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Sultans of Sonoma Coast Take Center Stage at Exclusive Annual Gathering

NANTUCKET- The 13th Annual Nantucket Wine Festival, May 13-17, 2009, presented by Viking, celebrates world-renowned wines perfectly paired with exquisite cuisine against the backdrop of some of the island’s most beautiful and historic locations, including the White Elephant Hotel.  The White Elephant, Nantucket’s grande dame and the beautiful waterfront headquarters of the Nantucket Wine Festival, provides an elegant setting for many of the Festival events. This year, the festival has named Ray Coursen, winemaker and owner of Elyse Vineyards as “Luminary of the Year.” 


Highlights of the 2009 Festival include the 2nd annual Luncheon Symposium program, featuring an hour-long tasting and discussion, followed by a luncheon of exquisite food paired with the wines of the participating vignerons; an appearance by San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year, Ehren Jordan; and the Nantucket Historical Association Auction Dinner featuring the king of all Spanish wine and winner of last year’s Luminary of the Year award, Jorge Ordóñez of Fine Estates from Spain, as well as the culinary talents of Daniel Bruce of Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel.


The Festival’s history begins in 1990 when Denis Toner, then working as a Sommelier at Nantucket’s most celebrated restaurant, Chanticleer, realized that there was no better place in the country for a wine and food festival.  The Festival finally got off the ground in 1997 and word spread organically to wine makers and wine lovers. 


“Part of the reason for the Festival’s success is Nantucket’s reputation in the industry as home to a large concentration of fine restaurants, so it is a very important market for wine,” said Denis Toner, Founder, Nantucket Wine Festival. “Since the very beginning, I have spent considerable time seeking out quality wineries—the entire point of the NWF is to emphasize quality over quantity. We’re not the biggest, but hopefully we are the most selective.”


In keeping with the NWF’s commitment to providing the highest quality wine education, this year marks the expansion of the Luncheon Symposia series.  Each program will unfold with a one-hour symposium featuring up to six distinguished winemakers, followed by a four-course luncheon featuring the wines of the guest winemakers.  Attendance will be limited, allowing for meaningful interaction between guests and winemakers.  Available symposia include: Soaring Wines of Spain; Burgundy Roundtable; Franco-American Dejeuner; and All-Star American Lunch.


This year’s stellar lineup of wine and food luminaries also stresses the Festival’s emphasis on quality.  Ehren Jordan, owner of Failla Vineyards and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year will be in attendance, and will speak to Sonoma’s reputation as California’s hottest new wine-producing region. Other guests of interest include: Ray Coursen, owner/winemaker of Elyse Vineyards and the winner of the NWF’s 2009 Luminary of the Year award; Jean-Luc Pépin, Directeur Commercial, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé; Jean-Charles Thomas, Head Winemaker, Maison Louis Latour; Rob and Maria Sinskey, owners, Robert Sinskey Vineyards; Jorge Ordóñez, president and founder, Fine Estates from Spain and the winner of the NWF’s 2008 Luminary of the Year award; Jim Clendenen, owner/winemaker of Au Bon Climat.


Other returning Festival favorites include:


The Gala (May 14), held at the White Elephant Hotel, will feature over 30 tables, each with a winemaker or winery representative and a restaurant chef (from on or off-island) whose cuisine is chosen to match the wines. This is sure to be the event of the season. During the Gala, silent auction items will be displayed and available for bidding, for the benefit of the Nantucket Historical Association.


The Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Auction Dinner (May 16), back for the seventh year, this spectacular wine auction dinner will be held at the White Elephant for the benefit of the Nantucket Historical Association. This dinner will be the marquee event of this year's Festival, featuring the culinary brilliance of Daniel Bruce, of Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel (now celebrating 20 years of wine dinners at the Boston Harbor Hotel), and the critically-acclaimed wines of Fine Estates from Spain, presented by Jorge Ordóñez, president and founder (and the winner of the 2008 Nantucket Wine Festival Luminary of the Year award). The dinner will begin with hors d'oeuvres and an aperitif wine by Fine Estates from Spain.


The Grand Tasting (May 16 & 17) the festival’s signature event, offers a unique sensory experience as more than 125 of the world’s most celebrated wineries pour their wines. Samplings of sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, including artisan breads and cheeses, smoked meats and seafood, Nantucket shellfish, and innovative tapas and delicacies, will emphasize the important relationship between food and wine. In addition, specialty items from many of Nantucket’s finest purveyors and restaurateurs will be available. Other highlights include hourly cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs sharing their secret techniques, stunning wine-related art and glasswork, and fascinating exhibits.  Held for the third year at the Nantucket Yacht Club, the harborside venue creates a memorable backdrop for enjoying wines.

Wine and Food Seminars (consult website for complete listing of seminars and dates), led by the industries’ leading experts, are educational yet in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. New topics for 2009 include: Jasper White’s Secrets of Seafood; Fromage with the King, led by cheese savant Ihsan Gurdal of Formaggio Kitchen; and a Cooking Demonstration with Olivier Muller of Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne.

Winery Lunches & Dinners (consult website for complete listing of offerings and dates) During the festival, some of the world’s finest vintners join forces with Nantucket’s distinctive restaurants to create exquisite dinners, showcasing wines from prized bins deftly paired with gourmet cuisine. Guests at the prix-fixe lunches and dinners will discover the nuances of wine production and explore the marriage of wine and food as experts from the wineries discuss the merits of each selection and answer questions.


One Ticket Package is available this year:

Grand Cru Package (a $775 value for $550)

Includes:           Access to all four Grand Tasting sessions

Access to Saturday morning Early-Admission VIP Reception at the Grand Tasting (available to package purchasers only)

                        Access to the Opening Night Reception

Tickets to three additional Wine and Food Seminars (based on availability)

Laminated personalized NWF entry pass

2009 NWF poster signed by artist Kerry Hallam

NWF hat

Tickets to the Grand Tasting are sold in two-hour increments, from 12-2 or 3-5 on both Saturday and Sunday.  Advance tickets are $85 per session or $150 for two sessions (sessions may be either on the same day or separate days); one ticket package is also available. Ticket prices increase as of March 1, 2009.  Proper ID required. For a comple
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