2013 was a lot of fun for me in the world of wine, and there is much to look forward to in 2014.
The year was full of events. Two of my favorites were:
Family Winemakers of California did not have their annual trade/media tasting event in Pasadena last year. Instead, they expanded their event in Del Mar, and we made the long drive and had a wonderful time. It was definitely worth the trip but, fortunately, in 2014 they are not only back in Pasadena but have now invited the public to attend as well.
The Rhone Rangers organization represents wineries that produce Rhone varietals, such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Grenache Blanc, among others. Their annual event in Los Angeles is always something I look forward to, and last year’s was no exception.
We attended a couple of events that we had not attended before, and I highly recommend them both:
The Ojai Wine Festival is held on the shore of Lake Casitas. A well organized event at a beautiful venue, with lots of great wineries. And, it‘s not too far of a drive.
Farther away, but well worth the trip to San Luis Obispo, Sunset’s SAVOR The Central Coast is a multi-day, must attend event. An incredible selection of wines and food that is sure to have something to please every palate.
My involvement with Eve’s Wine 101 and Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting enabled me to participate in the marketing and promotion of some successful local events:
A Toast and a WiSH held at the new Newhall Library benefiting the William S. Hart Education Foundation.
Raise Your Glass: Wine Tasting Returns to Cheers @ All Corked Up.
Santa Clarita Wine Festival.
And the Vine 2 Wine Classic benefiting the Circle of Hope.
My year also included continuing to enjoy my own favorite wineries [such as Carlisle, Turley, Robert Biale, J Dusi, Denner, Zeppelin, Cypher, Clavo, Epoch, Tobin James, Scholium Project, Mollydooker, and McPrice Myers, among others], and discovering some new ones as well.
I first tasted the Law Estate wines at the Ojai Wine Festival and was amazed at the quality of this new Paso Robles winery. Visiting the property with general manager Oliver Esparham only confirmed my opinion.
And speaking of being amazed, Golden Star Vineyards generously participated in our Vine 2 Wine Classic. Who would have thought that a winery from the local desert could produce such good wines?
Great people there too, as Lee and Helen Williams are living the dream of producing fine wines their way.
Speaking of great people, how do you decide which wineries you establish a relationship with? I mean, let’s face it; there are thousands of wineries and so many of them produce great wine. You can’t buy them all, even all the ones you really like. So what do you do?
For me, assuming of course I really like the wine, a driving factor in “sealing the deal” is often how I feel about who is making or representing the wines. I really enjoyed meeting and spending time with Oliver Esparham of Law Estate and Helen and Lee Williams of Golden Star, my two big “finds” this year. I also love seeing the success Janell Dusi is having with J Dusi, enjoy my many conversations with Stillman Brown of Zeppelin, and cannot begin to express what a gratifying experience it was when Sparky Marquis of Mollydooker took an hour out of his day at 6:30 AM his time for a phone conversation.
And the social aspect goes beyond the experience with the wineries. It wouldn’t mean much without my wife Karen to share it with. And enjoying the wine trails with good friends like Mike Ortiz and Carey Babcock just make them that much better. Not to mention the person who runs this show – Eve Bushman; this wine journey has been amazing with her and her husband Ed.
Which brings me to the end of the year, and this article, unfortunately on a sad note. Our favorite local wine bar / restaurant, Cheers @ All Corked Up closed its doors at midnight on December 31st. We have a lot of great memories from that place, and made some great friends there, including owners Al Robles and Terri Rivera, and their families. Fortunately, the friendships we made will continue, although it is a good reminder for us all of us that if we find a venue, wine bar, winery, or any other business that we like, then we need to support it.
A new tenant will be in that spot soon and it will be interesting to see what they do with the place. In the meantime, I expect there will be a lot of new wine adventures in 2014.