As we enter the fourth quarter of 2021, I’m holding my breath and keeping my fingers crossed that the pandemic and all of the restrictions affiliated with the COVID outbreak will eventually wind down. This epidemic has caused an incalculable amount of personal and economic suffering on a global scale, and everyone longs for a return to some sense of normalcy. Those of us who were untouched by this tragedy must consider ourselves extremely fortunate. For me, life post-pandemic means a return to a normal workplace environment; freedom to gather with friends and family; patronizing local businesses and restaurants, and last but not least: travel.

My first foray out of state in over a year and a half will come to no surprise for most: a wine event. I take great pleasure attending wine-centric affairs. These activities offer participants the opportunity to sample new or unique products, meet with the winemakers and socialize with others who understand and appreciate the work involved in making superior quality wines. Having attended festivals, grand tastings and conferences locally, nationwide and abroad, there is one event which has been on my bucket list since I moved to SaddleBrooke: The San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival.

The festival, which spans four days— Thursday, November 11 through Sunday, November 14th, has received national acclaim by a number of media outlets as being one of the best wine and food festivals in the country. Since its inception in 2004, the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival has evolved into a major gathering of winemakers, craft brewers, chefs and culinary artisans, brought together to showcase the breadth and depth of the food and wine culture in southern California.

Cancelled last year due to the pandemic, this year’s festival has been pared down from its usual week-long run, but the signature events are still being presented, along with numerous specialty wine dinners hosted by area restaurants.

The two premier events for the festival are the Grand Decant on Friday, November 12 and Grand Tasting on Saturday, November 13. Held at the Juliet Event Venue in Mission Hills, the Grand Decant assembles some of the state’s top sommeliers, wineries and winemakers for a walk around tasting. Patrons are offered the opportunity to sample wines from over 200 domestic and international wineries featuring over 500 different wines. The Grand Tasting, a larger and more casual event held outdoors at the Embarcadero Marine Park on the bay is San Diego’s biggest foodie party of the year, providing attendees access to a myriad variety of cuisines and libations.

San Diego has been one of my favorite getaways since moving here from the east coast. There is no shortage of museums to visit, restaurants to dine at and eclectic neighborhoods to roam through. Plus, there’s something about being near the ocean that reinvigorates me. For those looking for an excuse to venture away from Tucson, this is a great one. Complete information on the festival, as well as host hotels can be found at I hope to see some of my neighbors there.


Tom Oetinger holds an advanced certification in wine & spirits from the WSET in London, England. He is available to assist you with your wine events or answer your wine questions. Tom also offers a free email service, recommending high quality, good value wines available locally. Contact / subscribe at

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