San Francisco’s majestic City Hall was the setting for Wine Enthusiast’s fifth annual Toast of the Town, held on April 7. The iconic Beaux Arts building hosted more than 1,000 wine and food lovers as well as 500 trade members, who gathered on a chilly but clear evening to taste 500-plus local and international wines and enjoy food from 30 top local restaurants.
The event had been held the previous four years in the city’s Opera House. The venue was changed, explained Wine Enthusiast Publisher Adam Strum, “because City Hall is a focal point of cultural significance and aesthetic grandeur.”
Gourmet, freshly prepared dishes were served up by lauded chefs and accompanied by a diverse array of wines poured by winemakers from around the world. Stations spread from the building’s great central rotunda, directly beneath the structure’s gold-plated dome, and down its marbled corridors to the South and North Light Courts, as well as up the grand stairwell to the balcony. The balcony has been featured in many Hollywood movies, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Wedding Planner and Milk.
Wineries pouring included Louis M. Martini, Schramsberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Boisset Family Estates, Jackson Family Wines, St. Supery and a portfolio from Maison Marques & Domaines. Craft beers from Unibroue and Sam Adams and spirits, including Michter’s Bourbon, were also on hand. Restaurants ran the gamut from St. Helena’s Press and the Restaurant at Wente Brothers to San Francisco establishments such as Waterbar, Twenty Five Lusk and Farallon.
During the proceedings, Strum presented a donation of $15,000 to the Wine Market Council, a non-profit association that conducts comprehensive research into wine industry trends. Wine Enthusiast also made a donation to San Francisco CARE.
“We had a great time pouring at this year’s Toast of the Town,” said Richard Sowalski, vice president and winemaker at Napa Valley’s Clos Pegase Winery. “It attracts such a great crowd, and the venue, City Hall, is really awesome.”
Toast of the Town originated in New York, where it has been held at Lincoln Center annually. It will take place again there this year on May 5. The 2011 TOTT series continues additionally in Washington D.C. (May 20), Chicago (June 17) and Miami (September 23). In each city, the event is held in a setting of historic and/or cultural significance. Visit toastofthetown.com or call 800.847.5949 for tickets.