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Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

By Andrea Stuart | Photos by Michelle Magdalena & Michael Troutman

In early summer 2020, Big Sur Food & Wine Festival (BSFWF) made the difficult decision to cancel its yearly culinary event. The organizers began devising plans for 2021, as the shifting parameters of the current global pandemic continued to pose challenges. They put on their proverbial oxygen masks and prepared for an emergency landing into next year.

A project of the Big Sur Food & WineFoundation, Inc., BSFWF’s mission is to

promote Big Sur “as a culinary destination, supporting the overall health, character, and

vitality of the Big Sur community.” Numerous nonprofits depend on BSFWF for financial

support. In 2019, the festival raised $100,000 for 12 local organizations that included Pacific Valley School and Big Sur Health Center.

As a result of having to cancel this year, the organization did not have the resources to provide its usual financial support, and consequently shifted its focus onto itself for funding. BSFWF is continuing to seek financial support in the form of grants and donations so it can plan for next year’s activities, as well as exploring additional support platforms to draw long-term security for the organization.

One such campaign is seeking lifeline donors, that is, individuals or organizations with the financial resources to support the festival annually. This will enable the organizers to promote the event and sell tickets earlier, which is pertinent in the evolving climate of uncertainty. “Historically, the bulk of our revenue came within a three-month timeframe leading up to the actual event,” says Elsa Rivera, CFO and Events Director of BSFWF. Having relied on the generosity of private homeowners and commercial venues for hosting events in previous years—including Ventana Inn and Post Ranch Inn—the festival organizers are hoping that their supporters will be able to participate in the 2021 festivities.

Despite the challenges, next year’s festival is taking shape. There are new considerations for a traditional three-day event, but Rivera and the other organizers are also considering segmenting the activities by hosting an opening night that is followed by a series of pop-ups. “One way or the other, guests can expect memorable winemakers’ dinners, the Pinot Walkabout, Magical Mystery Tours, Hiking with Stemware, and likely a few more surprises,” she says.

The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization and runs on an all-volunteer staff. To inquire about opportunities, contact Elsa Rivera at 831- 596-8105 or learn more about Big Sur Food & Wine Festival,


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