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Debut Napa Valley Cabernet Festival Rocks

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It took decades but Napa Valley’s legendary Cabernet Sauvignons finally had their own festival, from Feb 28th - Mar 2! CabFestNV was a three-day celebration featuring more than 100 of the biggest and, perhaps, the smallest boutiques in the wine business from the valley. The beauty of this event was the combination of great Cabernet with interesting and informative panels, seminars and keynote presentations. CabFestNV shined a bright light on the featured performer, Cabernet Sauvignon, and offered an exceptional venue for aficionados and amateurs to learn, taste and compare these beautifully complex wines. Of course the music was another huge draw.

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Capping a day of complimentary Kickoff Wine Tastings at more than fifteen select wineries was the Kickoff Concert at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville, California was famed Oscar-winning actor, singer and songwriter Jeff Bridges. Jeff and his country-rock band, The Abiders took the stage at the Lincoln Theater with Bridge’s daughter Jessie Bridges as the show opener. Jeff and Jessie graciously performed for another hour and a half later at the Cigars & Guitars After Party. The music continued on Saturday night with the Silverado Pickups, a local band composed of esteemed winemakers, vintners and industry professionals. Throughout the Grand Tasting the Orchestra Institute Napa Valley fellows, post graduate level musicians from around the world, performed in various chamber combinations or solo to provide the ambiance and backdrop that one would expect at a Performing Arts Center. Beautiful!

Saturday and Sunday's seminars were lead by wine writing legend Karen MacNeil of the CIA, renowned Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, Master Sommelier Bob Bath, Vintner Marc Mondavi, widely respected grower Andy Beckstoffer and noted winemakers such as Heidi Peterson Barrett, Celia Welch, Martha McClellan, Amy Aiken, Sara Fowler and Dawnine Dyer. Each of these seminars was conducted with style and panache and provided a unique understanding of what makes great Cabernet, how to train ones own palate and other helpful guides to enjoying wine.

The CabFestNV Grand Tasting was Saturday and Sunday in the foyer and balcony of the Lincoln Theater which offered both elegance and intimacy. Each of the participating wineries had a single wine barrel to present and serve their wines for tasting. This 'forced' a certain one on one exchange which offered much more direct dialogue rather than the mob scenes that one sees at other less well organized events.

The Grand Tastings featured more than 50 of the Napa Valley’s most exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon producers each day. The big guys were well represented but the surprises offered by some of the small and edgy boutiques put them on notice. A sampling of participants include: Silver Oak Cellars, Silverado Vineyards, Trefethen, Spottswoode, Caymus, V. Sattui, Etude, Beaulieu Vineyard, Crocker & Starr, Clos du Val, Peju, Ackerman, Frank Family, Louis M. Martini, Chappellet, CADE, Monticello, Spring Mountain, Girard, Antica Napa Valley, Cakebread Cellars, Swanson, Hall, Hess Collection, Whitehall Lane, Chimney Rock, Sequoia Grove, Arrow & Branch, Cliff Lede, Jessup, St. Clement, Round Pond, Pride Mountain, Priest Ranch and Darioush. The delightful edible treats offered during the grand tasting were beautifully created and presented by Cindy Pawlcyn Catering. Yum!

No doubt that this exquisite event will be back in 2015, and beyond, as it takes its place among the North Coast wine country events that make the entire region so attractive to residents and tourists alike. Thanks to the partners and sponsors who made it a reality!

The accompanying slide show highlights some of the outstanding wines experienced at CabFest Napa Valley!

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