An interesting thing that happens at large wine events: camaraderie grows as wines are consumed, people tend to become chattier and want to share their discoveries of the day. So instead of just keeping track of what I was digging at the Family Winemakers Pasadena tasting, I listened to the buzz coming from Santa Clarita friends, fellow writers and winery representatives. Some of the wines they raved about I did get to try, before palate fatigue set in somewhere about 2 ½ hours into it.
Some of the Buzz
I was told to check out: Blue Rock Vineyard, Collier Falls, Fenestra Winery, Frostwatch Vineyard & Winery, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Herb Lamb Vineyards, Idle Hour Winery, Monticello Vineyards, Oakville Ranch Vineyards, ONX Wines, Pence Vineyards & Winery, Pride Mountain, Ramey Wine Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company and Tablas Creek Vineyard.
What I Dug
That the event was after lunch so we wouldn’t be drinking on an empty stomach.
There was no line outside or at the check in.
Bread, crackers, cheese and the La Belge Chocolatier company giving away awesome free samples.
Now, in the wine* department:
Visiting with Mike Brown, owner of Camarillo’s Cantara Cellars, and enjoying tastes of his Franknvine (Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Old Vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Malbec); Petite Sirah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel.
My favorite winery of the day was Derby Wine Estates. We met owners Ray and Pam Derby over some very awesome Pinot Gris, 2010 ‘FIFTEEN 10’ White Rhône blend and their “IMPLICO” Bordeaux Blend. Derby only uses about 5% of the grapes they grow, the rest is sold to other winemakers.
I stopped briefly at Fenestra Winery and then my husband took me back as I had missed two interesting wines: True Red, a blend of Rhone, Bordeaux, as well as Iberian varietals from multiple years; and a Touriga National/Touriga Franca red wine grapes found in Portugal. Keep your eye on this winery.
The Frank Family Vineyards table was very popular; I enjoyed their new Zinfandel.
Fritz Underground Winery, also just known as Fritz, poured a good Zinfandel.
Loved the Chardonnay from this Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa vineyard: Frostwatch Vineyard & Winery.
I had already tasted Guarachi Family Wines Pinot Noirs early this year so I skipped them at the tasting. As I asked to sample the Cabernet only I noticed the couple next to me also skipped the Pinots. I turned to them and explained why I had only the Cab and told them that they needed to try the Pinots as well, that they were more than good! And the Cab? OMG, I want more.
Fresh from a Halter Ranch component tasting in my home the night before (tasted the four singe varietal Rhônes that go into their red blend, Côtes de Paso) I only tasted the latest Ancestor blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Very well done and ready to drink.
Another new winery for me that I wanted to check out was the Hearst Ranch Winery – and yes, it’s attached to Hearst family. They served up a Malbec that had such amazing floral notes that I was drawn in for a taste. A lighter body than I expected, but yet really interesting. Like to have more time to dissect that one. They also had a Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre Rhone blend (commonly referred to as a GSM blend) that was nice as well.
Herb Lamb Vineyards wowed me, and several others, with their 2011 HL Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
Having just visited J Dusi Wines in their new tasting room on West 46 a couple of weeks ago, I just waved to winemaker Janell Dusi to only say hello. She waved me over to try one more they just put in bottle: the 2011 Syrah blend. Another new wine I liked.
I had a teeny tiny sample of the latest Justification blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot from JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery. It’s a winner as expected!
A wine called Jefferson Cuvee got my attention from the Corley family-run Monticello Vineyards in Napa Valley. The Jefferson Cuvee is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Monticello Vineyards (their second label is their namesake label, Corley).
I loved three reds from Oakville Ranch Vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc and the field blend made up of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.
An Estate Pinot Noir served up by Pence Ranch & Winery was top notch.
I was tickled to bump into my old friend Michael Fraschilla representing Pride Mountain Vineyards! I had always appreciated their Merlots and today I did as well, as well as their Chardonnay. Michael told me that our local Larsen’s Steakhouse would be adding the Chard to their menu soon!
Next up was a Syrah and Claret at Ramey Wine Cellars – both were new to me and I’ll be looking for Ramey from now on at events.
Another new-to-me winery was Rock Wall Wine Company. They had a remarkable Tannat, a Petite Sirah and a red called Obsideana that was a blend of 50% Petite Sirah and 50% Zinfandel.
I had a lovely dinner with Swanson Vineyards winemaker Chris Phelps a few years back so I looked forward to tasting his wines again. His latest Chardonnay and Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon did not disappoint.
I’d always wanted to try the Rhônes made by Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek Vineyard and for some reason hadn’t. My favorites were the Grenache-based Côtes de Tablas, Vermentino and the Grenache-based Patelin de Tablas rosé.
Had two very nice blends, Grenache-Syrah in “Touchy-Feely”, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah in “The Big Game.” As well as an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon “Cardinal” at The Farm Winery.
At Zenaida Cellars I loved their Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and 2C Red, which is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.
*Most of the wines I tried were 2010s.