The twenty-seventh annual Ojai Wine Festival will take place Sunday, June 9, 2013 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm on the scenic shores of Lake Casitas. From its humble beginnings in 1987 the event has grown into a leading regional event attracting nearly 5000 people from throughout the Central Coast and Southern California. The annual event is a major fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Ojai West Foundation; a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps fund many humanitarian and community projects, including the environmental science based educational Lake Casitas Boat Tours for public schools.
“You can’t beat the combination of fantastic wine, beer, food, live music, dancing and fun in such a beautiful shady setting on the shores of Lake Casitas,” boasted Robert Long, President of the Rotary Club of Ojai-West.
Select from ten of Ojai’s best restaurants to buy a delicious meal. Guests may dine and drink wine on tables throughout the site or picnic on a grassy knoll overlooking the stage and Lake Casitas. Not a wine lover? Beer lovers can enjoy tasting a great selection of over 20 domestic and imported beers. Purchase a V.I.P. ticket for the exclusive V.I.P. Lounge to enjoy early 11:30 am entry, fine wines by the glass or three craft Belgian beers by the glass sponsored by Anheuser-Busch: Stella Artois, Hoegaarden or Leffe with free hors d’oeuvres served by Sakura Ojai Japanese Restaurant and La Piu Bella Tavola Italian Catering & Cabot Cheese in a lovely shaded setting by the lakefront. VIP patrons can sample a glass of wine from Silver Wines, Bianchi Winery, Law Estate Wines, Huge Bear Wines or Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. Full ticket price information is available at the festival’s website – http://www.ojaiwinefestival.com.
“Last year had over 60 wineries who poured over 250 diverse wines,” states Wine Festival Executive Director, Angela May. “Our selection of wineries is looking impressive for this year. Tickets are limited and we advise buying tickets online now. Photos, maps, and information from last year’s event can be found at the Festival’s website.”
Visitors can look forward to listening, dancing, and singing along to the music of Beatles tribute band, Sgt. Pepper, plus Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries, a 1950’s – 1960’s rock and roll show band. The festival will also feature an assortment of arts and crafts vendors selling their wares. Small children can play in the park’s play area and free boat rides on Lake Casitas will again be available to all attendees. More than 100 volunteers guarantee a well run and safe festival.
27th Annual Ojai Wine Festival
Wine & beer tasting, food, craft vendors, silent auction and entertainment by the lakeside.
June 9, 2013 at Lake Casitas Recreational Area Event Site
12 to 4 PM
Tickets online at www.ojaiwinefestival.com or starting in April at Ojai’s Attitude Adjustment Shoppe or Reid’s Appliances of Ventura and Santa Barbara
Advance tickets receive deep discounts and there is a limited number of VIP and General Admission available.
The 8th Annual LAWineFest will prove to be the biggest in its history, showcasing hundreds of award-winning wines from 13 countries, craft brews and artisan cocktails; plus interactive cooking demos with premier LA chefs, entertaining tasting seminars, Twitter-ific food trucks, live music and fab boutiques add to the exciting experience.
Saturday, June 8 – 2:45pm: Discovering Spain’s Rioja; $15 | 3:45pm: Artisinal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventures with Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario; $35 (a sell-out every year) | 4:45pm: Walking in Their Shoes: a panel discussion with California winemakers and winery owners, $15.
Sunday, June 9 – 1pm: Wine & Cheese – A Good Combo? Hosted by Terry & Wally August of Fancifull Fine Food & Baskets, $35 | 2pm: Discovering Spain’s Rioja, $15 | 3pm: Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventures, $35 (a sell-out every year)
Celebrity Chefs Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose and Chang Sivilay of the Mandarin Hotel West Hollywood and Asia de Cuba will be presenting interactive cooking demos on the Wolf Range, one of the event’s premiere sponsors.
Stella Artois Beer Garden presented by 2013 event sponsor Stella Artois, will offer several brew varieties on tap for all guests to enjoy.
Food Trucks & Restaurants include Lobsta Truck, Heirloom, Tainamite, Green Truck, Slammin’ Sliders, Hot’s Kitchen, The Surfer Taco, Sweet Arleen’s Cupcake & Bread Puddings. Plates start at $2; not included in event ticket price.
