Every weekend from now until Memorial Day you should be able to find some sort of foodie fest along the West Coast. But if you’re looking for the spring’s premier event for gourmet dishes and drinks, it won’t get any better than Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Just in its sixth year, the event has already mastered the art of packing a lot of eating and entertaining into a short time. With four stuffed days of culinary events, it’s nearly impossible to experience everything PBFW has to offer, but our editors carve out their tastiest schedule.
What to Know
The sixth-annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival held April 4-7 includes everything from wine tastings and dinners hosted by world-famous chefs to film screenings and even a celebrity golf tournament. While the entire culinary-centric weekend takes place at Pebble Beach Resorts, the events are scattered throughout the 5,300-acre coastal haven. Classes and cooking demos are held at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Inn at Spanish Bay, while the Lexus Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday—three hours of international wines and gourmet bites by chefs like Dean Fearing, Carla Hall and Jacques Torres—are set in a massive tent at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center.
Women don spring frocks with wedges or flats, while men usually favor Chinos and polo shirts. Of course, Pebble Beach offers some of the most scenic golf courses in the world, so pack your clubs—there’s still time to sign up for the Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Golf Tournament on April 4.
What to Do
The foodie weekend kicks off on Thursday evening (though the golf tournament tees off in the morning) with a reception at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Wander throughout the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel to sample cuisine from 23 of the weekend’s featured chefs (Daniel Boulud and Rick Tramonto) and a selection of more than 200 wines by top domestic and international producers (Robert Mondavi and Silver Oak). Keep in mind that the majority of the tickets for the opening reception are for the Weekend Package ticketholders, so individual tickets are limited. April 4; 6 to 9 p.m.; The Inn at Spanish Bay; individual tickets $250.
The Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday offer the best value in terms of opportunities to taste morsels from well-known chefs such as Angela Pinkerton of Eleven Madison Park, Ben Spungin of Marinus and Dean Fearing of his eponymous Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant Fearing’s, and to sip world-class wines from the likes of Alois Kracher, Pahlmeyer Winery, Rajat Parr’s Sandhi Wines and Barrymore (as in Drew Barrymore). The three-hour culinary indulgence also offers chances for book signings and photos opportunities with some of the festival’s top names. April 6-7; 12 to 3 p.m.; Pebble Beach Equestrian Center; individual tickets $225.
Wine seminars and cooking demonstrations also are great ways to get involved in Pebble Beach Food & Wine. If you’re looking to really drill down on a subject like the deliciousness of champagne paired with Asian cuisine or vertical tasting of Tuscany’s Tenuta dell Ornellaia, opt for a sit-down tasting class. Rub shoulders with celebrity chefs at a cooking demo with Fabio Viviani or an interactive lunch with Anne Burrell.
Don’t miss the Grand Finale dinner on Saturday night to experience exquisite cuisine from top-notch chefs Pierre Gagnaire of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Las Vegas restaurant Twist and Christopher Kostow of Four-Star The Restaurant at Meadowood. These world-famous chefs serve a divine multi-course meal at the picturesque Beach & Tennis Club. Not only will you delight your taste buds, but you’ll also please your inner oenophile with pours from vineyards such as Bouchard Père & Fils and Champagne Billecart-Salmon. April 6; 6:30 to 11 p.m.; The Beach & Tennis Club; individual tickets $1,250.
Where to Stay
You’ll find no shortage of posh hotels to unwind and sleep near Pebble Beach. While The Lodge at Pebble Beach and The Inn at Spanish Bay are both booked for the culinary weekend, there are still a few rooms available at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Casa Palmero. The 24-room boutique hotel overlooks the first and second fairways of the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links. And if you haven’t gotten your fill of wine during the day, your stay includes a complimentary evening drink in the bar.
Though you’ll have to drive to Pebble Beach, staying in nearby Carmel is a great alternative. Check in to L’Auberge Carmel for a picturesque setting just off the Pacific Ocean. The 20-room hotel is both intimate and luxurious with its European design and modern amenities. It’s a short 10-minute drive from the culinary festival.
But if you’re looking to extend the gastronomic vacation, book a room at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bernardus Lodge. The beautiful Carmel Valley resort is dotted with grapevines that produce for the Bernardus Winery, while the spa offers unique grape- and olive-based therapies. And you can continue your culinary journey at the hotel’s Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star signature restaurant, Marinus.
Photos Courtesy of Bernardus Lodge, Patrick Tregenza and Barnaby Draper Studios