Five cool California food festivals to visit in September

The annual Farm to Fork celebration in Sacramento will run Sept. 13-28.
(Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau)

After Labor Day, California hunkers down for wine harvests and food festivals around the state. Spend time tasting and sipping at these five events near and far that make a nice weeklong or weekend getaway.

--Sacramento’s Farm to Fork Celebration Sept. 13-28 starts off on a poignant and important note. The Farm to Every Fork dinner Sept. 13 invites guests to buy a meal for themselves ($150 per person) and another for someone in need. The idea is to help feed the area’s hungry, and proceeds from the dinner made by local chefs go to local charities. There are mini fests within this event: a Legends of Wine evening at the state Capitol on Sept. 18; special Restaurant Weeks events; and the free daylong festival Sept. 27 that offers tastings and samples of food grown within 350 miles of the city.

Info: Farm to Fork Festival

--Log sawing, stein toting and yodel contests? It’s the 44th annual Oktoberfest in Big Bear Lake, Calif., Sept. 13 to Oct. 25. Two authentic polka bands -- Goldeizen Band from Bavaria and Aalbachtal Express from southern Germany -- will be featured this year as well as a one-time Oktoberfest Unplugged five-course pairing meal ($97 per person) for those who want to become immersed in the history of the fest. Sausages, German beer, pretzels and more will be served too. Adult general admission costs $7 to $28 depending on when you go.


Info: Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, (909) 585-3000

--Craft beer meets the blues at the California Beer Festival in Ventura on Sept. 20 and 21. The event at Mission Park has different themes each day, but visitors can buy a pass for both. On Sept. 20, more than 130 craft brews will be featured along with food trucks and live music at Craft Beer Heaven. On Sept. 21, the mood changes to the Blues and BBQ Festival with artists such as Ana Popovic, Robben Ford and the Bottom Line. Fans who want an early start can purchase a VIP pass for $109 for both days that adds a Friday dinner where you sample six food-and-beer pairings and vote for your favorite. Tickets and passes range from $30 to $109.

Info: California Beer Festival

--Sip LBC is Long Beach’s first venture into the weeklong whirl of showcasing cocktails, wine and beer runs from Sept. 21-27. More than 20 bars and restaurants will be mixing up “562" cocktails (think area code) for $5.62 and food and drink pairings for $18.88 (“an homage to the year Long Beach was founded,” a statement explains). Events include a mixology demo, Tequila Tuesday and sessions on gin and whiskeys from around the world. A Sip and the City Launch Party kicks off the fest from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Sababa Restaurant and Lounge (6527 E. Pacific Coast Highway); $75 in advance, $85 at the door.


Info: Sip LBC

--Gourmet food and wine from San Luis Obispo and surrounding towns are showcased each year at the Sunset Savor the Central Coast, which is Sept. 25-28. “Top Chef” Fabio Viviani and San Francisco’s Tanya Holland are the featured talent this year at the festival, which includes cooking and wine seminars, an evening wine tasting at Hearst Castle and a Friday night Winemaker Dinner with Holland and others. The main events Sept. 27 and 28, during which visitors can enjoy unlimited wine and food tastings, are held at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch in Santa Margarita. Main event tickets start at $85 a person; cooking events and seminars cost extra.

Info: Sunset Savor the Central Coast