By Rick Riozza

For those of you vino lovers who attended last year’s inaugural Rancho Mirage Wine & Food Fest, I’ll see you again at this year’s event.  Who would want to miss this fantastic local wine & food party! 

But the word has gotten out—and just like last year, this event will sell out! That’s right: there’s a limited amount of tickets for the event—the reason why so many high-end wineries and restaurants come aboard: because this is not to be an over-crowded gathering of waiting lines of sips & dips.  Last year, everything was spacious, fun, casual—and, oh so tasty!

It’s a wine & food tasting party on the lawn at the Rancho Mirage Community Park & Amphitheater this Friday, February 1st, and Saturday, February 2nd from 2pm to 5pm.  I know it’s last minute—but hey! That’s what we do best around here: so no problem—it’s on our calendar stat!


But before we get into talking about all the wineries and restaurants on-board this time, let me get this out quick:  For you vino lovers & foodies alike, who haven’t ordered your tickets to this event, our friend, the Festival promoter Dave Freschetti, has offered you readers $10 off the ticket price when go on-line to order:  Simply use the promo code: RM2019 at

Let’s allow promoter Dave to have the first welcoming words as expressed in the festival website:

“The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is a true wine connoisseur’s delight. The Festival is about people coming together to celebrate a shared passion; a love for great wine and mouth-watering gourmet food.

“Come sip, swirl and savor a selection of handcrafted wines from top tier wineries. These passionate winemakers and winery representatives will be offering practical knowledge and sharing their delicious wine including hundreds of incredible award-winning wines from California, Oregon and Washington.

“The Festival offers a fantastic variety of delicious culinary delights from our wonderful local restaurants and the Valley’s best Chefs. To add fun and excitement to the event, a steady stream of live, upbeat musical entertainment will be provided so guests can relax or dance the afternoon away.

“Your all-inclusive General Admission and Early Entry Ticket includes an elegant crystal souvenir wine glass, limitless tastes of award-winning wines, and a dizzying variety of gourmet appetizers, prepared by Top Chefs of the Desert. Our Early Entry Ticket allows you to get in one hour earlier (1pm) than the general admission ticket.

“The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is also an event that supports our local charities. When you place your bid at our Rancho Mirage Silent Auction, 100% of proceeds will go to the Desert AIDS Project.”

I recently spoke with Dave to get any last minute details regarding his darling fest-in-the-desert.  As I mentioned last year, although Dave is known in the promoter circles as the guy with the most successful wine festival in San Diego, lovingly known as VinDiego!, he and his wife actually have a place here in Rancho Mirage.  And by living here, he and his entourage have been busy these last few months putting together the best fest possible for us local folks.

Dave explained, “We actually go out to the individual wineries and speak with the owners and winemakers.  We definitely do our due diligence.  We strive to get the best wineries we can.”

And that sentiment certainly shows in this year’s winery line-up.  Do you recognize any of these names: Van Duzer Vineyards from the Willamette Valley in Oregon; Austin Hope Winery up in Paso Robles; Alexander Valley Vineyards of course in Sonoma County; Dunham Cellars in one of our favorite regions—Walla Walla, Washington; Goldschmidt Vineyards, Napa/Sonoma/New Zealand/Argentina/Chile; Luna Vineyards in Napa Valley. World-class wineries for certain!

By the way, another new participating winery is one that may be on your radar: Rombauer Vineyards! When was the last time you heard of Rombauer pouring at a wine tasting?  You haven’t!  How Dave got this winery gem to grace our presence is definitely a coup for us Coachella wine lovers.

Last year, we met Nina Snow pouring her delicious Sardinian DOCG Wines from Italy.  What’s at the fest this year will be The Wines of Greece, where we will be introduced to Limnio, one of Greece’s oldest grape varieties.  Opa!

And last year, the day prior to the Grand Tasting Event, the Festival provided a Trade Tasting for which yours truly acted as moderator.  This time, a more consumer savvy special event will be held on Friday, February 1st, a romantic and intimate tasting at sunset.  Indeed, it’s the Festival’s “Special Sunset Rare and Reserve Tasting Event”

It’s limited to just 300 wine lovers and will be the most sought-after ticket in town. Winemakers will be dusting off their rare and reserve level bottles, some of which are impossible to buy and are no longer in distribution—all for your sipping pleasure.  It will be held at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater from 4pm to 6pm at a ticket fee of $70.  For you lucky people planning to attend—I’ll see you there!

Dave is especially proud of his twenty restaurant line-up which includes most of the heavy hitter kitchens in our Valley that served up delicious bites last year.  Newcomers to the Festival will include DRINGK Eatery & Bar, Babe’s Bar-B-Que Brewhouse, Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill, Luna Grill, and the new Innovation Kitchen, that just opened at the JW Marriot Resort & Spa Palm Desert.

What a great local event to look forward to: this weekend! Rancho Mirage Community Park & Amphitheater 71560 San Jacinto Dr. Rancho Mirage, CA 92270