When we moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1992, we had already gotten pretty interested in wine, having started several years earlier visiting some of the better known California wine regions. Even when we lived in Texas in the mid-80s, we managed to keep our wine passion alive with frequent visits to California, along with meeting a wine broker in San Antonio who kept us engaged with private tasting of European wines, and even a visit to the wineries of the Texas Hill Country [don’t ask].
So we were ecstatic to learn of the big annual event in Santa Clarita – the Santa Clarita Valley Wine Classic held at California Institute of the Arts. And it didn’t hurt that it was literally right down the street from our home in Stevenson Ranch.
Although we didn’t attend every year, I wish we would have, because every time we went we had a great time, sampling wines from donor wineries as well as those from the cellars of generous Santa Claritans.
In fact, as I recently mentioned, my first article for Eve’s Wine 101 was reporting on the event in 2009, the same event that local wine aficionado Steve Elzer gave me my first taste of Scholium Project.
Alas, that was the final year of the Classic, until 2013, when Circle of Hope brought its annual event to Cal Arts and with the efforts of so many people, most notably Jeff Jacobson who was primarily responsible for bringing in the wine, the old days of the Classic were not only recreated, but just possibly surpassed.
With wines poured from over 50 wineries, along with wines donated by the amazing and generous wine connoisseurs of our community, the selection of wines available to taste was amazing. Combined with the participation of several local restaurants, the addition of the Moe Hafizi Beer Garden, and stellar entertainment, I dare say perfection was pretty much achieved.
Some of the highlights for me were…
Vines on the Marycrest – Victor Abascal was pouring his great wines from Paso Robles. Their My Generation blend is always one of my favorites.
Gagnon Cellars – Gil and Rae Gagnon are becoming fixtures on the Santa Clarita wine event scene, and I am admittedly proud that I initially reached out to them for the Pour Into Sandy event last year. They are making some pretty stylish wines – their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite that evening.
Stanger Vineyards – general manager JP French is a great crowd pleaser, as are the Stanger wines.
Sculpterra Winery – with all of our visits to Paso Robles, we have not made it to Sculpterra. Fortunately, they came to us. Great Viognier, and their Primitivo was delicious as well.
A real surprise to me was Golden Star Vineyards. I like to think I am not a wine snob, but when I saw they were right up Highway 14 in Littlerock, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Well, I was pleasantly, really pleasantly, surprised. The wines were all very well made. I really liked the Purple Haze blend and the Paso Robles Zinfandel. But my favorite was their Syrah from Antelope Valley.
And I’d like to give a big “thank you” to the generous residents of the Santa Clarita Valley, not just those who attended, but especially those who opened up their cellars and poured some of their treasures. It was great to taste the rose that Jeannie and Chris Carpenter were pouring from their own local Compa vineyard. And once again, Steve and Amy Elzer came through with amazing wines from their cellar – my favorite this time was a 1986 [I think] Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon that may make me rethink how I view Cabs.
Can’t wait until next year.