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The VIP Experience at the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival

Michelin stars, absinthe tastings, Food Network star Susan Feniger, soccer phenom Alex Morgan… the lineup for the VIP tent is set
Courtesy of Brandt Beef

By SDM Staff

Brandt Beef - VIP Experience at the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival

Brandt Beef – VIP Experience at the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival

Courtesy of Brandt Beef

OK this might be something.Absinthe tastings, bluefin tuna, DJ sets, bone marrow luges, the good wine, tableside mozzarella, icons of food and drink, a famed chef and Food Network star, one of the world’s biggest soccer icons—all in a tent on a lawn. The VIP experience at the Grand Tasting (Sept. 9-10) is set.

Here’s what to expect.First, a comparison. GA tickets cost $175 per day. About the cost of a (really good) steak dinner. Whether or not that’s worth it depends on how much you value an unlimited-course feast from the best chefs in the city, plus unlimited wine and assorted creative beverages. With GA, from 1-4 p.m. you get to taste dishes from about 50 of San Diego’s best restaurants, endless sips of the best wineries from the U.S. and beyond. Plus live music on a double-decker bus, a massive putting green, various games and experiences…. a pretty epic day.

The VIP experience will run $475. For that, ticket holders get access to the festival a full 90 minutes earlier, skip the line, and head directly to the tented VIP lounge, which will serve as your oasis for the day. There, some of San Diego’s top restaurants, chefs, and brands have curated experiences for general food-person enjoyment. Such as:

Susan Feniger (Saturday)

Feniger, half of the duo behind famed L.A. restaurant Border Grill and longtime Food Network host (Too Hot Tamales), will be Saturday’s special guest in VIP. She’ll be serving a Peruvian-style ceviche. She’ll also preview snippets of Susan Feniger: Forked, a phenomenal documentary that chronicles her life in the kitchen and TV and at home, produced by her longtime partner Liz Lachman.

Alex Morgan (Sunday)

Part of what makes DMWFF unique is the inclusion of SoCal culture icons like Morgan, Drew Brees, and Rob Machado. Morgan—the international soccer phenom and now San Diego icon as the captain of San Diego Wave FC—will be the official host of Sunday’s VIP, mingling with guests throughout the day.

Bluefin Sushi on the Spot

As guests enter, Jeff Roberto of Sushi on a Roll will show them how to break down a locally caught bluefin tuna—and make sushi on the spot for their first bite of the festival.

First Glass

Rock Angel and Whispering Angel Rosé will hand out the first glass.

Steak & Caviar

Chef Aron Schwartz of Ranch 45 will serve up steak and eggs (Brandt Beef eye of rib, caviar, steak sauce, micro-arugula).

The Brandt Beef Experience

Brandt—the iconic single-source, drug-free, family owned ranch in Brawley who’s headquartered in San Diego—will offer a whole slew of experiences. From bone marrow luges with Dos Hombres Mezcal to various bites (bone marrow tostada with seabass, beef shawarma on flatbread), and a beef pairing with DAOU.

The Napa Valley Experience

Napa Valley Vintners will put on three experiences showing off the stars of the region—rosé (12 p.m. to 1 p.m.), white wines (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.), and red wines (2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.).

DJ Sets

Various DJs will spin vinyl throughout the day, including music from high-fi hospitality group Consortium Holdings and San Diego music icon Chris Cantore.

Scratch Pasta (Saturday)

Chef Cesarina Mezzoni, of San Diego’s fresh-pasta star Cesarina, will do some ancient magic with flour and dough for everyone to taste.

Tableside Mozzarella (Sunday)

Tim Kolanko, culinary director of Urban Kitchen Group, will stretch and pull fresh mozzarella for cheese lovers.

The Restaurants


Deckman’s en El Mogor, Fort Oak, Kingfisher, Marisi, The Fishery, Wormwood, Wrench & Rodent, Cesarina, Barbusa.


Azuki Sushi, Cucina Enoteca/Urban Kitchen Group, Deckman’s, Jeune et Jolie, Marisi, Market Restaurant + Bar, Matsu, Mister A’s, Nine-Ten, Valle, Wormwood.

Oh, the Wines

A mix of famed, culty, and up-and-coming wines will be inside the VIP tent to pour, including: Chateau Montelena, Caymus, Cobb, Kosata Browne, Calera, Scarpetta, Big Hammer Wines, Double Bond, Ground Wine Co., Made by Light, Vinos Finos de California/Vöcal Vineyards, Parea, Saison, Somnium, The Wonderful Project.

The Grand Tasting will be held at the Del Mar Polo Fields (at Surf Sports Park) on Sept. 9-10. Tickets at

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