It’s Wine & Chile Time

The week-long feast of flavors returns...

Fall is in the air, along with the earthy aroma of roasting green chile—a clear indication that it's time for the annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, held September 18-25. This week-long feast of flavors features wine dinners, cooking demos, tastings, seminars, guest chef luncheons and more, all culminating in the big event—The Grand Tasting, held on the scenic grounds of the Santa Fe Opera with food from 75 of the city's finest restaurants paired with sips from 100 world-class wineries.

This year marks the 26th annual fiesta and includes a brand new event, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Film Fiesta, which kicks the week off starting Sunday, September 18. Enjoy three evenings of wine and food receptions at Violent Crown Cinema followed by screenings of films devoted to food at Violet Crown and Jean Cocteau Cinema. On the marquee are such classic films as "A Good Year," a 2006 romantic comedy about a London bond trader (Russell Crowe) who inherits his uncle's vineyard estate in Provence; "Barolo Boys," a 2014 documentary about a group of young winemakers who revolutionized the world of Barolo wine in the '80s and '90s; and "The Trip," a 2011 comedy starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as two friends on a road trip in England to review fine restaurants. Each night, different restaurants and wineries will provide fare for the reception, so check the Wine & Chile website for the full schedule.

Things heat up on Wednesday, September 21 with demos, seminars, guest chef luncheons and more. Don't miss the Eric DiStefano Guest Chef Luncheon and Master Sommelier Throwdown, held in honor of the loving memory of SantaFe's beloved chef who passed away last year. The event features a team of decorated Santa Fe chefs—including 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar's Louis Moskow, Bouche Bistro's Charles Dale and Coyote Cafe's Eduardo Rodriguez—who will match wine-and-food pairing skills with a master sommelier team. Each chef will pair a wine with their course and compete against a different wine chosen by one of the sommeliers. Guests will choose the winning best pairing. The event takes place at Coyote Cafe from 11:30 am to 2 pm.

Thursday's highlights include a Guest Chef Demo & Tasting with Peter Janiak, executive chef at Seghesio Winery in Sonoma. He will lead a master class pasta demo at the Santa Fe School Cooking from 10:30 am to noon, pairing his food with wines from Seghesio Family Vineyards, known for world-class Zinfandels. Winemaker Ted Seghesio, by the way, is Wine & Chile's Honoree of the Year. His family has been growing Zinfandel in Sonoma since 1895 and their wines have made Wine & Spectator's Top 100 List seven times. Seghesio offers wine seminars on Thursday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center throughout the day (check the schedule for times).

On Friday, savor the acclaimed cuisine of C Y Yontz, executive chef of Rio Grill in Carmel, California who you may remember from his days with Mark Miller at the Coyote Cafe. He'll present two events, starting with a four-course Guest Chef Luncheon at The Compound Restaurant from noon to 2 pm, prepared with chef Mark Kiffin and paired with wines from Roederer and Pio Cesare. Then Yontz will give a cooking demo showcasing the fiery flavors of his modern Southwestern cuisine from 3 to 4:30 pm at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

Saturday brings the Grand Tasting, where some 3,500 foodies and oenophiles spend the day sampling Santa Fe's world-famous cuisine and wines, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, enjoying live music, and glorious mountain views. You can also purchase wine glasses, t-shirts and cookbooks from authors who are on hand to personally sign them for you (full disclosure: Gourmet Girl will be there signing copies of the award-winning “The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes and Tales from New Mexico.")The event takes place from noon to 4 pm and sells out fast.

Sunday features the Gruet Golf Classic, a golf scramble that features a different sparkling wine paired with food from a restaurant on every third hole. Check-in time is 10 am and tee-time is 11 am at Towa Golf Course located at Buffalo Thunder. Also on Sunday, the Gran Fondo Bike Ride offers cyclists a choice of 100-, 75- or 45-mile loops that begin at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado in Tesuque and wind through the historic villages of Nambé, Cundiyo, Truchas and Chimayó, with food stops along the route. Upon returning to Rancho Encantado, riders are treated to Tacos by Zacatecas and Champagne Perrier Jouet. Then Wine & Chile winds up the week at Rancho Encantado with a Champagne & Dirty Boots Brunch from noon to 2 pm, featuring a farewell feast overlooking gorgeous views on the Monte Vista Terrace.

Wine & Chile has traveled eons from the very first fiesta, held in 1991 as a one-day event in the Sanbusco Market Center parking lot and attended by now uber-chefs Mark Miller, Rick Bayless and Stephen Pyles. Today, the event draws so many visitors it's hard to get reservations for hotels, let alone for restaurants.Find the full schedule for this busy week online, and be sure to make your reservations today, as many events fill up fast!

Photos courtesy of Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta

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