VIP Tickets are available on Saturday, June 8 only; $30 upgrade includes early admission at 1pm, access to the VIP Garden featuring exclusive tastings and a VIP gift bag. Guests can purchase VIP tickets here: http://lawinefest2013.eventbrite.com/.
K&L Wines in Hollywood and Mel & Rose in West Hollywood will be on-site to take orders and make wines available for in-store pickup or home delivery.
8th Annual LAWineFest
Saturday, June 8, 2-6 p.m. and Sunday, June 9, 12-5 p.m.
Hollywood’s Historic Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave. LA, CA 90038
$85/single; $150/couple; $20 designated driver
Visit www.LAWineFest.com for special advanced pricing and to purchase tickets
Street parking (metered on Saturday) and paid parking available at Paramount Studios lots on Bronson and Van Ness.
For more information, visit www.LAWineFest.com.
Founded in 2005 by renowned wine personality Dr. Joel M. Fisher, LAWineFest is L.A.’s largest and longest-running wine-tasting event, with the goal of making wine fun and accessible for Angelenos while supporting a local charitable organization each year.
About Food Forward
Food Forward’s mission is to bring together volunteers and neighbors to share in the harvesting and recovery of locally grown produce from private homes, public spaces and farmers markets, 100% of which is then distributed at no cost to agencies serving our community’s most vulnerable.
Saturday, 20/04/2013, Solvang, California. Just another day we spoiled Southern Californians have come to expect. Moderate temps, just a whisper of a breeze, and cloudless sky set the stage for the Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival. 80+ wineries pouring high scoring reds and whites, restaurants serving some delectable treats, and an outstanding chocolatier. It’s simply not fair – no place else can compare.
Terry (my trusty photographer) and I joined our good friends, Diane and Allen Eggers, at the festivities. This year (for the first time in quite a while) the event was held at Mission Santa Ines. This is an excellent opportunity for the low cost of $75 to meet and greet with the winemakers, sample their wines, and overall select a few favorites for later enjoyment. In four short hours you can determine whether the folks in Santa Ynez can really do Rhone and Burgundy varietals justice.
We stopped at over twenty booths. Most of the wines were very good, with some truly outstanding.
Our first visit was at our perennial favorite, Jaffurs. Craig was there, serving his 2010 Thompson Syrah (probably my favorite Syrah of the day), High Tide (a unique blend that changes from year to year of Mouvedre, Grenache, and Syrah), and a refreshing 2012 Viognier. We first visited Jaffurs about ten years ago and return at least three times every year. Besides making remarkable Rhone wines, Craig also has good community spirit. In 2010, Jaffurs and Zaca Mesa (another consistent high quality producer) jointly hosted a tasting to benefit the Santa Clarita Boys & Girls Club and raised almost $20,000 in the process.
Next up was Foxen, where we visited with co-owner, Jenny Williamson Dore. There we had two surprises that went against the grain of what you expect from a Santa Barbara winery. (Of course their Pinots were delicious.) The first was a tremendous Chenin Blanc. Dry and refreshing, it’s an excellent value at a suggested retail of $25. When I think of Chenin Blanc, I picture the Loire Valley or South Africa, not California, but Foxen does an admirable job with their effort. The other surprise was their Cabernet Sauvignon from Happy Canyon. It had
great structure, tasting of cherries and plums. A revelation of what Santa Ynez can produce.
Foxen was followed by Brewer-Clifton, one of the finest Chardonnay houses around. We were so impressed that we made a point of stopping in Lompoc the next day to taste their full line. I figured it was going to be great – Allen and I had bought a mixed case of their 2005 Chardonnays. We only open them on special occasions, but the problem is that special occasions seem to be happening with alarming frequency. We had a chance to talk with Steve Clifton (and also sample his Palmina line of Italian varietals). He’s agreed to a more in-depth discussion which will be the subject of a future column.
A few other notes. Rusack’s Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot (called Anacapa) was amazing. It had a very long finish with overtones of pepper. We didn’t get to it until after two hours of back-breaking tasting. The fact that it stood out after that much wine is testament to its quality.
A non-wine taste treat were the chocolates from Staffords Chocolates. Call them a week before visiting and they’ll even give you a tour. Their English Toffee was gone within ten minutes of setting it down – that’s how delicious it was.
Overall, the Vintners Festival was most enjoyable. If you missed it (or even if you went), you should try to make the Celebration of Harvest in October.
