Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wine Fest Los Olivos

Inaugural Wine Fest Los Olivos

If there's one town in the Santa Ynez Valley 
that should have its own wine festival, it's Los Olivos!

I’ve been covering wine festivals and related tasting events for several years now and the season always gets very busy from May through July. We’re all in luck now though, because a brand new wine festival has shown up much earlier in the year so we can pace ourselves. And this time of year in Los Olivos should be fantastic weather! The first annual Wine Fest in Los Olivos is scheduled for the end of February on Saturday the 28th, from 11 am to 5 pm.
Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography
This new event features wine tasting, gourmet food pairing AND shopping! What more could you ask for in a wine fest?  I suppose an informative seminar tasting with the world famous Riedel wine glasses could be added in, and that's just what they've done.
The educational and fun Riedel Master Glass Seminar will be held during the festival from 1 pm to 2:30 pm at the Grange Hall in Los Olivos.
The Mystery Tour features the wine tasting rooms, superb restaurants, local chefs and specialty retailers in downtown Los Olivos. Participating chefs from the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barabra will provide food at many of these establishments.
Included with the general admission are:

  • A Los Olivos-branded tote bag with tasting glass and event information
  • Two pours per Tasting Room, restaurant and retailer
  • Gourmet foods at every stop
  • Access to Tasting Rooms’ winemakers and experts
  • Musical entertainment
  • Prize drawings for merchants’ special offers. Drawing a ‘key’ will be your chance to enter the final drawing for the Grand Prize (special rules apply).
  • Chance to be entered into the Grand Prize drawing.
The Grand Prizes are:
Visit the Wine Fest Los Olivos website for an up-to-date list of participating businesses. Tickets for the Riedel Master Glass Seminar are $55 ($65 on-site) and tickets for the Mystery Tour are $65 ($75 on-site). Both can be purchased from NightOut. I'll see you there!


Twitter:      @TasteNTrip

Monday, February 9, 2015

Preview of the 3rd SPV Wine Fest

Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival
Robert Reyes, artist, owner and wine maker at Reyes Winery, hosted a press conference last Saturday to preview the upcoming Third Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival. The nonprofit fundraiser wine festival will be held at Reyes Winery.
Click for the press conference video.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Santa Clarita, is the beneficiary this year and it will be held after the wine festival on Saturday, May 16th, at 9:00 am in Central Park, Santa Clarita.
The wine festival will showcase wines from over 40 wineries, many of Santa Clarita’s fine dining restaurants, spirit purveyors, gourmet food companies, artists and craftsmen.  Last year, more than 1100 guests visited 80+ vendors, and this year a larger turnout is anticipated, with even more vendors to keep the fun going.
Breweries and tequila producers from Southern California, local winemakers and many wineries representing both the Sierra Pelona Valley and Antelope Valley American Viticultural Areas will be represented.
Guests will be treated to gourmet food pairings from highly acclaimed Los Angeles area chefs and artisanal food makers.
Entertainment will include with live music from Clive Kennedy, Sierra Highway, and The Still Moving Project.
Sierra Highway
The Still Moving Project
There will be a raffle with Wine-and-Dine gift certificates, wines, gift baskets, and a variety of other items. And it wouldn't be shopping fun without exhibits from local artists and craftsmen.
This Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association​ event will be at Reyes Winery on Saturday, April 25th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. It's a unique wine festival in Los Angeles County and a good event to start off your 2015 wine tasting season. Tickets can be purchased online at the Reyes Winery website.

Twitter:      @TasteNTrip

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tasting Trips in 2015

Tasting Trips MMXV

Did you make it to all of the 2014 wine events I posted last January? That’s OK, even I didn’t catch them all.  These were almost, but not quite, tasting trips...
  • 22nd Annual Winter WINEland, Healdsburg
  • 3rd Annual Winter Wine Classic / California Wine Festival, Santa Barbara
  • Calabasas Beer Festival, Calabasas
  • Paso Robles Wine Country, Paso Robles
  • Paso Robles 32nd Annual Wine Festival, Paso Robles
  • ZinFest Wine Festival, Lodi
  • The 3rd Annual California Jazz & Wine Fest, Thousand Oaks
  • 11th Annual California Wine Festival, Chase Palm Park, Santa Barbara
  • Paso Robles Wine Country Harvest Wine Weekend, Paso Robles
I did get to the following festivals. If you missed them you can click on each one for the TnT blog post.
Here are a few other wine tasting, beer drinking, and even chocolate tasting trips that were fun in 2014:

Tasting Trips 2015 
The 2015 wine festivals have already begun. I missed the Ventura County Wine Trail’s Local Food & Wine Challenge a few weeks ago, but I hope to catch some of the other local events this year. 

