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AAPI winemakers, chefs bring taste of home to food & wine fest

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

Chinese workers helped build California’s oldest winery in Sonoma County, Buena Vista.

They also built the roads, cleared the land and planted and harvested the grapes in the mid-1800s that paved the way for the Napa and Sonoma County wine region.

Today wineries such as Shunyi Cellars from proprietor George Zhang to Jane Jiang’s family-run Duncan Peak Vineyards, Asian and Asian American winemakers are carrying on that legacy.

Both winemakers will be among those featured at the first-ever POC Food and Wine Festival in Berkeley and San Francisco May 2 -5.

Gina Mariko Rosales
Gina Mariko Rosales is the brainchild behind the POC Food and Wine Festival. Photo by Randall Yip

“It’s not a surprise to me that Asians want to make their mark in this industry and create something that’s sustainable to them,” said organizer Gina Mariko Rosales, a Filipino American who launched the successful Filipino Night Market in San Francisco seven years ago. “There’s so many beautiful POC winemakers that are out there and chefs, but they don’t necessarily get access to the bigger festivals,” she declared during an interview with AsAmNews.

Rosales is out to change that.

Jiang oversees every aspect of her organic winery from, as she puts it, the “weed racking. pruning and picking the grapes” to “ferment and bottle, and of course, aging and bottle.”

She says it’s only natural that Asian women work in the wine industry as she believes they have the palate for it. She refers to a study out of the University of Nottingham in the U.K. that found Asian women have stronger taste buds than others.

Jane Jiang of Duncan Peak Vineyard pours a glass of wine.
Jane Jiang of Duncan Peak Vineyard. Photo by Randall Yip

“So that kind of drove me to go into the wine industry and apply for my first internship. That’s how I started falling in love with wine,” she told AsAmNews.

She’ll be one of 30 beer, wine and liquor brands represented along with 20 chefs and 10 DJs and live performances at the three-day event.

Several big-name celebrity chefs will be among those serving up the food.

They include:

  • Tu David Phu, Top Chef Season 15 Alum
  • Reem Assil, Reem’s California, Nominated for the James Beard Award Outstanding Chef 2022
  • Nelson German, Sobre Mesa, Top Chef Season 18 Alum
  • David Yoshiura, Nisei, One-Star Michelin Rated Restaurant
  • Monique Feybesse, Tarts de Feybesse, Top Chef Season 19 Alum
  • Marcelle & Chris Yang, Piglet & Co, Eater’s Best New Restaurant 2023
  • Emily Lim of Dabao Singapore, James Beard Nominated Emerging Chef 2024
Denise Huynh prepares a Vietnamese dish
Denise Huynh of Tay Ho. Photo by Randall Yip

While the inspiration for their culinary creations vary, a common theme emerged in talking to some of the featured chefs.

“It’s my mom’s cooking,” Denise Huynh of Tay Ho in Oakland told AsAmNews. “The menu is really a reflection of what I ate growing up.”

Andrey Tang of Batik and Baker
Andrey Tang of Batik and Baker. Photo by Randall Yip

She’s planning to make banh khot, a savory turmeric rice cake made with rice flour, coconut water, tumeric and coconut milk. She describes it as street food you won’t normally find in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Audrey Teng of Batik and Baker will showcase her suri muka, a Malaysian dessert she misses from home. It has sticky rice on the bottom, lightly salted butterfly pea flower topped with pandan coconut custard.

 “I just missed kind of like seeing my parents miss like the flavors that I had growing up. So I was like, you know what, I can’t find it here. I’m just gonna make it,” she said to AsAmNews.

Gina Marko Rosales
Gina Mariko Rosales. Make It Mariko photo

This will be the first year of the POC Food and Wine Festival, but Rosales is confident it’ll be just as successful as San Francisco’s Filipino Night Market.

It kicks off Thursday, May 2 with an opening Palestinian family meal from Chef Reen Assil of Reem’s California. That’s followed the next day with an opening reception with three DJs, chef tasting, beverages and intimate conversation.

Saturday is the main event with 15 chefs offering tastings and wine pairings, along with art and retail vendors. There will also be several after-parties to meet every taste including an R&B Soul Lounge; a CBD wine and sound bath; and a Brown is Beautiful party and fashion show.

Sunday’s closing meal features chef Haejin Chun who recently released his cannabis cookbook High Times; Let’s Get Baked.

Tickets are available at PoCfoodandwine.com/tickets.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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