Day two of the Cab Collective began with a seminar and tasting moderated by Steve Heimoff, the West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Panelists included Gary Eberle, owner/enologist, Eberle Winery; Scott Shirley, winemaker, Justin; Kevin Willenborg, winemaker, Vina Robles; Steve Peck, winemaker, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines; David Galzignato, winemaker, Jada Vineyard & Winery; Daniel Daou, owner/winemaker, Daou Vineyards & Winery.
Eberle: The first time he saw Paso was in 1972, working on doctorate at Davis. He made three soil-sampling trips, returning his samples back to Davis. The potential, of cold nights and poor soils, was something the Europeans had taken advantage of and he was anxious to do the same in Paso.
Eberle planted 700 acres in five years, selling half of their production to Napa wineries. “I never had an honest job; learning and making wine is all I’ve ever done” Eberle said. Eberle thinks Cabernet is their best grape, they do remarkably well with it and they age well. His own cellar has wines from 70s and 80s.
The region, Eberle commented, now has professionals and not just home winemakers, making it harder to keep up with competition.
As far as vintage variations, 1979 was the coldest year and the grapes were picked until 12/7. The hottest vintage year was picked in August. Odd number years seems to be the best, 91 he thinks was his best year.
Scott Shirley: “I’m a newcomer to Paso and 2012 is my first vineyard. And Justin has 30 years farming in Paso.”
According to Shirley, “you need great soils, great climate and great people” to make world class wines in Paso. The Isoceles is their left bank Bordeaux blend, and the Justification is a right bank blend. He’s looking for tannins, fruit and acidity – a perfect harmony of those three elements. Don’t analyze your wine, Shirley said, he just wants people to want another glass. Paying attention to wine itself “while in barrel” will bring Paso into the future and Shirley does extensive cooper trials with each barrel.
Shirley believes you can make a better wine with blending from different lots, different grapes, making a masterpiece that isn’t disjointed. Make a wine “enjoyable on release, and still enjoyable after laying down.”
Justin 09 Isoceles: Meaty, browner color, tannic, great fruit, dark cherries and plums, dark chocolate. I could drink this now. First favorite.
Kevin Willenborg: “This is my 30th harvest,” began Willenborg. “I just moved from Napa recently. (I know that three of us in this panel just moved from Napa, and that’s enough of us that believe in Paso Robles as a wine region.) Paso has three things: 1. High temperature variance, with warm day cold nights. 2. Soil. and 3. Rich bold fruit.”
While in Switzerland the family heard of Paso and the adventurous nature of the region. Vina Robles started in mid 90s highly focused on estate Cabs.
09 Mountain Road Reserve Cab: black pepper, vegetal, palate drying, strawberry to plum fruits, chewy, gravel. Ninety-eight percent Cabernet, 2 percent Petit Verdot. My second favorite.
Steve Peck: The perception (of what the area has to offer) has changed according to Peck. Rain is common (half what they get in Napa) and water-holding capacity is low. However, you want to buy Bordeaux from dry vintages, those are the best, so that’s why the weather works in Paso. Irrigation to bring moisture up helps as well.
(We dined with Peck and Heimoff the night before, more on Peck can be found on this site from last Friday’s story: Cab Collective Part One.)
10 Hilltop Cab: Milk chocolate, cut black cherries, balanced. One percent Syrah, 50 percent new French oak, fruit forward per Steve.
David Galzignato: “We’re a small, 4,000 case winery, so thank you for inviting us.” Galzignato began. Owner, Jack Messina, wanted Bordeaux, so they planted 60-70 percent Bordeaux and 30 percent Syrah. “Jack is competitive and wanted great wines like his neighbors.”
Galzignato came on in 2011 as first full time winemaker. Now, with “dedicated” full time “people and the money to support” that, it has helped with the quality. Galzignato believes that Paso has potential to be the best appellation in California. He’s worked in Napa, and thinks he was brought in to elevate the Bordeaux varieties. They pay enormous attention to detail, picking at night, like the other good producers, they use smaller bins so less juicing in boxes and it’s all estate vines on all 20 acres.
’10 Passing By: Red licorice, mint, juicy dark peppery fruit, balanced, good to drink now. My third favorite. 80 percent Cabernet and 20 percent Merlot.
