Chamber Bids Farewell to the Swallows with Food & Wine Festival
By Fred Swegles
If Father Serra could have suddenly materialized out of thin air to appear at the 2019 San Juan Capistrano Food & Wine Festival, he’d have found himself surrounded by multicolored lights, decorated vendor booths, a 12-piece swing band on a sound stage and close to 1,000 smiling faces, sampling and serving savory foods and spirits, dancing and having a good time on the grounds of the Spanish mission that Serra founded 243 years ago.
The sainted priest no doubt would have been feted as guest of honor, toasted by all as father of the California wine industry.
He also might have been surprised to see that attendees didn’t vote any of the dozens of wines to be the most popular beverage at the Oct. 5 festival.
It was Dog Pawrk Brewing Co. of San Juan Capistrano whose beer was toasted by voters as “best sip” at the lavish party.
Then again, it wasn’t just a food and wine fest. Among the offerings from some 60 food and beverage vendors were craft beers, rums, tequilas, vodkas and specialty drinks.
H.H. Cotton’s American Bar & Grill of San Clemente was voted No. 1 among the food vendors, declared to be the “best taste” at the festival.
A festival participant selects an offering of pork, tortilla, sauce and beans served by El Adobe de Capistrano at the San Juan Chamber of Commerce's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Scenic Mission San Juan Capistrano provides a storied ambience as Five Vines Wine Bar of San Juan Capistrano serves patrons at San Juan Capistrano's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
(From left) Jessica Cameron, Tami Anderson and Dana McDonald from Ladera Ranch enjoy San Juan Capistrano's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Evarist Lobo of Mission Viejo and Rachel McEuen of Lake Forest put on a dance demo to the big-band sounds of The Fresh Rhythm at San Juan Capistrano's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
John Fischle from Dana Point savors organic Dulce Vida tequila at San Juan Capistrano's 23rd annual Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Vocalist Luke Carlsen is front man for The Fresh Rhythm, a 12-piece jazz swing band that entertained for San Juan Capistrano's 23rd annual Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Jannette Gonzalez from El Adobe de Capistrano hands out fresh-made tortillas with pork, sauces and beans at the Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Alyvia Noonan tips the Chihuahua to serve up a glass of Chihuahua Cerveza at San Juan Capistrano's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Capistrano Bakery Cafe servers offer advice on which macaroon flavors guests might like to sample during San Juan Capistrano's Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Alyssa Jackson, left, and Diana Lua from San Clemente pause to pose for a digital photograph as a souvenir of San Juan Capistrano's 23rd annual Food & Wine Festival. Photo: Fred Swegles
Participants in San Juan Capistrano's 23rd annual Food & Wine Festival find out for themselves what Bacanora is. Photo: Fred Swegles
The grounds of the mission were looking as resplendent as ever at the 23rd annual Food & Wine Festival hosted by the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce.
“This is such an intimate setting,” said George Peppas III, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “Very classy.”
The festival is the Chamber of Commerce’s annual fundraiser, helping the organization promote the local economy and local businesses.
“We have great support from the community,” Peppas said.
The festival also marks the end of the season during which migratory swallows nest in San Juan. Typically, the birds—famous in song and in lore for their yearly return to San Juan—are said to depart in October, flying to Argentina to spend the South American summer there.
“This is our goodbye to the swallows,” Peppas said.
El Adobe de Capistrano and the Swallow’s Inn headed a list of Food & Wine Festival sponsors. There were prize drawings. Silent auctions. Big-band music by The Fresh Rhythm. And community exposure for the vendors showcasing cuisines and libations.
Nathan Beckham, co-founder and director of innovation at Dog Pawrk Brewing Co., said the timing was nice to be recognized as No. 1 “sip” at the festival. He is planning in the coming months to open a tap room with a food component and a small R&D brewing system at a San Juan Capistrano location under negotiation now.
The award presented to Dog Pawrk at the Food & Wine Festival was actually a double score for the brewery.
“The day before,” Beckham said, “we were Brewery of the Event at the San Juan Hills Golf Club’s Oktobeerfest. It was a crazy couple of days!”