Downtown Tehachapi will be filled with music and activity on Saturday, Aug. 4, for the 6th Annual Tehachapi Food & Wine Festival.
The regional event features eateries and wine and beer from Tehachapi, Kern County and surrounding areas.
“Yes, we will have a couple of microbreweries this year,” organizer David Brust said.
Last year's festival helped generate income for local businesses which included selling out 600 hotel rooms and bringing more than $100,000 dollars into town during the weekend, Brust said.
“This year we are expecting to exceed those totals,” he added.
For the first time this year the event will be fenced with entry at Green Street and Tehachapi Boulevard. The festival runs from 6 to 10 p.m. and is open only to those 21 and older. Another new feature this year — discounted tickets for “designated drivers” — who will be able to enjoy the food, music and atmosphere without the wine and beer tastings.
Festival founder Anthony McDemas said he is thrilled by the growth of the festival that started as a one-day event drawing around 250 people in 2007. It now serves as the centerpiece of a “Discover Tehachapi” weekend with many visitors staying for several days.
"We're growing it steadily. We want to make it a better quality experience each year," McDemas said of the event, expected to draw 10 times the original attendance figure this year.
An addition to the weekend this year is an “after-party” at Pacino's Spaghetti Factory, 1100 W. Tehachapi Blvd. The event, which will feature live music with a $5 cover, will run from when the festival ends (10 p.m.) until 2 a.m.
Don't make it too late a night if you have one of the coveted tickets to an ostrich egg brunch at The Wine & Cheese Cellar, 695 Tucker Rd., on Sunday, Aug. 5. Eggs from Tehachapi's Indian Point Ostrich Ranch will be scrambled and served with rosemary potatoes, bacon, fruit salad, crepe-wrapped asparagus and more. Seating is capped at 50, so act quickly if you want to add that to the itinerary. The cost is $24.95 per person; call 374-0395 or purchase tickets online at tehachapifoodandwine.com.
This year's event will have more than 20 wineries from Tehachapi, the Central Coast and the Antelope Valley as well as more than 20 restaurants providing food prepared by professionals representing Tehachapi, Bakersfield and the Antelope Valley.
“It is a truly regional event,” Brust said.
Tehachapi’s two wineries — Souza Family Vineyard and Triassic Legacy Vineyard — will pour, as will two local restaurants, Don Juan’s and The Wine & Cheese Cellar.
Out of town establishments providing wines include Antelope Valley Winery, Christian Lazo Wines, Croad Vineyards, Derby Wine Estates, Drunken Goat Winery, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Imbibe Wine, Las Flores Winery, Opolo Vineyards, Pianetta Winery, Pour d' Vino, Pour d'Vino Wine Lounge And Bistro, Rancho Ventavo Cellars, Reyes Winery, Roxo Port Cellars, San Antonio Winery, Stacked Stone Cellars, Vines on the Marycrest and Vista Del Ray Vineyards.
New to the ever-expanding event are the two microbreweries: Kinetic Brewing Company from the Antelope Valley and El Segundo Brewery. There will be nine different beers to taste with Advanced Beverage giving away special chalices (while they last).
“For the ticket price our attendees will receive a gift bag with a wine glass and other goodies in it as well as tickets for 8 wine or beer tastings and 8 food tastings,” Brust said.
Along with beverage tastings, a selection of food will be available including the following:
Pacino's Spaghetti Factory: bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms and mini cannoli.
The Apple Shed: pulled pork and a surprise dessert.
Kelcy's Cafe: apple, cherry, lemon and coconut tarts with coffee.
Ben & Jerry's: Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz and strawberry cheesecake ice creams.
The Garden Spot: baby-blue salad and red walnut muffins.
Mike's Farmhouse Cafe: cucumber slices with chive cream cheese, topped with shredded carrots; and mini fruit-filled puff pastries.
Sandrini's Basque & Italian Restaurant: Italian sausage bread and several types of pasta.
Don Juan's Latin Fusion Cuisine: shrimp shooters; grilled shrimp cocktail with Espolón tequila; and pork Panama with sweet sauteed golden-brown plantains, topped with pineapple sauce; also hosting a mojito and sangria bar.
City Folks Ranch: gourmet pecans, almonds and peanuts.
Three area farms will take part in a unique way, via the returning Food to Fork demonstration with Yannick Marchand. McDemas said the chef will incorporate products from Weiser, Moessner and Murray Family farms for his live cooking event.
In the same area, another chef will heat up the evening with a food and beer pairing. Rich Mead, who owns the restaurant “Sage” in Newport Beach, will bring a Spanish favorite to the festival.
"He's roasting padron peppers," McDemas said. "It's done in a basket in open flame, a big wheel with a screen around it, sort of like they use for bingo. He puts them in a cone — like ice cream — served with a little sea salt. Not hot, they're very mild, but one out of 10 can be hot. It's Spanish roulette. You never know which is the spicy one."
In case your luck doesn't hold, the peppers will be served with beer from El Segundo Brewery, which will feature its White Dog IPA and Blue House citra pale.
Beer lovers at the festival can also enjoy a Belgian trio from Advanced Beverage Co. and offerings from Kinetic Brewing Co. out of Lancaster. The breweries are part of the “man cave” the festival offers.
Adding to the energy are live performances through the night. Eagles Heart, an American Indian drum circle and dance group, has expanded and refined its performance.
Musically, Foster Campbell and Friends will headline, with performances by show opener and "Tehachapi Idol" winner Paisley Bishop, Frank Sinatra impersonator Vaughn Suponatime and Highline, a Tom Petty tribute band.
"Singer Dave Bouldin is the spitting image of Tom Petty," McDemas said. "He wears a hat, has the haircut — he really embodies Tom Petty. They've been playing two or three years. They're phenomenal."
Music is great, but it wouldn't be the food and wine festival without the vino. Tehachapi's Souza Family and Triassic Legacy vineyards lead the pack, which includes Imbibe Wine and Spirit Merchant, Croad Vineyards and Drunken Goat Winery (showing its wine press machinery).
Don Juan's, a Tehachapi Latin fusion restaurant, will offer a mojito and sangria bar along with a selection of Chilean and Argentinian wines. Some of that will be part of the VIP lounge, which is not open to everyone.
VIP passes, which cost $100 and were still available as of press-time, offer a private and early entrance (5:30 p.m.), larger wine pours and the services of a private pasta chef in the lounge area.
Returning this year with additional features is the Tehachapi Pavilion sponsored by the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council.
“This is our second year having a pavilion at this event,” said Crystal Kennedy, member of the GTEDC and pavilion coordinator. Since so many out-of-towners are expected at this event, “the GTEDC wanted to provide a relaxed environment for people to learn about all that is going on within our community so they can take a part of Tehachapi with them and make them want to come back.”
Both Brust and McDemas were founding members of the Tehachapi Tourism Commission and work year-round to help promote the community.
“A festival like this helps people learn a lot about Tehachapi — like they can come spend a week here without seeing the same thing twice — and it's the best community in Kern County,” Brust said.
Pre-sale tickets are $40 each and $50 at the gate or $30 for designated drivers (at the gate only.) In Tehachapi, tickets are available at The Apple Shed, Pacino's, The Wine and Cheese Cellar, Triassic Legacy Vineyards and Souza Family Vineyard.
For more information online www.TehachapiFoodAndWine.com or 661-374-0395. Tickets available at The Apple Shed 823-8333, Pacino's 822-9400, The Wine and Cheese Cellar 822-6300, Triassic Legacy Vineyards 822-3478 and Souza Family Vineyard 822-9233.
STEFANI DIAS of The Bakersfield Californian contributed to this report.