Inaugurated in 2012, the Monterey Bay Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival beckons Bay-area residents to take part in an afternoon filled with meat, music, and mead. Local chefs, including restaurant professionals and amateurs, compete to see who can win over the judges with bacon-centric dishes that festivalgoers can sample throughout the day. Although judges determine the grand-prize winner, guests decide the People’s Choice titleholder through a unique voting process. Each festivalgoer is granted nine marbles with which to vote, and at the end of the event, contestants’ marble jars are weighed to crown the winner. As the afternoon endures, a lineup of local and national blues musicians aims its tunes at the open sky, simultaneously entertaining onlookers and emphasizing with the lonely Man in the Moon.
The López family owns three local liquor stores and a restaurant; Francisco Jacobo manages a local radio station. Together, they join forces for a common interest: tequila. Beginning this year, they are hosting their annual Salinas Tequila and Mezcal Grand Tasting, an event that gathers a variety of aged agaves for the tasting.
At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.