Wine Buzz: Grape & Gourmet returns to Cal Expo, but not during fair

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3D

Plans are firming up for the 2012 edition of the Grape & Gourmet wine event at Cal Expo, albeit with some tweaks.

The event features pours of winning wines from the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition along with food sampling from regional restaurants. After a stint at the Sacramento Convention Center, Grape & Gourmet moved to Cal Expo in 2011 for one very hot day at the California State Fair.

The move wasn't such a good one. Winery owners and the general public alike complained that the wines weren't keeping well during a sweltering late afternoon at the fair.

So, although Grape & Gourmet will take place once again at Cal Expo, it will come after the fair – which runs from July 12-29 – when the event can be inside the indoor exhibition halls.

This setup is similar to Grape & Gourmet's initial appearance at Cal Expo, before moving in 2009 to the Sacramento Convention Center. Slumping attendance and date conflicts at the convention center instigated the move back to Cal Expo last year.

Look for the date for Grape & Gourmet 2012 to be firmed up in the next few weeks.

"We're looking at a couple different dates," said Brian May, deputy general manager of Cal Expo. "We need to look at how quickly the buildings can be cleaned up from the fair. It'll be a similar concept to what we've done before."

We'll keep you posted when that Grape & Gourmet date is confirmed.

Oscar night cameo

OK, so he wasn't at the actual Academy Awards on Sunday night, but if you looked closely, you'd find a former Sacramento sommelier in one of the night's commercials.

An Oscar-night commercial for American Express featured famed restaurateur Thomas Keller and his Michelin-starred eateries in Yountville: The French Laundry and Bouchon. One scene from the commercial showed the nightly staff meeting at The French Laundry, and included in the lineup was a former Sacramentan named Garth Hodgdon, who's a sommelier at The French Laundry.

If you recall, "Wine Buzz" wrote a couple of columns about Hodgdon, an advanced-level sommelier who used to commute from his Natomas home to work in Keller's Yountville restaurants. Keep on truckin', Garth.

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Read more articles by Chris Macias

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