Daniel Daou: As Daou tells it, while having dinner with Eberle, drinking an 80’s vintage, it was an amazing testament to great terroir and winemaking. We drank each other’s wine. Eberle asked, “Paso is larger than Napa – so why limit which wines to make?”
Daou said that due to the calcareous soil and minerality they never add acid to wine as there is natural acidity in Paso. This is Daou’s twelfth year making Cabernet. Originally known for value wine with more clusters and high yields to make bottles for less than $15, now they are producing less fruit, (had to convince growers to drop fruit) to make better wines. Daou said that there is now a market as consumers will pay $50 for the better wine.
Their climate is warmer at night, and the soils are all calcareous, so they get the stress they are looking for according to Daou. More rain goes into the ground to replenish cover crop and canopy and with the cover crop green due to precipitation, they’re not watering until August. Then Daou waits for the “skin to turn into velvet to reach perfect ripeness” to harvest.
’10 Estate Cabernet: nose tingling, tannic, dark fruits, nicely balanced, dry long finish.
The total participant list *included ADELAIDA Cellars, B & E Vineyard, Chateau Margene, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, HammerSky Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jada Vineyard, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, L’Aventure, Niner Wine Estates, Parrish Family Vineyards, Rangeland Wines, Record Family Wines, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Still Waters Vineyards, Venteux Vineyards, Vina Robles, Wild Horse Winery. The press event was limited to 16 wineries, which was more than enough.
(*After the seminar I sampled what I could before palate fatigue set in. I have bolded the wineries above that I was able to visit. Many poured four or more selections, and even though the total number of wineries may have been small this first year, trust me, tasting wines as old as 2003 was not to be taken for granted. I so wished I could have done more!)
Paso Robles CAB Collective
Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC), strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles AVA in producing superior quality, age-worthy, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and Bordeaux varietal to consumers and media worldwide.
The Paso Robles CAB Collective has set out to confirm that the appellation’s unique attributes provide the perfect condition to produce luscious, well-rounded red Bordeaux wines that can compete with like varietals on a global stage.
Founding members of the PRCC include: Daou Vineyards and Winery, ADELAIDA Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, Vina Robles, Chateau Margene and Eberle Winery.
Last week, I wrote about our trip to the Family Winemakers Event in Del Mar, but left you with a cliffhanger as to the wineries that made the biggest impressions on me. As I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat to know, here they are…
ANCIENT PEAKS WINERY
Based in Santa Margarita, winemaker Mike Sinor continues to craft well made wines at both the value and higher ends from the southern part of Paso Robles. The “Renegade” red blend was delicious.
BACIO DIVINO CELLARS
This Rutherford winery has a stellar reputation for fine wines. Not surprisingly, as their winemaker is Kirk Venge. My favorite was their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon (with a touch of Sangiovese).
One of several Paso Robles wineries at the event, this is a fairly new one on the East side of Paso. The Syrah stood out for me.
C.G. DI ARIE VINEYARDS & WINERY
The Sierra Foothills are known for Zins, Syrahs, and the like. Also, my favorite California region for Barbera, and this winery delivered nicely on all of them.
CA’ MOMI WINES
Well-priced and tasty wines from Napa. The ghost story was fun too.
Mike and Chris Brown are leading the way in showing why a trip to Ventura can be as much fun as a trip to any other wine region, and a lot closer.
Mike Officer’s amazing wines sell out every year, mostly to those of us on his mailing list. Yet he continues to support those who supported him early on, and that includes Family Winemakers.
Another excellent producer from Paso Robles, Neil Roberts is great at showing what can be done to emphasize the local fruit without going over the top. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Neil manages a couple dozen or so of the vineyards in the area, so he has a pretty good idea of which fruit to use.
Often overlooked with all of the new players in Paso Robles, Eberle continues to produce excellent wines under current winemaker Ben Mayo. And those of us who love Syrah should give a big thank-you to Gary Eberle, because without him the story of California Syrah would likely have been a lot different, but that’s a tale for another day.
Phil Staehle makes his wines in Sonoma in a style I prefer – it’s all about the fruit. Really loved the Petite Sirah, Syrah, and the red Rhone blend called Humbaba. If you don’t know who Enkidu is, check out the website or read the Gilgamesh epic.
Another new to me Paso Robles winery, winemaker Andrew Jones works in his day job at a vine nursery, and has access to small lots of quality fruit. It shows!
