What started out as a fictional helicopter leasing event from the 2008 movie Step Brothers has evolved into the most entertaining and exciting wine tasting event in Southern California - the "F#$%% Catalina Wine Mixer." These days, people from all over come in droves to Catalina Island - just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California - to enjoy wine, live music, and the beauty of the island. How, though, can you ensure you have the best time possible if this is your first ever Catalina Wine Mixer®? Take a look at our five tips below!
1. Dress comfortably – and bring a change of clothes!
The Catalina Wine Mixer® is held at Descanso Beach Club every year. This Mediterranean-style club will be open on Saturday morning, so bring your bikini and come down to enjoy the waves. Then, once the event truly kicks off, bring something comfortable and fun to change into- you'll thank yourself. There is minimal seating around the lawn where drinks are poured, so make sure you wear something you’ll be happy standing and dancing in as the day turns to night. Bonus points if your outfit includes a Step Brothers reference!
You’ll also want to consider the additional events you’re attending throughout the Catalina Wine Mixer® weekend. Headed to the VIP welcome event on Friday night? Feel free to dress up a little more! This event is shorter and more intimate, so there’s no need to worry about longevity. Headed to the beer or whiskey tastings on Saturday? These events are primarily outdoors, so make sure you grab your sunglasses and SPF. Remember: this event is a marathon, not a sprint!
2. Splurge for the VIP experience
While the Catalina Wine Mixer® is guaranteed to be a good time no matter what tickets you buy, purchasing VIP can really make your experience a fantastic one. On top of the already great perks you get with General Admission- like six hours of live music and two hours of unlimited wine tasting- you'll also get hooked up with an exclusive, air-conditioned VIP lounge with complimentary food, swag bags, and wine flowing all night long. The special VIP reception at Island Spa Catalina on Friday night is just the cherry on top with more free-flowing wine, complimentary appetizers, and live music!
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
2023 is the first year that The Catalina Wine Mixer® is featuring two hours of unlimited wine tastings! That means no counting, no punch cards, no tickets, nothing! Just bring your complimentary souvenir wine glass up to the winery booth and receive your pour- it really will be that simple! While this makes the event even more fun, it also means hydrating is more important than ever. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after the event so that you get back to your hotel or boat safely. It probably wouldn’t hurt to make sure there’re lots of carbs in your lunch, either. Pro tip: there will be concessions available on-site, so keep an eye out during the event for those!
4. Don’t overlook the add-ons
There are many ways you can upgrade your Catalina Wine Mixer® experience! Take part in an elevated wine pairing lunch, a whiskey and spirits tasting overlooking the harbor or a craft beer tasting at Avalon’s brand-new Flx Biergarten, all of which give you the opportunity to check out some of the restaurants around the island and try some new amazing foods and drinks.
The original add-on, however, is the Step Brothers movie screening. This one lets you reacquaint yourself with the movie that started it all and experience the historic Catalina Casino’s theater- which was the very first to be designed for talking motion pictures! Enjoy basking in history while you laugh at Dale and Brennan’s antics.
5. Book your hotel early (or at least set an alarm for the boat)
The best way to experience the Catalina Wine Mixer® is by making it a full weekend event! Book your hotel early, as rooms often sell out for the weekend, so you can spend some time sleeping in and leisurely packing your bags Sunday morning. Don't forget to stop for brunch at Antonio’s before you head out!
Need to leave the island Saturday night? This year, both the Catalina Express in Long Beach and the Catalina Flyer in Newport Beach are offering late boats that will take you back to the mainland after the event. You won’t want to ruin your fun weekend by missing your ferry home, so make sure you set an alarm before the party really gets going. There is nothing more embarrassing than running up to a ferry that’s slowly departing- trust us.