Wine and Fire – probably one of the best wine tasting events.

Terry and I went with four of our friends, Jim and Pat Hansen and Diane and Allen Eggers, to Lompoc for the Grand Tasting at Wine and Fire in August.  (Here’s some of us there.)

Hansens, Eggers and Kanowskys
Hansens, Eggers and Kanowskys

I’ve never been to Wine and Fire before, so I anticipated the same as at most such events, steadily increasing crowds elbowing their way to the tables of the more “popular” wineries.  Inevitably, they would run out just as I got up to get to my sample.  Or, some self-appointed expert would harangue the winemaker so that no one else could talk to him/her.

On top of that, the days are sometimes blazing, with no shade for relief.  I remember one Paso Robles wine festival about five years ago where it was over 100°.  As the day wore on, the wine got hot.  By about 2:00 in the afternoon with the combination of heat and too much alcohol, several people were passed out or throwing up.  Kinda adversely impacts the wine’s bouquet.

Finally, too often the festival advertises about appetizers and food available.
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  But when you get there, you find it’s a few grapes, some tired cheese, and all the good stuff is gone.

But I’ve come to assume that that’s something you have to pay to the wine gods to be able to sample thousands of dollars worth of great juice.

Wine and Fire went against the grain.
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  The Grand Tasting is set in a heavily shaded area of La Purisima Mission.  It starts at 5:00, so it’s gotten a chance to cool a little.  The organizers set up the tables so you can walk around them and get up close and personal with each winery without depriving other visitors from tasting.

And the food was great and plentiful.  Pulled pork sandwiches, spareribs, tri-tip, lemon and chocolate desserts – a real treat.  The pulled pork sandwiches from Succulent Café in Solvang rivaled what I make at home (which, humbly speaking, are delectable).  The Hitching Post had some macaroni and cheese that you won’t find from Kraft Foods – delicious.

Oh, right, the wine.  Featured were the winemakers interpretations of fruit from the Santa Rita Hills, heavily represented by Pinot Noir.

Some luminaries were there, such as Sea Smoke, Clos Pepe, and Brewer-Clifton.  Their samples were all delicious.  Brian Loring also poured, as did Adam Lee of Siduri (my personal favorite).

Julia Cargasacchi
Julia Cargasacchi

An unexpected highlight was talking with Julia Cargasacchi of, you guessed it, Cargasacchi.  She blushed when I asked her, “So, are you Mrs. Cargasacchi?”  She responded, haltingly, “Well, I used to be.”  Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  She was perky and delightful and an excellent representative of her ex’s wine making efforts.

For all of these reasons I will definitely return to Wine and Fire.