from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, kicks off Thursday evening with a reception at Hearst Castle. Although it sold out immediately (hardly surprising), it’s certainly not the focus of this event that showcases artisan farms, restaurants, and wineries. During the inaugural event last year, I had a blast attending the main events in the historic Santa Margarita Ranch on Saturday and Sunday. There you can graze from booth to booth filled with farm fresh fruits, artisan foods, wines, and chefs cooking up gourmet treats you’ll sample. It all provides an insider’s glimpse of the outstanding foods produced by our best restaurants and farms. Santa Barbara-based chef Cat Cora is this year’s celebrity chef for Savor. And it’s not just focused on San Luis Obispo County; you’ll find food and great wine from Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Oregon, and Washington represented at this outstanding tribute to culinary artistry. The Western Wine Awards Gala features wines from 32 outstanding West Coast wineries, eight of which are Central Coast grown. If you have questions, call 1-800-634-1414. The two-day pass is $150 per person, or you can buy a one-day pass for either Saturday or Sunday for $85 per person. Some wine tasting seminars and cooking demonstrations require additional fees besides the cost of the main event pass. For details and/or tickets to Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast, visit savorcentralcoast.com. Tickets can also be purchased at all Central Coast Farm Supply locations.
Contact New Times’ Cuisine columnist at email@example.com.