We visited Galante in the Carmel Valley several years ago, and they really made a positive impression. That feeling hasn’t changed – the Petite Sirah was especially tasty.
Jeff Cohn has been making his great wines in Oakland [!] since 1996. Wonderful Rhones and Zins.
LINE SHACK WINERY, LIDO BAY WINERY, THE 411 WINE COMPANY
With three labels enabling them to cover a lot of price points, the Ballentine family does a great job producing wines sourced primarily from the San Antonio Valley AVA, which is in Monterey County [but really Northern Paso].
PAT PAULSEN VINEYARDS
Pat Paulsen Vineyards [yes, that Pat Paulsen] is back! After being closed for 20 years, Pat’s son Monty took his UC Davis education and brought the winery back. It is in very good hands.
ROCK WALL WINE COMPANY
Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum continues the family tradition started by her father Kent. Excellent well made wines, I’m a big fan of their Zinfandel.
THE FARM WINERY
Another Paso Robles winery, this one was recently featured in Wine Spectator as one to watch. Founded by two couples, these long-time friends are making some great wines. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of the friends is renowned Argentinean winemaker Santiago Achaval.
All Zin, all the time. Making great Zins and Zinfandel-based blends is all Bruce Patch does, and he does it very well.
The above are just a fraction of the wines available to taste, making this event well worth the trip. Not all great wine experiences happen in Wine Country. But please remember that tasting and then dumping the rest of your glass (and even spitting), as well as noshing and drinking lots of water, is recommended whenever you go wine tasting to be able to get the most enjoyment and taste as many wines as possible.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who puts up with him. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting tasting rooms and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, Michael had the amazing good fortune to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. At the same time, in his day job he provides outsourced controller services to companies that do not need a full-time controller. One day, he hopes to be able to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/)
The city of Stuttgart is unusual for a German city. The country’s sixth-largest city spreads across rolling hills, valleys, parks, and of course, vineyards. Long time friend and fellow sommelier, Liesel Braun and I have returned to this wonderful city after spending a few days traveling along the banks of the Mosel River, exploring the wines of Rhinegau and Rheinhessen. This is a panoramic land of rolling hills and castle crowned vineyards whose viticultural history dates back to the time of the Romans.
Liesel and I are at one of the city’s most popular cafe/pubs, Cape Tormentoso. The basement bar has a flair all its own and quite popular with the local hipsters. The drink menu is one of the best in Stuttgart and the wine selection is equally as encompassing.
“Let’s not forget the food,” Liesel was quick to add. “Cape Tormontoso also serves some very delicious food.”
German wine can be a bit of a challenge to pair with the heavy and hearty local dishes that the country is renown throughout the world. Whenever German wines are raised in the conversation, Riesling is always the first choice. Keep in mind that not all Rieslings are sweet. Good bottles of the noble vino are labeled “trocken,” which means dry. However, today, Liesel and I will be tasting some wonderful German wines that are lesser known, but readily available in the States.
Rheinhessen is the largest of Germany’s regions producing quality wines such as Riesling, Mueller-Thurgau, Silvaner, and Liebfraumilch. It is also the home of my favorite German Riesling, Dreissigacker.
Our Dressigacker Riesling Trocken 2010 is a wonderful wine that can be enjoyed with or without food. It is a refreshing wine, and one of my favorite daily drinkers. Dreissigacker is a pale lemon in color with hues of green. The bouquet is rich in ripe green apples, plums, and a hint of lime peel. On the palate, this Riesling is fruity, elegant and well-balanced. The finish is long and pleasurable, making you crave more.
“When you first introduced me to this wine I was quite pleased,” Liesel smiled fondly. “It is also nice to see a young vintner like Jochen Dreissigacker find success so early in his career.”
“Jochen was very instrumental in helping Chris Terrell and I popularize his Riesling throughout California.”
“I like the off dryness to this Riesling,” Liesel paused to collect her thoughts. “I would serve it with salads, shellfish, and fish.
Our Dreissigacher Riesling Tronchen 2010 is only 12% alcohol and with a price tag of $20.
These days, there are a lot of great wines being produced in Germany. At one point, the German winemakers stood at the pinnacle and rivaled the French. After a series of setbacks, Germany is one again producing premium world class wines. Among some of the most interesting are those labeled “Spatlese.” The literal meaning is “late harvest.” Spatlese wines are on the sweet side, yet not to the point of being considered a dessert wine. Due to its lower alcohol content, Spatlese wines work well early in the meal.
