NAPA -- For the second year, visitors will flock to the Napa Valley for a food and wine festival that boasts some of the industry's highest-profile chefs and winemakers, all aimed at luring tourists and providing an economic boost to the region during the tourism off-season.
[caption id="attachment_64830" align="alignright" width="405"] Featured chefs at the Flavor Napa Valley welcome dinner at Silverado Resort & Spa on Thursday will be (clockwise from top left) Larry Forgione, co-founder and culinary director of the Conservatory for American Food Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone; Michael Chiarello of Bottega Napa Valley; Iron Chef Marc Forgione and his chef brothers Bryan and Sean; Silverado executive chef Jeffrey Jake; James Beard award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini; and Charlie Palmer, chef, hotelier and owner of Dry Creek Kitchen and a dozen other restaurants nationwide. (photo credit: Flavor Napa Valley)[/caption]
The five-day Flavor Napa Valley festival (flavornapavalley.com) at Silverado Resort & Spa near Napa and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena starts today.
This year's event has additional features designed to improve upon the impressive numbers from last year: hands-on small-group experiences in vineyards, farms, cellars and kitchens and "First Taste Napa," which showcases the restaurant scene in the city of Napa.
"We're feeling very good about ticket sales," said Allison Simpson, a spokeswoman for Visit Napa Valley, formerly known as the Napa Valley Destination Council. "Most events are sold out or will be by the weekend, and our lodging partners indicate that the weekend is looking strong."
In its first year, Flavor Napa Valley attracted more than 3,000 guests over the course of four days, and most events were sold out with waiting lists, according to Visit Napa Valley, the county's official tourism booster.
Of those visitors, only 17 percent were from the Napa Valley, meaning more than 80 percent of the crowd came from beyond the area.
The event also boosted hotels, which saw occupancy increase by 6.6 percent in November 2011 from a year before, average daily rates 8.1 percent, revenue per available room 15.2 percent and overall revenue 15.1 percent, according to Smith Travel Research.
Additionally, more than 2 billion impressions were garnered through earned media channels, according to Visit Napa Valley.