NAPA — Tourism, hospitality and restaurant industry representatives gathered Thursday at the Silverado Resort to officially kick off Flavor Napa Valley, a four-day festival that will celebrate the region’s affinity for food and wine while luring visitors during the off season.
The Napa Valley Destination Council, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Dolce Hotel Group, and the Napa Valley Vintners, among others, all joined forces to form the festival, to begin in November, that proponents say is long overdue for a region synonymous with first-rate wine and dinning.
The kick-off featured a veritable pantheon of Napa Valley chefs, among them Michael Chairello, Ken Frank, Jeffrey Jake, Thomas Keller, Christopher Kostow and Cindy Pawlcyn. They were joined by Tyler Florence and Masaharu Morimoto, of Food Network fame, who both are opening restaurants along Napa’s Rivefront.
Partly funded by Napa’s tourism business improvement district, or TBID, along with numerous sponsorships, the festival is the first of this significance dedicated to wine and food in Napa Valley, Mr. Frank, the head chef at La Toque in Napa, said.
As a long-time resident and chef, Mr. Frank said he actively supported the creation of the Destination Council and the TBID, a 2 percent assessment applied to visitor’s rooms, so that Napa Valley could showcase its offerings on its own turf.
“South Beach, Aspen, they have to fly in the chefs,” he said, referring to premiere wine and food festivals elsewhere. “We don’t have to do that.”
“It’s a good example of how TBID seed money can really grow,” he said of the festival and its sponsorships. The TBID is expected to generate up to $4 million annually and will be used for destination marketing. The previous budget for such marketing was approximately $437,000.
Net proceeds of the festival will go directly to CIA Greystone’s scholarship fund.
“The entire restaurant industry, the hospitality industry, the wine industry, are all together,” said CIA Managing Director Charles Henning. “To be able to have the support … is exceptional.”
“This is great for the Napa Valley and also a wonderful opportunity for the premier culinary college in the world to open its doors to the attendees of Flavor Napa Valley,” Mr. Henning added. “Our students will benefit greatly from the festivities through the additional financial aid.”
Clay Gregory, chief executive officer of the destination council, noted in his remarks that Napa Valley has more Michelin-rated restaurants than any other region in the world. Napa Valley earned 14 Michelin Stars — the highest honor in the industry — in 2010, according to the destination council.
He added, “It will all be done in Napa Valley style — local food, local wine — all fresh.”
Mr. Frank said the November start time was chosen to bring visitors during the off-season, a goal identified by the destination council to keep the tourism-related sectors viable year-round.
John Evans, general manager of Silverado, said that with Dolce taking over the resort and spa just eight months ago, the festival and the kick off for it were an appropriate introduction.
“We couldn’t be more pleased,” he said. “Napa Valley needed a festival of this scale. It’s Napa, you think wine and food.
Numerous Napa chefs lauded the creation of the festival.
“I have been pushing for this for a long time and am very excited it’s finally happening,” said Mr. Chiarello a CIA graduate and owner of Bottega Restaurant and NapaStyle. “Given how much talent is here and our community’s well-known leadership in crafting the finest food and wine experiences, a signature culinary event in Napa Valley is long overdue.”
Flavor Napa Valley will run from Nov. 17–20 at Silverado and CIA Greystone in St. Helena. The festival will be produced by Karlitz & Company, a New York-based agency that produces wine and food events across the country, among them the Food Network New York City Food & Wine Festival.
Tickets go on sale May 16 and are available at www.flavornapavalley.com.
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