Our next selection was a Selbach-Oster Wehlner Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2006. It is a pale yellow in color, edging on gold. The nose is somewhat intense, displaying notes of lemon, apple, and honey. On the palate it is off-dry to medium, with high acidity and medium body. It is balanced nicely with flavors of honey, lemon, and apple. The subtle mineral quality on the end palate brings the wine to a very nice finish.
“I especially liked the wine’s acidity,” Liesel concluded. “It was quite zesty and refreshing. This wine could be paired with a wide variety of foods.”
“This is a great wine to sip and enjoy on its own,” I nodded in approval. “A very good buy at $25.
Our Gutzler Blanc de Noir White Pressed Pinot Noir 2007 is not a Riesling. It is made from the juice of from red pinot noir grapes that have been pressed out and fermented without skins. It is a pale yellow in color with a light greenish tinge. The bouquet is earthy with lovely herbal hints. It is a clean and light dry wine that offers flavors of peach and apricot, along with strong mineral notes and a good finish. This is a great wine to enjoy on its own or as an aperitif. The alcohol content is 13% and a price tag of $25.
“Gutzler can be enjoyed with a wide range of seafood,” Liesel flashed me a smile. “I often enjoy it with sushi.”
The Franconia region is known for its white wines. Gruner Silvaner is Germany’s most underestimated grape varietal. Nevertheless, it is quite popular with the locals. This lovely wine has a floral bouquet with hints of apricot and peach.The mouthfeel is very soft and very drinkable. Perhaps even too drinkable. Every time I visit Germany, I find myself drinking more Silvaner than the other popular German varietals. Silvaner is always dry. There are two broad styles to Silvaner. The lighter and crisp style tastes of fresh green apples. While the Kabinett-style of riper grapes is richer, creamier, and on the earthy side. On a completely different note, it is easy to spot this wine by the unusual bottle shape. Known as a bochsbeutal, its shape is flat, round, and quite distinctive.
Our Weingut J. Storrlein & Krenig 2008 showed a richness of yellow apples and a most enjoyable and deep mineral quality.
“I especially like that Storrlein is consistently good among Franken producers,” Liesel nodded in approval.
“I especially enjoy how the Kabinett-style wines have fully ripened,” I paused to enjoy my Silvaner.
“The grapes are typically harvested in September,” Liesel added.
“Since Kabinett is medium dry, I would pair it with lamb, poultry and veal,” she paused to collect her thoughts. “I would also serve it with ragout, fish, and salads.”
Our 2008 Weingut J. Storrlein & Krenig has an alcohol content of 13.5% with a price tag of $25.
“The evening is still young,” Liesel remarked flatly. “Let’s go for a walk and then a cup of Rudesheimer Kaffee.”
“But that my friends, is another story …”
Josiah Citrin’s Famed Mélisse in Santa Monica Named one of 28 Five-Star International Restaurants; Only Los Angeles Restaurant to Receive Recognition
Mélisse, the celebrated restaurant of Chef Josiah Citrin, has just added another prestigious award to its accolades. Since Mélisse first opened its doors in 1999, Citrin and his restaurant have been a tour de force in the world of fine dining and a fixture in California’s culinary landscape. And Tuesday, the Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 55th annual listing of Star Award-winning hospitality establishments worldwide, naming Mélisse among this influential list. Mélisse will be showcased with all of the 2013 award winners on Startle.com, the online home of Forbes Travel Guide.
Mélisse is the latest installment to the travel ratings system by Forbes Travel Guide, the gold standard in the industry since 1958. Citrin’s one of only 28 restaurants nationally to receive five stars, one of four restaurants in California and is the only restaurant in Los Angeles to merit the highest rating, putting Mélisse on par with French Laundry, Per Se, Joêl Robuchon, Daniel, Jean George and Eleven Madison Park, among other fine dining destinations.
“This has been what we have been striving for from the beginning,” said Citrin. “Our goal is to create a memorable experience that’s going to last forever with every guest.”
