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Return of Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival attracts 550 visitors

Karri Yee, from left, Austin Cervantes, Barrett Yee and Jordan Yee enjoy the Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival.
From left, Karri Yee, Austin Cervantes, Barrett Yee and Jordan Yee enjoy bike-powered margaritas during the Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival on Sunday at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Susan Hoffman)

After a two-year interruption due to the pandemic, the annual Newport Beach Wine Festival returned to the Balboa Bay Resort over the weekend under a new name: Newport Beach Wine & Spirits.

Jason Hsieh, food and beverage director for Balboa Bay Resort, organized the event for his first time this year. He came up with the name change to better describe the libations assortment he added.

“In the past it was mainly wine, with 20 vendors and food stations, which to me was limited in terms of choices,” Hsieh said. “My idea this year was to bring in three times the amount.

“Besides wine, we added different spirits, offering mezcals and tequila, which have become the most popular dominant spirit that’s taken over.”

Nolan Cobborn, left, took turns with John-Paul Neville, pouring wine from Bonnie Doon Vineyard.
Nolan Cobborn left, and John-Paul Neville took turns pouring wine from Bonnie Doon Vineyard during Sunday’s Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Susan Hoffman)

The festival, as has been its tradition, also included a good representation of wine varieties and several stations with light bites such as sushi, sliders, gourmet salsa and sweet treats.

This year, along with music provided by a DJ and the L.A. Lakers band, a collection of vendors also showcased the outdoor property where guests visited unique pop-up carts and tents rather than traditional tables.

Among the crowd pleasers was Patrón Tequila’s “margarita bike,” where visitors could make their own margaritas by pedaling a stationary bike.

“We set up the blender, they get on the bike and their power makes the magic happen,” said Patrón representative Cassandra Marquis.

Austin Cervantes of Corona del Mar pedals the Patrón "margarita bike" as Cassandra Marquis listens.
Austin Cervantes of Corona del Mar pedals the Patrón “margarita bike” as Cassandra Marquis listens to the whirring of the blender. Chelsea Jarrell, right, tends bar during Sunday’s Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Susan Hoffman)

Casamigos positioned a replica of a lifeguard tower painted seafoam green and white as a presentation of the establishment’s tequila. Across the way, a cutout of actor Miles Teller greeted attendees as they entered the large Finnish Long bright blue tent.

Wes and Kathy Iseley sample the Finnish Long drink during Sunday's Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival.
Wes and Kathy Iseley sample the Finnish Long drink during Sunday’s Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Susan Hoffman)

To top off the festivities on Sunday, a Cirque Mirage aerial artist using suspended silks entertained the crowd of guests gathered on the lawn. As Chastin Johnson’s body dropped, swung and spiraled, guests whipped out cellphones shooting video and photos before they were treated with a taste of champagne poured by the upside-down hanging acrobat.

Cirque Mirage aerial artist Chastin Johnson pours champagne for guests, while hanging upside down.
Cirque Mirage aerial artist Chastin Johnson pours champagne for guests while hanging upside down during Sunday’s Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Susan Hoffman)

With about 550 guests attending the festival, now in its 18th year, Hsieh said he was happy with the turnout and pleased with the positive feedback he received.

“The cirque acrobatic entertainment was a huge hit on the second day,” said Hsieh. “All [guests] had the best time and [they] said adding the spirits was the best idea as so many really had creative props.”

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