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The greenest festival 

Enjoy a celebration honoring Central Coast farmers

At the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival, you can join hippies wearing flowers in their long hair and tie-dye attire, don a pair OshKoshB’gosh overalls, or simply come as yourself for the impressive annual food and wine festival where they promise “absolutely no dress code.” Black tie, no—but you will have to wear something, and you might want to consider a hat and some cheap sunglasses while you’re out on the farm. They also have live music and dancing, a great way to work off the mass quantities you can’t help but consume at this great party.

click to enlarge THE CHOICEST OYSTERS :  The Morro Bay Oyster Company will be shucking oysters at the aphrodisiac lounge. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • THE CHOICEST OYSTERS : The Morro Bay Oyster Company will be shucking oysters at the aphrodisiac lounge.

Now in its seventh year, this popular green festival could sell out early, so it’s best to buy tickets ahead. There are only a handful of tickets available at the gate; it’s limited to 250 guests. And it’s worth every cent of the $75 general admission ticket price for the array of excellent treats served at the main event on Saturday, April 20, at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles.

During this year’s grand tasting, more than 200 winemakers, chefs, and farmers will band together to provide fantastic food and wine pairings. I’d be willing to bet you’ll want to taste everything there, but it’s doubtful you can do so. Nor should you drink every wine. But like me, you’ll have a blast discovering great new wines and gourmet delicacies. Nothing like most Central Coast wine fests, this event has a ratio of nearly one restaurant to every winery offering delicious tastes. Not only that, the farmer who lovingly grew those outstanding fruits and veggies will be there so you can get tips on growing them yourself or (more realistically) finding out which farmers market they frequent. I can’t list every name here, but your mouth will start watering just reading through the who’s who of restaurants, caterers, farms, and wineries.

“The Earth Day Food and Wine Festival is really about celebrating the farmers; we love pairing the farmers up with the chefs,” explained Kris Beal, executive director of the Central Coast Vineyard Team (CCVT). “We’ll have educational exhibits, but it’s not preachy. We make it a celebration of farmers with really good food and wine.”

According to her sister, Kyle Beal Wommack (from the Central Coast Oyster Festival), “We’ll have a mini version of last year’s oyster festival with Neal Maloney of Morro Bay Oyster Company shucking oysters in the aphrodisiac lounge, served with bubblies, cheese, and chocolates.” That will be interesting!

Can’t make the festival Saturday? No problem. The events this year are happening Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21.

“During the weekend we have some events that don’t require a fee; you can just show up,” Beal noted.

click to enlarge RIP:  Dr. Keith Patterson
  • RIP: Dr. Keith Patterson

Those events include the Templeton Farmers Market and Windrose Farm Earth Day plant sale and open house on Saturday. One of the new events (ticket required) is the Sip ’n’ Slider progressive brunch on Sunday morning in Edna Valley with four wineries, four caterers, and shuttle service (the latter can be skipped if your limo driver happens to be available) and each winery serving up delicious pairings of their signature wines with sliders.

To get details about the participants at the main festival, an events schedule, shuttle services, and/or buy tickets in advance, go to, or call 466-2288. Sign up for sponsor CCVT newsletters to receive advance notice about upcoming events and learn more about the serious side of what they do. The CCVT, a nonprofit, is a collaboration of growers, wineries, consultants, researchers, and natural resource professionals dedicated to promoting sustainable winegrowing on California’s Central Coast. Typically dedicated to research, education, and farmer outreach throughout the year, the CCVT does a fantastic job creating this very special, fun festival that kicks off the spring festival season on the Central Coast.


Memorial: Dr. Keith Patterson

The Central Coast wine industry lost one of its most ardent advocates with the passing of Cal Poly Professor Keith Patterson. After a year-long battle with cancer, Patterson, 66, died on March 21 at his Santa Margarita home. A Cal Poly professor for 16 years, he was respected for his passion for teaching and for the wine industry by his students and his peers. Every Cal Poly student who entered the wine and viticulture program started with Patterson’s introduction to viticulture. He was revered, respected, and admired, the ultimate compliment for any educator, explained Michael Walsh, a lecturer and vineyard manager in Cal Poly’s wine and viticulture program.

“My students shared with me that Keith was the best professor they had at Cal Poly—that includes general education classes,” Walsh remembered of the professor, who’s credited as the catalyst behind the wine and viticulture minor and major program at Cal Poly. “Keith was the viticulture component of the wine and viticulture program for his unpretentious manner, thorough knowledge of the subject, and an extraordinary way of integrating complex scientific studies with practical implementation in the real world.”

Walsh noted that he has 40 years’ experience in the industry, yet he sat in on Patterson’s classes to learn more about his craft.

“Keith was a mentor, educator, role model, giving and loyal friend who will be missed for generations to come,” he said.

Red Zeppelin winemaker Stillman Brown said of Patterson at “He was a friend, an adviser, a man always ready to set foot in a remote vineyard site, or dirt-bag party venue.”

Brown added that critics and winemakers get more than their fair share of attention in the wine world, but he credited academics for most of the innovation in viticulture and enology over the last few decades: “Keith answered my text messages about clones, pests, impromptu concerts, and, sadly, his health just a few weeks ago.”

The professor will live on in the heart of every person whose life he touched. Patterson left an indelible mark on the Central Coast wine industry.

Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at [email protected].


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