Mélisse is known as much for its refined setting as it is its artistic, flawless cuisine and exceptional service. Citrin passionately frequents the local Farmers’ Market and manages to coax unexpected flavors from his carefully chosen ingredients. They are presented as edible works of art. Citrin’s In Pursuit of Excellence showcases what has kept both the chef and Mélisse at the top of the culinary game. Mélisse, located in Santa Monica, has become a leading restaurant for fine dining in greater Los Angeles, promising a memorable experience in the artful presentation of Citrin’s dishes served in a setting of supreme elegance with the highest standards of service.
“The Forbes Travel Guide annual Star Awards represent the best in class in luxury hospitality. Travelers seeking exceptional experiences rely on our ratings to guide them to the world’s finest hotels, restaurants and spas,” said Michael Cascone, President and COO of Forbes Travel Guide. “By continuing to evolve our ratings categories, we are establishing a global benchmark for the highest standards in hospitality service and facilities.”
For a detailed explanation of how Forbes Travel Guide compiles its Star ratings, visit www.startle.com/about/ratings
To view the complete list of 2013 Forbes Travel Guide Star Award winners, visit www.startle.com/forbes-travel-guide-star-award-winners/2013-star-award-winners
About Forbes Travel Guide and Startle.com
Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil Travel Guide and originator of the prestigious Five Star ratings and certifications, has provided the travel industry’s most comprehensive ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas since 1958. Forbes Travel Guide has a team of expert inspectors who anonymously evaluate properties against rigorous and objective standards, providing consumers the insight to make better-informed travel and leisure decisions. The information gathered from the inspectors’ visits can be found along with content by curated hospitality experts, tastemakers, Forbes Travel Guide editors and correspondents at Startle.com, online home of Forbes Travel Guide.
For more information contact
1104 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 8th, for the annual Pine Mountain Club Wine in the Pines, in Pine Mountain Village Center. For four hours, from 12 noon to 4 pm, you’ll be able to taste exciting wines from California’s fabled Central Coast, with dozens of premiere wineries to choose from. If wine isn’t on your favorite list, Stella Artois will be available in a signature glass. And then there’s the food: some of Kern County’s favorite restaurants will be on hand serving everything from classic European finger-food to good-ole western barbeque.
There’s nothing like pine-scented air and the shade of tall pines to compliment the taste of good wine and equally good food, unless it’s live music—loud enough to set the mood, but smooth enough not to ruin it. Wine-themed art will also be on display to round out the afternoon.
You must be 21 or older to purchase tickets for Wine in the Pines. Admission to the wine festival is $45 in advance and $60 at the door. This event could sell out, so buy your tickets early. Admission includes wine & beer tasting from noon to 4pm, a logo glass, and fabulous food.
Tickets for Wine in the Pines can be purchased online at the event website: www.wineinthepines.com, at the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association business office at 2524 Beechwood Way, at Pine Mountain Auto Center, at various merchants in Pine Mountain Village Center, and at the Wine in the Pines ticket booth at the Lilac Festival, May 18 and 19.
Wine in the Pines is presented by the Pine Mountain Club Commercial Property Owners Association, Inc., and is sponsored by 3-Way Chevrolet-Cadillac, Tejon Ranch, and Tejon Mountain Village. Pine Mountain Club is located just 20 minutes west of Interstate 5 at the Frazier Park exit. For a map and directions, hotel & cabin rental links and other information, go to www.wineinthepines.com , or email email@example.com , or call (661) 242-1996.
For a long time I have been asked by the GOTN group to do a road trip for one of our monthly adventures. Recently, Gary Stewart (owner/vintner) of Four Brix Winery, offered us an opportunity to come to their tasting room and sample as well as educate us on the art of winemaking. Gary and his wife Karen are no strangers to GOTN as they attend whenever possible, schedules permitting. The day/night was informal with education intermixed with tasting wines that were recently released by Four Brix.
Gary was educated in the best ways possible when it comes to wine making and operating a successful winery. He was mentored in wine making which he reinforced by taking online courses from UC Davis, which has one of the best wine education curriculum in the country. It shows, Four Brix produces really good wine that is the result of trial and error as well as experience over the years. When Gary started out in his garage with another couple they bought inexpensive grapes at about $200/ton, which is very cheap as tons go. However, being new and not knowing they had the idea that the end product was in the process and not the grapes that makes the wine. After some input from successful wineries on wine quality based on grape quality/price he learned a new philosophy, GOOD GRAPES=GOOD WINE. He went back to his friends and said they had to buy better grapes to get better wine and next time spent $1000/ton. The difference was significantly noticeable. Today, he searches out the best grapes available for his wines.
