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Media Contact: Christopher Taranto
Phone: 805-238-8463

New Culinary Theme Proves Positive for Festival Goers and Organizers

Paso Robles, Calif. (May 21, 2008) - The 26th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival provided an unparalleled experience for more than 5,200 wine enthusiasts on Saturday, May 17, 2008. The new, nationally publicized culinary theme to the Festival boosted advance ticket sales to 4,415 tickets sold or 74% of the total tickets available - a new benchmark for this 26 year marquee wine country event. The Wine Festival's new RESERVE and Premium ticket levels, which offered value added benefits accounted for 26% of the Festival attendee, also a new event standard. The Wine Festival is a weekend experience offering wine enthusiasts many options from wine tasting to golf to winemakers dinners to shopping in downtown.

Kicking off the weekend was the RESERVE event on the evening of Friday, May 16. More than 70 wineries showcased Reserve, Library or Barrel Sample wines to more than 350 wine enthusiasts in the Downtown City Park. This new event offered wine enthusiasts a unique opportunity to taste special wines not normally featured at the Wine Festival or tasting rooms. Attendees were greeted by winery representatives as winemakers, growers and sommeliers mingled within the crowd, ready to discuss the wines featured.

On Saturday, May 17 attendees had access to sample more than 300 wines offered by 91 Paso Robles wineries in the Paso Robles Downtown City Park. The regions marquee event featured new culinary components - a Demonstration Kitchen featuring the talent of top local chefs and culinary bites of lamb and beef provided by the American Lamb Board and Hearst Ranch Beef. Artisan Alley included purveyors of local olive oil, lavender, bread, Abalone, and cheese. Attendees cleansed their palates with Fiji Water as they paired food samples with their favorite wines. Hydration was an important element to the Festival with nearly 12,000 free bottled waters consumed on this warm pre-summer day.

"Festival goers experienced what makes Paso Robles such a great wine grape growing region on Saturday," said Alex Villicana, co-chair of the Paso Robles Wine Festival committee and owner of Villicana Winery. "The hot days and cool nights are pivotal to the development of Paso's high quality grapes which translates into the premium wines sampled at the annual Festival."

The premium wines of Paso Robles were also featured and discussed at wine education seminars, a new component to the Paso Robles Wine Festival. The first seminar, led by a local Sommelier team, tasted and discussed representative varietal samples of wines from Paso Robles. The second seminar was conducted by Steve Heimoff, West Coast Editor of The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, provided attendees a unique chance to discuss Paso Robles wines with an industry expert.

"The Paso Robles Wine Festival continues to be a marquee event for Paso Robles Wine Country and provides new and repeat visitors a prime opportunity to have a Wine Country experience neatly packaged into a single weekend," said Stacie Jacob, Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. "The new epicurean enhancements to the Paso Robles Wine Festival truly round out this event by bringing in the natural complement of food to wine, offering Festival goers another reason to enjoy the Festival weekend."

The Paso Robles Wine Festival weekend is framed by individual events at the area wineries throughout the three days with more than 110 wineries holding special open houses, barbecues, exhibitions, food pairing seminars, and more on Sunday, May 18, 2008.

By the numbers:
•Advance ticket sales - 4,415 or 74% of total tickets available
•Total ticket sales - 5,235
•Total water bottles consumed - 11,976
•High temperature - 103 degrees Fahrenheit (record 100 degrees in 1997)
•Volunteers - 130
•Wineries showcased at the 2008 Festival - 91
•Pounds of Beef and Lamb provided - 1,700*
(*left-over product was donated to local food bank and other charitable organizations)
•Economic impact of wine tourism to San Luis Obispo County - $113M
•Wine country visitors to San Luis Obispo County annually - 1.2M

The Paso Robles Wine Festival weekend is held annually on the third weekend of May. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, with the guidance of the Paso Robles Wine Festival Committee, organizes the logistics, markets and implements the annual event. The 2009 Paso Robles Wine Festival weekend is set for May 15 - 17, 2009, with the marquee event on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, represents wineries, growers and businesses in Paso Robles Wine Country. Centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, along California's Central Coast, Paso Robles Wine Country is California's fastest growing wine region. It encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and more than 170 wineries.
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