Celebrating the King of Grapes- CabFest Napa Valley 2016

IMG_7506_pe_425By Annabelle Marceno Pericin
Photography by Rey Del Fierro

With over 100 local Cabs being poured at CabFest Napa Valley 2016, this three-day event (March 4 – March 6) was a celebration of Napa Valley’s reigning signature grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. The weather forecast of rain and wind for the weekend did not prevent Cabernet lovers from attending CabFest Napa Valley which took stage at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at The Lincoln Theater in Yountville, CA. On Friday, March 4, recording artist and headliner Mat Kearney kicked things off with an opening performance that set the perfect tone for the festivities to follow. The weekend’s events comprised interactive symposiums lead by Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil; Boutique Tastings from small batch Cab producers and Grand Tastings; VIP parties with food and wine pairings from the valley’s top wineries and chefs.

Making a beeline to the glass pyramid of wine glasses to start partaking in the Grand Tasting event, notables that had me calling for seconds were Antica Napa Valley, Baldacci Family Vineyards  and Ca’Momi Winery. The Genesis VIP Lounge was home base for the food and wine pairings showcasing Napa Valley’s culinary creations in partnership with Napa’s top and boutique wineries. Favorites that stuck with me were the assorted salumi by Salamist Tony Incontro at Del Dotto Vineyards, the braised wild Texas boar by Hurley’s Restaurant and the prime rib by The Q R&B. I particularly liked pairing them with the 2011 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet and Trahan’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford.


One of the two symposiums curated and hosted by Karen MacNeil, entitled “Cab on the Couch”, a lively Johnny Carson-style talk show in front of the live audience, was fun and insightful. MacNeil asked unexpected one-on-one questions of her guests which included vintners Pam Starr (Crocker & Starr) and Michael Silacci (Opus One). Later that day, MacNeil hosted, “He Said / She Said – A Wine War of the Sexes” It was a comedic game show with two teams—a women’s team and a men’s team made up of Cabernet vintners or professionals. MacNeil posed Cabernet questions, and the teams competed to see who knew the most. Each team played for a person in the audience (the women’s team played for one lucky woman and the men’s team played for one lucky man) who would win three bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The “She Said / He Said” teams included Beth Novak of Spottswoode, sommelier at Press Restaurant and author Kelli White, Kellie Duckhorn of Baldacci Vineyards, Jean-Charles Boisset of Raymond Vineyards and Boisset Estates, Tom Rinaldi of Pellet, and John Skupny of Lang & Reed. In the spirit of competition and fun, the women’s team won the Napa Valley style battle by a narrow lead.

A proud partner with CabFest Napa Valley, Roots of Peace, a non-profit dedicated to the eradication of land mines around the world, launched its PeaceBuilder Napa Chapter at the Lincoln Theater on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. Vintners Robert and Margrit Mondavi, Miljenko Grgich and Violet Grgich, the Austin Hills Family, Shirley and Paul Dean, and the late Diane Disney Miller, all supporters of Roots of Peace, were honored at a ceremony during the CabFest Napa Valley kick-off concert by Mat Kearney on Friday, March 4. The first edition of the new hardcover book, “The CabFest Cabernets,” with a foreword written by Karen MacNeil, was released at CabFest Napa Valley shining a spotlight on more than 100 of the Napa Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines. For more information on CabFest Napa Valley, visit cabfestnapavalley.com