New Trips
The first Wine Fest Los Olivos is scheduled at the end of February. I agree with the festival organizers that if there's one town in the Santa Ynez Valley that should have its own wine festival, it's Los Olivos! With over 30 wineries and tasting rooms Los Olivos is more of an ongoing wine festival than it is a town.

The 20th annual Kona Brewers Festival in Kailua-Kona caught my attention and is already on my list for early March. What better way is there to enjoy great beers than on a beach in Kamakahonu Bay overlooking the 200-year-old ʻAhuʻena Heiau temple? You can read more about the festival here.
Tried & True Tasting Trips
During the last three years of blogging about wine I’ve enjoyed these festivals the most and I hope to go to all of them again this year...

Santa Barbara Spring Weekend/33rd Annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting 

In the past this festival has moved around to different venues, but it’s back at River View Park in Buellton again this year. It’s definitely worth catching for the great Santa Barbara County wines, gourmet food and live music.

3rd Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival

This is the only wine festival I've been to that's surrounded by vineyards. And it's a great opportunity to check out the wines from these high dessert appellations … Antelope Valley of the California High Desert, Leona Valley, and Sierra Pelona (Agua Dulce and Mint Canyon). The wines are complemented with great food and musical entertainment.

The 22nd Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival

California State University's Channel Islands campus in Camarillo is one of the most comfortable venues I’ve ever visited (although I suppose it wasn't that great when it was the “Hotel California”). The assortment of California wineries, gourmet food and craft beer make it a great festival value in my opinion. The Yummies Culinary Competition ensures interesting food and the Best in Fest Beer Competition has some great craft brews participating.  Live music in the VIP tent and on the main stage is always great too.

The 29th Annual Ojai Wine Festival

I think Lake Casitas is one of the most scenic locations in Southern California for a wine festival and the free shuttle from Ojai makes it very accessible. I always enjoy the selection of wineries from all over California, the VIP tent with gourmet food, and the rockin’ live music.

The 2015 Santa Barbara Wine Festival

This festival has a tranquil setting along the banks of Mission Creek at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, a mellow crowd, and great food & wine! I always run out of tasting time, so I recommend having an organized game plan and arriving early.

Meadowlark Service League’s 28th Annual A Taste of Camarillo Wine & Food Festival 

The Camarillo Ranch location is convenient and the festival layout makes it easy to visit all of the wine and food booths. With plenty of places to sit and enjoy the musical entertainment it can be a relaxing event. Last year's theme of the "British Invasion" was a little strange to me, but I did like the pub setting for beer and the Beatles tribute band - not sure it had much to do with the wine though. Since this is right in the back yard of the Ventura County Winery Association you're bound to see many of the local wineries as well as Santa Barbara County and Central Coast wineries.

Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest 2015 Festival Grand Tasting 

Similar to the Santa Barbara Annual Vintners Festival Grand Tasting held in the spring, only warmer and in Solvang. Stay in Solvang and walk to the festival after an early breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House.
So which festivals are you going to in 2015? Send me a note and let me know if I've missed any good ones.


Twitter:      @TasteNTrip

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Indulge Los Angeles 2014

Los Angeles Chocolate Festival
and Pastry Show

It was great tasting chocolate and pastry from celebrity chefs at the Olympic Collection in Los Angeles today. The charity event was held to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital & Rock Against Trafficking. The Barcelona Enterprises organized festival also featured special wines, champagne and spirits. And it was conveniently scheduled to take place before your New Year resolutions started!

Click here to view more pictures on the Taste N Trip Facebook page.

Monday, October 20, 2014

WineFest Music Videos

And you thought Wine & Food
were the only things at Festivals!

Lots of great musical acts are at wine festivals ...
Central Coast band One Time Spaceman entertained with their Rock, Blues, and Americana style music at the 31st Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival, 2013.
The Shoemaker Brothers provided some great music and played a wide range of material at the  6th Annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration, 2013.

Maybe some Taste N Trip blog readers missed the music videos I recorded at wine festivals over the last few years.  So I thought I'd re-post a few that I shot with my video camera in my right hand and a wine glass in my left hand while walking backwards. It takes a certain wine-cam coordination to do this right, and although these aren't professional quality videos I never spilled any wine!

