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A Sparkling Safari

Posted November 3, 2014

Overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean, as the water glistened upon the incoming waves mirroring the sparkling bubbles in my glass, we attended the 1st Annual BubblyFest by the Sea.  This is the only Sparkling Wine and Champagne festival of its kind in the nation.  Being that October is probably one of the most temperate times of year here on the Central Coast, this month is ideal for having a festival like this.  The outdoor, weekend-long event opened with a Great Gatsby themed cocktail party and closing brunch (we were unable to attend) taking place at Dolphin Bay Resort, and the Grand Tasting along with a Press Preview held at the SeaCrest Resort.

I LOVE bubbly, and attending #BubblyFest was an opportunity to try nearly 40 different Sparkling Wines and Champagne Producers, locally and from all over California in one place. The Press preview went straight into the opening cocktail mixer with enough time to get from one resort to the next, so we got dressed up before we left home.  At the preview there were about 15 producers set up and we were each given a “BubblyFest” etched champagne flute for tasting.  Since we knew we were going to the cocktail event after, we walked around and decided to focus our tastings on producers we weren’t familiar with (we did that at the Grand Tasting a well).  One of the more interesting aspects is what varietals of bubbly are being produced.  There were the typical offerings; but also some very unique grape varietals, some of which I hadn’t heard of at all, and some of which I had but was only familiar with as still wines.

The Press event lasted about 2 hours and then it was off to Dolphin Bay for the Gatsby themed cocktail mixer by the pool.  It was set up beautifully; we collected our new glasses, this time “saucers,” and walked down the steps through a “carpet” of bubbles.  A great local band The Tipsy Gypsies were playing jazz, people were dancing, and appetizers were being passed around.  A bar was set up serving 2 specialty champagne cocktails: the French 75 gin-based with fresh lemon, simple syrup and a float of champagne, and the Bangkok & Bubbles champagne-based with Serrano pepper, basil, mint, cucumber, ginger and lime zest (my favorite!).

On Saturday we went to the SeaCrest for the Grand Tasting, and were each lucky enough to get another BubblyFest flute. The event was beautifully set up around the pool with a food table serving light appetizers provided by Field to Table toward the bottom of the lawn, 2 large tasting tents on each side of the upper lawn, with a mermaid under a canopy in the middle of the event.  Since there was only one food table, sometimes there was a long line.  To the organizers’ credit, to make the wait more pleasant they had some of the appetizers passed around to those in line and entertained everyone using the art of Sabrage to open champagne bottles, and generously poured it into waiting glasses.

We enjoyed walking around tasting all the different bubbly. The weather was perfect and the view was breathtaking. We learned how some of the producers grew and made their various offerings, did tastings and had an all-around great time. They had set up two different seminars, a Q&A with the Steve Clifton (Brewer-Clifton) and one on the history and how-to of Sabrage. A grand time was had by all and if you have an opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual BubblyFest next year, we’ll see you there!