The return of the Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival attracts 550 visitors

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the annual Newport Beach Wine Festival returned to Balboa Bay Resort this weekend under the new name, Newport Beach Wine and Spirits.

Jason Hsieh, catering manager at Balboa Bay Resort, hosted the event for the first time this year. He proposed the name change to better describe the assortment of libations he added.

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

“Besides wine, we added different spirits, featuring mezcals and tequila, which became the most popular mainstream spirits.”

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

(Susan Hoffmann)

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

This year, in addition to music provided by a DJ and the LA Lakers band, a collection of vendors also showcased the outdoor property where guests toured unique carts and pop-up tents rather than traditional tables.

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

“We have the mixer installed, they get on the bike and their power makes the magic happen,” said Patrón representative Cassandra Marquis.

Austin Cervantes de Corona pedals the Patrón "margarita bike" as Cassandra Marquis listens to the roar of the blender.

Corona’s Austin Cervantes pedals the Patrón “margarita bike” while Cassandra Marquis listens to the roar of the blender. Chelsea Jarrell, right, tends the bar during Sunday’s Newport Beach Wine & Spirits Festival at Balboa Bay Resort.

(Susan Hoffman)

Casamigos placed a replica of a lifeguard tower painted seafoam green and white as a presentation of their tequila. Across the way, a cut of actor Miles Teller greeted attendees as they entered the large bright blue long Finnish tent.

Wes and Kathy Iseley sample the Finnish long drink at 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 Balboa Bay Resort.

(Susan Hoffmann)

To top off the festivities on Sunday, the crowd of guests gathered on the lawn were entertained by a performance by an aerial artist from Cirque Mirage using suspended fabrics to fly. As she choreographed her body’s tumble, swing and spiral, guests whipped out cellphones to shoot videos and photos before being treated to a taste of champagne poured by the acrobat hanging from upside down.

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 Balboa Bay Resort.

(Susan Hoffmann)

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

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

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