Looking for an afternoon of good wine and food and even better company? Then Kernville is the place to be Saturday for the second annual Cork N Fork Wine & Food Festival.
The event kicked off last year under the guidance of Dawn Jordan and Elise Modrovich, whose bond is forged in blood (they're sisters) and vino (they're owners of Starlite Lounge Restaurant and Wine Bar). The pair combined their love of wine, food and the community for a gathering that helped benefit the Erskine Fire Fund.
Last year's inaugural festival netted $4,000 for the fund, which was founded to assist Kern River Valley families and individuals with unfunded expenses due to the June 2016 blaze.
Modrovich said about 250 people attended the event, held in the Starlite Lounge's ample parking lot, last year. This time around they aim to draw 300 attendees to sample some of the best food from the valley and wines from the Central Coast.
Guests can sample eight dishes and eight wines with their paid admission. Additional tastings are available, five for $10.
Along with the Starlite Lounge, participating restaurants include Big Blue Bear Bistro, Cheryl's Diner, Coffee Mill Cafe, El Rio Mexican & American Grill, Ewings on the Kern, Fremont Deli, Kern River Brewing Co., Pizza Barn, Sierra Vista Restaurant and That's Italian.
Starlite's wine bar focuses on coastal wines and that's what will be offered at the festival. More than 25 wineries will be featured, including Chronic Cellars, Eberle, Opolo Vineyards, Claiborne and Churchill, J. Lohr, Cypher, Fiddletown Cellars, Halter Ranch, Justin and more.
Featured at Starlite's local live music Thursdays, Kern River Band, Out of the Blue, Treacherous Edges and the Joe Tones will play for the crowd.
Proceeds from this year's festival will go to support the preservation and protection of the Kern River and surrounding areas through the Kern River Conservancy, Keepers of the Kern and the Kern Valley River Council.
With a slightly elevated ticket price ($30, up from $25 last year) and adding a raffle, the pair aim to raise even more for the area organizations.
"They do such important work," Modrovich wrote in an email. "The grassroots (Mighty) Keepers Trash Warriors have done an amazing job of cleaning up the Upper Kern River, and now they're planning to expand their efforts to Lake Isabella. The Conservancy took on the Lower Kern last year and have already made huge headway in cleaning that up."
Modrovich said conditions appear favorable for a good time to be had by all on Saturday.
"Now the Wine Gods have decided to shine on us — perfect wine weather of 60 degrees and the rain isn't due to come in till the overnight hours. Yay!"