Later in his career, Gary met Ryan Horn from Justin Winery in Paso Robles who became his mentor. In 2007 Gary began importing equipment from France and Portugal. Gary worked with Ryan and together made many trips to Italy and Spain thus continuing his knowledge and skills in the old world wine making processes. It is because of these travels and experiences that led to the name Four Brix. Gary explained that “the winery name Four Brix pays tribute to the four wine regions we have traveled to and experienced the beauty, culture, and manner in which blended wine fits into everyday life: France, Italy, Spain and our home, California.” Brix refers to the amount of sugar in the grape juice.
In talking to Gary about his path to where he is today, one realizes quickly that his passion is to share and watch people enjoy what wine is all about. To me it is not difficult to refer to wine lovers as a cult. To verify this statement go to a gathering or wine bar and see how people review and strive to understand the artistry that the vintner put into the bottle for us to enjoy. We are not talking about people that are drinking for effect but the ones that are dissecting the wine to see it change over time as oxygen infiltrates the glass and the fruits and spices that come to one’s nose via the aromatics. This is then followed by the taste on the palate where the flavors explode (California wines) or lay subtle in layers of complexity (French and Italian wines). This is how I see Gary’s view and passion for wines.
What is very interesting is that ALL of their wines to date are blends, however, Gary told me that there will be some single varietals available for club members in the future. I had an opportunity to barrel sample their Tempranillo, Sangiovesse and Petite Sirah. I asked Gary if he could bottle me a case of the Tempranillo and I would take it home, unfortunately for me I will have to wait just like everyone else. It was spectacular. The Sangiovese was right there with the Tempranillo. The Petite Sirah is being its normal self and still needs time. I will hopefully get a chance to revisit it in the future. Listed below is the list of wines that we tasted during our visit:
- 2011 Smitten – Viognier from Camp 4 Vineyard in Santa Ynez. Beautiful Green apples and grass that you expect from this style. Crisp and exciting.
- Grenache Blanc – Pulled from a barrel. The barrels used were purchased from Silver Oak Winery and are American. These barrels imparted a buttery and creamy profile to the wine. This was very evident in this wine. Very good.
- 2009 Temptress – 44% Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Grenache and Graciano.
- 2010 Rhondezvous – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise.
- 2010 Scosso – 64% Sangiovesse and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. This wine was given 89 points by Wine Spectator. Excellent wine.
- 2010 Zeductive – 89% Zinfandel and 11% Petite Sirah
The day was interesting with group questions ranging from general to technical. I was extremely happy by some of the technical questions about various strains of yeast as well as their alcohol tolerance. I never expected these types of questions from the group. Maybe I am rubbing off on them as they are really looking at the details of what goes into producing fine wines and how much difficulty there is to being consistent and repeatable.
I also want to add a quick note about another Ventura Trail Winery that Gary recommended that I visit. It is called Plan B and has only been open since October 2012. It is owned by Marlow and Janis Barger. They had five wines open for tasting, a 2010 Mourvedre, 2010 Grenache, 2010 GSM, 2010 Shiraz and a 2010 Syrah. My two favorites were the Mourvedre and the Grenache. Typically you see these wines in blends, if not blended they can be touch and go if they are enjoyable as a single varietal. These two wines from Plan B were light and very good. Though lacking in a long finish, they made up for in a nice clean enjoyable sipping wine. The Mourvedre was my favorite as well as Tracy’s, her brother Mitch and his new wife Jan. It was especially fun for Mitch and Jan as Plan B was their first wine tasting ever.
To sum up the experience, everyone needs to try the wineries on the Ventura Wine Trail. It is quite evident that they are on track to becoming recognized wineries. Four Brix has already done this by gaining recognition from Wine Spectator, 89 points for their 2010 Scosso. They also have a large group of dedicated followers. I hope that this article entices you to try these wineries, they are definitely worth the trip. They also make you feel like a family member and good friend as soon as you walk in. I know Gary has always made me feel that way and he is all about making and educating people on wines in hopes that they find and share his passion. Four Brix is about blends at the moment, but they live up to their motto, “Not just another brix in the wall.” They want to explore and push the limits of wine making and production through creative blending practices. Visit them, you will not be disappointed and tell them Rusty sent you.