The Days of Wine & Chile

Cheers to Santa Fe Wine & Chile's 25th Birthday!

For a quarter of a century now, chefs, winemakers and other foodies have trekked to Santa Fe from around the globe to celebrate the noble grape and the fine foods that have put our city firmly on the world's culinary map. This is a landmark year for the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, which celebrates its 25th birthday September 23 through 27 with wine dinners, cooking demos, wine seminars, guest chef luncheons and much more! 

When the Fiesta was first held in 1991, it was a one-day event in the Sanbusco Market Center parking lot. Longtime festival director Greg O'Byrne has a great article in the current issue of Local Flavor describing that first day, attended by one of Santa Fe's first celebrity chefs, Mark Miller of the Coyote Cafe, as well as famed chefs Rick Bayless and Stephen Pyles. “I had no way of knowing that I was witnessing the birth of the inaugural Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, now going stronger than ever at age 25,” O'Byrne writes.

Indeed. Today, it's hard to get a reservation at many hotels and restaurants during Wine & Chile, and the longer you wait, the harder it gets to buy ttickets to The Grand Event, the big tasting frenzy held on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera, where 80 restaurants serve samples of their acclaimed food and 100 wineries pour sips for some 3,500 hungry guests.

Some of the fiesta highlights this anniversay year include a VIP tour, tasting and luncheon at Vivac Winery along the Rio Grande between Santa Fe and Taos. Osteria d'Assisi's executive Cristian Pontiggia will prepare a four-course Italian al fresco meal paired with Vivac wines, of course.

James Beard award-nominated chef James Campbell Caruso of La Boca and Taberna, demos techniques and recipes from his cookbook, “Espana, Exploring the Flavors of Spain." He'll also explore the artistry of pairing tapas with sherry.

Photo of Chef Caruso courtesy

Stephen Pyles, who was a guest chef during the first ever Wine & Chile, returns to present a guest chef luncheon at The Compound. A founding father of Southwestern Cuisine, he will collaborate with The Compound's chef/owner, James Beard award-winning Mark Kiffin, to create a four-course luncheon paired with Lico Wines from Sonoma and Ehlers Estate of Napa.

Photo of Chef Stephen Pyles courtesy

Photo of Chef Mark Kiffin of The Compound courtesy of

At the Coyote Cafe, lucky diners will enjoy a guest chef-luncheon prepared by Matthew Accarrino, executive chef at SPQR, a San Francisco Michelin-starred restaurant. He's also a James Beard Best Chef of the West 2015 finalist and Winner of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chef, 2014. He'll join with Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe in St. Louis to create a four-course meal paired with wines from central Italy's Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche region.

Photo of Chef Amtthew Accarrino courtesy

Don't forget the world-class wine dinners held all around town. Bouche holds two wine dinner, one with the wines of Wilson Daniels paired with a menu that includes Grilled Gruyere and Truffle Sandwiches; Seared Maine Sea Scallop with Toasted Hazelnuts, Spaghetti Sauce and Beurre Noisette and Goat Milk Panna Cotta with Pink Grapefruit and Basil Syrup and the other featuring Spottswoode and Ramey Wineries varietals and dishes including Lobster Profiterole and Grilled Texas Red Deer.

Photo of Chef Charles Dale courtesy

315 Restaurant and Wine Bar also hosts two fiesta wine dinnerrs, the first featuring Brunello di Montalcino wines served with Risotto al Telefono with Rabbit Bolognese and Fontina Cheese; and the second starring Schug Wines and guest Axel Schug, with a menu that includes Crispy Duck Confit and Black Pepper-Crusted Saddle of Beef.

Photo of Chef Louis Moskow courtesy Laura Shields and

Galisteo Bistro offers three wine dinners, all prix fixe. The first pairs Jackson Vineyards wine with a New American four-course menu of seafood and steak and the second, is a 2015 Craft & Estate Dinner, A Taste of Europe, with five courses of foods from Italy, Germany, France and Spain. The 2015 Cline Vineyards Dinner (how I wish I were related...) offers a four-course menu with a sampling of the celebrated cuisines of California and Oregon.

You'll find dozens of more wine dinners listed on the Wine & Chile website, but be sure to make your reservations now, as these fill up, and some already have!

In years past, the fiesta ended with a Gruet golf tournament, but this year, it closes with the 2nd Annual Gran Fondo, a sign of changing times and perhaps the interests of the guests. This 45-mile ride (or 70-mile loop) winds through the historic New Mexico villages of Nambe, Cundiyo, Trucho and Chimayo with food stops manned by chefs Matthew Accarrino Kevin Nashan, Mark Kiffin, Terra's Andrew Cooper and Master Sommelier Melissa Monosoff. At the finish line, riders will undoubtedly enjoy tacos from Kiffin's Albuquerque eatery Zacatecas and Champagne Ruinar, which has been producing champagne since 1729.

Not a bad way to celebrate your 25th birthday! Cheers to Wine & Chile and Gourmet Girl will see you there!

Photo courtesy of

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