California wine connoisseurs, mark your calendars: March 2 is the start of the third annual Berkeley Wine Festival at the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa in Berkeley, Calif. The festival will honor eight vineyards from the Sonoma, Napa, and Central California Coast regions with a two-month series of exclusive wine events and pairing dinners. The Claremont’s Meritage restaurant will host a full pairing dinner every Wednesday night through April 25, and the hotel will offer a limited number of special room rates for guests (from about $130 per night).
The opening-night reception will kick off with a sample of dishes from prominent Berkeley restaurants paired with more than 45 wine samples (from $65 per person); and every subsequent Wednesday, 60 guests will have the opportunity to taste wines from a different vineyard, with food prepared by the Claremont’s executive chef, Josh Thomsen, to complement the vintner’s selections. On April 11, for example, winemaker Michael Silacci of Opus One in Napa Valley will serve three Opus vintages with chef Thomsen’s menu of sweet corn custard with morel mushrooms and asparagus; pork belly with razor clams, chorizo, and sweet onions; and roasted beef tenderloin with bone marrow crust, Swiss chard, porcini mushrooms, and porcini braising jus ($195 per person). Other notable wineries include Hirsch Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars, and Paso Robles’ Justin Vineyards & Winery. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner will benefit Wine to Water, which helps provide clean water to people in need around the world. (510.898.0040, www.berkeleywinefestival.com)