First Look CabFestNV: Napa holds first ever celebration of the king of grapes

Jeff Bridges and his country-rock band, The Abiders, headlines the opening night concert.

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible keybotes CabFestNV
“The Wine Bible” author Karen MacNeil will present keynotes and celebrity vintner panels at the first CabFestNV set for February 28, march 1 & 2, 2014 at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln

There’s no shortage of wine events in and around Northern California. The invitations, the temptations we get via the Stark Insider inbox are never ending. No complaints here. Much appreciation. If I had my way, I’d drop everything I was doing and become a full-time reveler, attending film/theater, food, and wine events Monday through Friday, 52 times a year. Wait a sec… this sounds vaguely familiar. Haven’t we already been doing just that, here on these pages for some 8 years now? Blasphemy. So many years, so many vineyards.

But, that little known grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, often gets short shrift when it comes to big events.

That’s a bit of an oddity considering the grape is widely considered the king of Napa Valley wine varietals. Yet there’s plenty of Zinfandel tastings, same for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and, even, the little grape that could, Petite Sirah (aka Insta-Zombie).

According to wine PR maven and friend of SI, Lisa Adams Walter, that will all change later this month.

CapaFestNV is its name. And Cabernet is its game. Lots and lots of it. Plus, as Lisa tells me, plenty of all the other good stuff that goes along with enjoying wine: food, music, seminars.

Mark your calendars. CabaFestNV runs three days, starting February 28th. I particularly like that opening night takes place at the gorgeous Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater (Yountville). Safe to say, let the good times roll.

After much hard work and planning it looks like the logistics and schedules have been mostly firmed up. Jeff Bridges and his country-rock band, The Abiders, headlines the opening night concert. Karen MacNeil (“The Wine Bible”) keynotes. Food and wine notables include: Chef Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards, Cindy’s Back Kitchen), Bob Bath (MS at the CIA – not that one, this one), Marc Mondavi (auctioneer), Fritz Hatton (pioneer grape grower), Andy Beckstoffer (the man), among many others (more than 100 are scheduled to attend).

ALSO SEE: State of the Wine Industry in 60 Seconds

It should be interesting to see how the event goes. There’s usually a few minor hiccups with these first-time events; that, in my eyes at least, is part of the energy and the unexpected that comes with an inaugural festival with lofty aspirations.

As we like to say, Team Stark hopes to see you there. It’s hard to resist a three-day mash-up of wine, food and entertainment. The only question now: Will this be a Canon EOS shoot, or a Blackmagic Cinema shoot? To be continued…

Napa and Sonoma news, videos and photosCabFestNV

Friday, February 28, Festival Begins:

Jeff Bridges and The Abiders

  • 11:00-4:00pm CabFestNV Kickoff Winery Tasting Circuit
  • 7:00pm Concert: Jeff Bridges and The Abiders at the Lincoln Theatre with show opener Jessie Bridges

Saturday, March 1, Grand Tasting (11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.):

  • All-day. “How Music Affects the Taste of Wine” a musical exploration of “tasting notes” by Symphony Napa Valley’s Orchestra Institute Fellows and guest artists;
  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. “Napa Valley Rocks” film, presented by the Napa Valley Vintners;
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  Keynote Presentation by Karen MacNeil: “What Makes Great Cabernet Sauvignon Great” – Interactive keynote address, with a fun blind-tasting mission. (Wine tasting limited, first-come basis)
  • 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Take the “Last One Standing Challenge” presented by The Culinary Institute of America: A blind-tasting and knowledge challenge that will put everyone in the starting lineup as CIA Wine Instructor, Robert Bath, MS asks a series of progressively probing questions about Napa Valley Cabs. Someone will be the “Last One Standing.” Prizes and bragging rights will be rewarded!
  • 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. VIP All-Access Pass holders only – Panel tasting and demonstration by the Napa Valley Vintners: “Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” The Paris Tasting of 1976 launched Napa Valley into the international spotlight, and Cabernet hasn’t been the same since. Includes a panel discussion and wine tasting with some of Napa Valley’s most renowned and iconic Cabernet Sauvignon producers.
  • 5:30 p.m. Saturday night comes alive at the Lincoln Theater with Wine Industry Insiders “Meet-Up & Concert” starringThe Silverado Pickups, a local band whose members are esteemed winemakers by day, and distinctive wine country rockabilly musicians by night. Truly a “Party for the Valley” and open to the public, tickets are priced for everyone at just $10 per person and doors open at 5:30 p.m.
  • 7:00 p.m. Cab is King Cult Wine Dinner – off-site event at the CIA Greystone in St. Helena – For those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime gourmet/wine-pairing experience The Culinary Institute of America has raided its world-renowned cellar and called upon celebrity Chef Larry Forgione (known as the “Godfather of American Cuisine”) to create the “Cab is King Dinner,” an extraordinary five-course “fundraising” dinner at its Conservatory Restaurant at the CIA Greystone. Wines include: Groth Vineyards Reserve 1994, Dalla Valle Maya 1996, Dominus Estate 1997, Bryant Family Vineyards 1999, Corison Winery, Kronos Vineyard, Premier Napa Valley Lot 2002, and Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004 ($500 per person, of which $300 is tax deductable. Very limited. To reserve seats call Michelle Sanchez at 707-967-2568).

Sunday, March 2, Grand Tasting (11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

  • All-day. “How Music Affects the Taste of Wine” a musical exploration of “tasting notes” by The Symphony Napa Valley Orchestra Institute Fellows and guest artists
  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. “Napa Valley Rocks” film, presented by the Napa Valley Vintners
  • 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Keynote Presentation by Karen MacNeil: “Cab on the Couch,” a spontaneous conversation and uncensored observations featuring such well-known vintners as Charles Krug’s Marc Mondavi (aka the Water Witch); Food & Wine Magazine’s “Winemaker of the Year” Aaron Pott; wine auctioneer, musician and vintner Fritz Hatton; pioneering Napa Valley grape grower Andy Beckstoffer; Blake Gilbert, director of ultra-premium winery Bond, and other surprise stars.
  • 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Take the “Last One Standing Challenge” presented by The Culinary Institute of America: A blind-tasting and knowledge challenge that will put everyone in the starting lineup as CIA Wine Instructor, Robert Bath, MSasks a series of progressively probing questions about Napa Valley Cabs. Someone will be the “Last One Standing.” Prizes and bragging rights will be rewarded!
  • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. VIP All-Access Pass holders Only: “To Blend or Not to Blend” featuring a star-studded lineup of Napa Valley winemakers moderated by Paula Kornell and including Heidi Peterson Barrett, Celia Welch, Martha McClellan,Amy Aiken, Sara Fowler and Dawnine Dyer. A panel discussion and tasting exploring the blending of Cabernet Sauvignon with master winemakers noted for their high-end Napa Valley wines.
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