During the drive along an empty 5 freeway on a Saturday afternoon, up to the Frazier Park exit and then a few more miles to watch the terrain change from dry desert like conditions to lush green hills and pine trees, I got to try out all the great cornering my little Mini Cooper can make on the now winding road: Welcome to Wine in the Pines 2018 in the Pine Mountain Club slice of the Los Padres National Forest.
I think this is the third year my husband has graciously given his ticket up to my baby sister “Charlotte” for sisterly bonding time. We’ve always taken full advantage of the hour drive up and back to get very caught up. This year she said it was the best year ever as she was getting a hang of this wine tasting thing…while I visited with friends and tasted just a bit – lots of tossing out – as I’m the designated driver on these trips.
So, enough meandering, let’s get to the heart of the matter, what did we love to taste this year? You can skip my commentary below and just look at these four photo grids if you like, if not, here you go:
Always a good time tasting and visiting with Arndt Cellars, Ascension Cellars, Cass Winery (Ted Plemons is always a favorite at this event, as are his namesake “Ted” wines), Charles Wine (no not a distributor, he makes these wines), Stephen Hemmert Wines (loved that Roussanne), the owners of Vinemark Cellars, Tobin James poured by two sweet wine lovers from Bakersfield, Hoi Polloi and Pagter Brothers (these latter two share the Double Trouble Wine Room in downtown Newhall) towards the front of the event.
We always end our tasting in that section with my friend Yoshi Murakami with JFC International for chilled sake, shochu (he served one aged in spent Jim Beam barrels – my favorite) and shochu-based cocktails! The first year Yoshi poured at the event many people had only experienced warm sake, now that they’ve discovered cold sake, and how refreshing it is on a sunny day in the pines, his table has grown in popularity!
As I made my way up the loop – I knew that organizers Mark and Debbie Bailey always try to put the same winemakers in the same spots so their fans can find them – I knew I would meet up with Sherrijon Gaspard with her refreshing Vina Sympatica sparklers (look for a new line of still wines coming soon) and I never miss time with Michel Ayer of Workman Ayer (my all-time favorite white and red blends).
In the Pine Mountain Club Village Gazebo’s version of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto we enjoyed the live music, watching people dance and wine tastes from Flying Goat (Bubbles and Rose Bubbles), Fiddlehead Cellars, La Montagne (a new Pinot Noir) and Turiya.
Then after rounding the back bend I expectantly looked for Lee and Helen Williams of Golden Star Vineyards in their bright tie-dyed shirts, an ode to their flagship wine “Purple Haze” making new wine friends, and greeting us old wine friends too.
We loved the food that was supplied from the local restaurants like La Lena Mexican Restaurant, as well as yummy plates from our very own Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery.
Would’ve enjoyed the Stella Artois Blood Orange beer our friends had, but I had to skip it, was getting time to get back on my favorite road!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com