By: Darin Szilagyi
Wine X Online Edition
October 1, 2018
Coming off of Tiger’s big win at the Tour Championship and the buzz of last weekend’s Ryder Cup, golf has been the topic du jour lately, and this week’s Safeway Open presented by Chevron at Silverado Resort and Spa guarantees to keep that momentum going. PGA TOUR events often showcase the host community, and without question the Safeway Open highlights the best of Napa in a jaw-dropping but fun package
Wine X had a chance to get a sneak peak of all that is in store, and just being honest, we think anyone who can get there ought to find a way. Here’s our conversation with Lagardere Sports Executive Vice President, Jeff Sanders who is building something special at the Safeway Open
Wine X: Start from the top. Every PGA TOUR event has its angle. What’s the narrative for the Safeway Open?
Sanders: It starts with the idea of showcasing the authenticity of Napa. Silverado is a beautiful, historic place that provides a perfect foundation for what we wanted to do. Second & third, when you think of Napa, you think of the opulent wines and the finest foods. Finally, Napa is about experiences and hospitality. So what we are doing is building an experience for everyone: players, spectators, the community and our partners. That experience is based on the perfect blend of four elements: professional golf, wine, food and music. We have the formula for a wonderful week of memory making.
Wine X: Let’s talk about the wine first
Sanders: Easy. We have 40 wineries that are involved with the event such as Caymus, Treasury, BV George DeLaTour and Duckhorn just to name a few. I can’t imagine a wine lover will find a better the selection or the quality of wines at any other sporting event. And that’s also a natural for our sponsor, Safeway, too. Safeway is one of the largest premium wine retailers. The wine connection for this event is just natural
Wine X: It’s like one big wine tasting on grass! OK now the food….
Sanders: Keeping with the same idea of “Best-of-the-Best” we’ve been able to get three of the most revered chefs in the world to bring their creations to our guests. Thomas Keller, Morimoto & Charlie Palmer will all be featured in the Safeway Food & Wine Pavilion and also on the course.
Wine X: Considering how long some of us have waited to taste just one of those guys’ dishes, it’s pretty cool that spectators could enjoy all three on a single day. What are you going to try?
Sanders: From Thomas Keller – the Chicken Sandwich, then Charlie Palmer’s Steak Frites, and then Morimoto’s sushi. Sequence to be determined!
Wine X: I totally get it…….So food, wine… now music?
Sanders: We’ve had great acts join us the past couple of years. Weezer, Goo Goo Dolls , Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews , X Ambassadors. Outdoing the year prior is an annual goal. This year we’ll have Sammy Hagar on Thursday evening, Young The Giant on Friday evening and then Saturday its the Legendary Billy Idol.
Wine X: You mentioned one-upping the prior year as a business objective. But last year was, well, tragic. What do you remember & and how is the event bringing the wildfires into this year’s narrative?
Sanders: I still have very vivid memories of the event’s Sunday evening last year…. Opening the window and realizing what was happening….first the smoke smell and then the orange glow off in the hills. Not long after that we could hear sirens and the rest was just adrenaline and shock. I’ve never seen anything like the scale and scope of generosity and aid that I saw over the next several days. This really is an amazing community. Our sponsors, Safeway and their parent company Albertson, along with Chairman Bob Miller immediately contributed to the relief fund. This year, the commitment is even bigger. 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales from the Safeway Open will go to support Napa Valley fire relief. I’m really proud to be a part of it and am in awe of Safeway & Albertson’s support.
Wine X: Wine, Food & Music….. We got through three of the four…. Now the Golf.
Sanders: We’ve always had a great field and it’s the same this year. 43-Time PGA TOUR winner Phil Mickelson will draw a huge crowd. Of course Brendan Steele will be back as our two time defending Champion as well to see if he can three-peat. Fred Couples is here and is a legend, and Patrick Cantlay & Brandt Snedeker are both playing some really good golf right now and so watch for them too.
Wine X: Tiger had an amazing run at the Tour Championship. I have to believe you wish Tiger was playing here?
Sanders: We are all Tiger fans. His playing schedule is packed and grueling. We’d love to have him here in the future for sure. It’s a great event and I know he’d love it. And you’re right….. I’ve been following him for a very long time and watching him win two weeks ago was really amazing.
Wine X: Greg Norman, Jack, Arnold, Ernie Els…… Wine kinda gets in the blood of golfers, huh? If you had to guess, who from this field is the mostly likely to start their own label?
Sanders: Good question…. There’s probably several but if I had to pick one it would be Phil. I know he very much appreciates fine wines. Final Answer! Phil Mickelson.
Wine X says…… hey look, this is a great event anyway! Go! but if you’re on the fence, knowing that you’re supporting the many people affected by last year’s Napa Wildfires should get you up out of your chair and over to Silverado this week