Donna Greene & The Roadhouse Daddies - Donna and the band performed 'A Girl's Gotta Have a Little Pleasure' at the Santa Barbara Vintner's Celebration of Harvest, Grand Tasting, Old Mission Santa Inés, Solvang in 2014.
'Britain’s Finest' the Beatles tribute band wowed them with music and costumes at A Taste of Camarillo in 2014.
Benise played at the 21st Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival in 2014. Roni Benise is an American guitarist who plays in a 'nouveau spanish flamenco' style.
Blue Latitude played at the Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration 2014. The twelve piece band played some really great pop tunes, including "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles.
Quattro played at Reyes Winery/Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival in 2014.  Quattro, the 2013 Latin Jazz Grammy Nominee for Best New Artist, plays Latin-Pop-Jazz-Classical blend that’s in their debut album 'POPZZICAL.' The band is Giovanna Clayton on Cello and vocals; Lisa Dondlinger on Violin and vocals; Kay-ta Matsuno on Guitar and vocals; and Jorge Villanueva on Percussion and vocals. 
Paul Weitz & Donna Deussen - Jazz guitarist Paul Weitz, jazz/pop vocalist Donna Deussen, bassist Dominic Genova, and drummer Gus Duffy performed 'Round Midnight' at the Simply Wine Festival 2014.
Paul Weitz & Donna Deussen - Jazz guitarist Paul Weitz and jazz/pop vocalist Donna Deussen and Rob Kohler on bass and Adam Clark on drums played 'Nick of Time' at the Ventura County Wine Trail Food and Wine Challenge 2014.
Sound Effect Band played Carole King's 'It's Too Late' at the Casa Pacifica Founders' Celebration 2013.
The Justin Claveria Quartet at the Foley Food & Wine Society Launch Party at Bacara Resort & Spa, Santa Barbara in 2013. 
Cover 2 Cover band covered a lot of great songs at A Taste of Camarillo 2013.
Upstream Music playing at the California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara - July 20, 2013.  They played some lively reggae and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. 
Sazón, a Los Angeles-based group with Latin roots, played an eclectic fusion of Nuevo-flamenco, and Jazz at LA WINEFEST 2013. 
Burning James & the the Funky Flames played 'Nasty Habits' at the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival in 2012. Burning James & the Funky Flames is a funk 'n soul powered combo from the California Central Coast.

Now let's have a big round of applause
for these talented musicians!


Twitter:      @TasteNTrip 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebration of Harvest Festival

Santa Barbara Vintners 
Celebration of Harvest - Grand Tasting
The Grand Tasting at the Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang on Saturday, October 11th, was the best part of the four day Celebration of Harvest Weekend. Special harvest events took place throughout Santa Barbara County. We went to the Santa Barbara Wine Seminar before the Grand Tasting.
Obligatory shot of a Solvang Windmill.
(Not shown, but more fun is the Solvang Brewing Company next door.)
We stayed at the basic, but convenient, Hamlet Inn nearby in Solvang. It was a very easy walk east on Mission Drive to get to the festival area.  
Mission Drive walk past Eco Wine Furniture.
Industrial Eats
On Friday night we had dinner at Industrial Eats in Buellton and then a Valhalla IPA nightcap across the street at the Solvang Brewing Company
Valhalla IPA
Paula's Pancakes
Paula's Pancakes provided a good start on Saturday morning with a filling breakfast. And Saturday night we had a fabulous dinner at the Succulent Café.
The Grand Tasting grounds at the Old Mission Santa Inés provided a nice area for wine & food, music and fun. I targeted 40 wineries to visit out of the 122 wineries pouring wine at the tasting. It's always good to set a goal, but with the added fun conversation, meeting new people, and a nice musical detour I only made it to 20 wineries. And all of them were very good!
Lots of good deals at the Silent Auction.

Longoria Wines
A Pinot Noir and bordeaux blend--both very good.
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Fe Ciega
2012 Blues Cuvée, Red Wine, Santa Barbara County A red blend with an emphasis on the Cabernet Franc grape plus other Bordeaux grape varietals and some Syrah.

Lafond Winery & Vineyards
It's so good they are tasting it themselves!
2012 Riesling, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, LaFond Vineyard
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, LaFond Vineyard
2011 Syrah, Sta. Rita Hills

Larner Vineyard & Winery
Excellent wines with impressive geological props.
2012 Rosé, Ballard Canyon
2010 Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley
2009 Elemental GSM
2010 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley

This Pop Up Seminar by Michael Larner featured more of his great wines.
La Montagne
This was a surprisingly good, new winery to me.  I thought their wines were fantastic! My favorite was the 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Buona Terra Vineyard.
2012 Pinot Blanc, Santa Barbara County, Sierra Madre Vineyard
2013 Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, Huber Vineyard
2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, Sierra Madre, Clone 667
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Buona Terra Vineyard
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, John Sebastiano

Silver Wines
Some of my favorites are from this small production winery. We bought a bottle of the
2009 Pinot Noir.
2010 El Ojo Blanco Cuvée Uno, Santa Barbara County (This stainless Viognier was originally $18, but it was on sale for $10.00, a great deal for Viognier fans!)
2011 Chardonnay
2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
2009 Saviezza (90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon)
2009 Syrah, Santa Barbara County
Silver Fifty Cask Tawny Dessert Wine

Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
This winery was a good one to start off with.  The Grenache Rosé, a style I hadn't tasted much, was surprisingly good! 
2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley
2013 Grenache Rosé, Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley, El Camino Real Vineyard
2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Valley, Goodchild Vineyard, High Nine Block
2011 Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley

Love Tantara Pinot Noir wines!
2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
Tercero Wines
Terecero always seems to be one of the busier wine booths at any festival. I eventually got close enough to taste some of these great wines.
2013 Verbiage Blanc
2013 The Outlier
2013 Mourvedre
2013 Grenache - Larner Vineyard
2013 Syrah - Larner Vineyard

Getting customer feedback...
'Pour Me Your Best Wine'
'Pour Me Your Most Popular Wine'
'I Don’t Enjoy Whites'
'I Don’t Drink Ros
Sevtap Winery
Really, really wanna zigazig ah? Then try the cab! 
Both were very good.
2012 Pillow Talk Petit Verdot
2012 Zig-a-zig-ah Cabernet Sauvignon

All great, but I liked the Pinot Noir best.

2012 Pinot Blanc, Santa Maria Valley
2012 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

Casa Dumetz
Great white wines and a nice GSM from Sonja Magdevski.
2013 Roussanne, Santa Ynez Valley, La Presa Vineyard
2013 Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley
2013 GSM, Santa Ynez Valley

Margerum Wine Company
This booth was so popular I had to use the drone to get close! How about some M5, Doug?

Barden Pinot Noir
Amaro Fortified Wine

2013 Malvasia Bianca, Santa Ynez Valley

Brewer - Clifton
2012 Machado Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

Dierberg & Star Lane Winery
2013 Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc
2011 Dierberg Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley 
2011 Dierberg Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Drum Canyon Vineyard
2009 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignonl, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
2010 Star Lane Astral, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Grassini Family Vineyards
My favorites are the Cabernet Sauvignon and the "Articondo" blend.
2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2012 "Articondo" Bordeaux Blend
2013 Estate "Happy Canyon" Sauvignon Blanc

Cinque Stelle Winery
Rosé of Syrah and Pinot Noir were my favorites.
2012 Rosé of Syrah (Named after the winemaker's dog "TUG")
2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Burning Creek Vineyard
2012 Pinot Grigio, Santa Ynez Valley, C5 Vineyard
Which way did they go? A TUG fan demonstrating the decorative doggy pour-spout.
Whitcraft Winery 
I really liked both Pinot Noir wines.
2013 Pence Ranch Chardonnay
2013 Presqu'ile Vineyard Chardonnay
2013 Pence Ranch "Pommard Clone" Pinot Noir
2013 Pence Ranch "Mt Eden Clone" Pinot Noir (pictured above)
2012 Clover Creek Syrah
Cottonwood Canyon
A real classic!

2009 Bistro Classic Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
Cold Heaven Cellars
I'm a fan of this Pinot!

2010 Makepeace Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County

 Ice Cold Heaven Cellars!


New West Catering/Industrial Eats served a decorative polenta plate. My plate was especially light!

The Willows served an excellent Tuna Tartare.
The Tuna Tartare had sashimi grade tuna, mango, grapefruit, avocado, chili oil, wonton chip and cilantro micro greens.
The Willows chef was happy!
Pasión Comida Mexicana from Orcutt served a very tasty Crab Fideo. That they recommended with the Margerum Sauvignon Blanc (D Sauvignon Blanc or Sybarite?).
Starting Gate Restaurant at Santa Ynez Valley Marriott served some awesome looking carne asada and chicken tacos. This one looks like a custom plate.


Donna Greene, known for her feisty blues, smokey jazz and down and dirty R&B, entertained the crowd along with The Roadhouse DaddiesWatch the video of Donna singing “A Girl’s Gotta Have a Little Pleasure” by CLICKING HERE (plus a surprise appearance of a well-known Santa Barabara wine photographer at 01:14).


Byron fans.
Wine expert and technology evangelist dynamic duo.
A girl's gotta have a little pleasure!  A girl's gotta have a little fun!
A great place to have a bachelorette party!
For a small donation I picked up a Petit Verdot 02FG / 5BB grapevine (Vintage Nurseries) from this student in the Allan Hancock College Agribusiness program.
The people in the bright green shirts, like Erik Siering, made it happen!

It was great that 24 wineries offered their wines for sale at the festival! I can understand the value in buying something you've just sampled that may not be distributed elsewhere. Now all I need is one of those Costco-sized shopping carts!  (With a wineglass holder.)



Twitter:      @TasteNTrip