Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taco María

Prix Fixe at the OC Mix
Taco María is located inside the OC Mix @ SoCo Collection in Costa Mesa.
3313 Hyland Avenue, Ste C21, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626  (714) 538-8444  info@tacomaria.com
Dinner is available from Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. We ate dinner there last Friday night.
Jonathan Golds 101 Best Restaurants 2014 - Los Angeles Times
Best Mexican Restaurant 2013 - OC Weekly
Best New Restaurants 2013 - OC Register

As good as the French Laundry Award 2014 - Taste N Trip

The Prix Fixe dinner was incredible! This was on par with dining at the French Laundry, only a shorter drive for us to get there. It was definitely the best dinner and wine pairing we have ever had in Southern California. 
There are two choices of prixe fixe dinners and you can order both choices to share as a couple.  Instead of one four course dinner, you can share the two different dinners and have half of eight different courses and eight different wines between two people. 
You might not expect it, but the amount of food and wine is more than enough!
Cucumber-melon-avocado, fennel, hyssop, blackberry paired with August Kessler, 2012 Riesling Kabinett, Pfalz, Germany.

Monterey squid, squid ink torilla, peanuts, purslane paired with Domaine Pichot, 2010 Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France.

Geoduck clam (pronounced "gooey duck”), abalone, Mayan octopus, avocado, tomato paired with Zocker, 2012 Gruner Veltliner, Edna Valley, California.

Beef heart tartare, serrano, lime, crisp rice, egg, yolk paired with Kaiken, 2012 Torrontes, Salta, Argentina.

FRIOLES de la OLLA (top) & PESCADO al PASTOR (bottom)
The frioles consisted of green & shelling beans, grilled cabbage, cueritos, meyer lemon paired with Leyda, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile.
The pescado included pink grouper, achitoe, citrus, braised lettuce, green tomato paired with Paco and Lola, 2012 Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain.
Guinea fowl, lavender, onion, apple, cotija, bone broth paired with Bodegas Juan Gil 'Honoro Vera' 2013 Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain.

Pork cheek, blue grits, white peach, bacon, shisito peppers paired with Yangarra Estate, 2011 Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia.

Four courses were $52.

The wine pairings were an additional $26.
Both were well worth it!
All of the courses were excellent! My special favorites were:
    FRIOLES de la OLLA
And the wines I enjoyed the most were:
  • Paco and Lola, 2012 Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain
  • Bodegas Juan Gil 'Honoro Vera' 2013 Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain  
  • Yangarra Estate, 2011 Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia

If you ever find yourself looking for a place to eat dinner in Costa Mesa (Tues-Sat), this it the place!


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TnT Worldwide Audience

Cheers to Taste N Trip Blog Readers!

According to recent Google Blogger Stats the Taste N Trip Blog audience has viewed the pages on this blog 36,774 times.
It's great that readers in the U.S. have found this blog and have read about "Notes and pictures from tasting trips around California--Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, Ventura County Wine Trail and more."  I'm also surprised at how many people from a variety of other countries have visited here too.  Most of these countries produce world class wines as well (or at least consume them), so I'm curious about their interest in California wines.  

I took a quick online tour of the wines produced by these countries and now I would like to do a worldwide tasting trip! I've been to some wineries in France and Canada, but I only drank beer while I was in Germany. I noticed there's a Wine Fest at the Kiev Expo Plaza Exhibition Center in Kiev, Ukraine from November 5th - 7th, that could be fun.

I used images of the following wine bottles to create my graph above:

Balthasar Ress, Hattenheimer Schützenhaus, Rheingau Riesling, Kabinett


Lefkadia, 2010 Tanaida, Dry Red (Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Merlot 25%, 15% Grenache, 12% Malbec, 3% Black Tsimlyansky) 
Although Rkatsiteli is a popular grape variety from Russia, I couldn’t find much about it online in the Russian Federation.  The only country I could find with information about it was The Republic of Georgia.


Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, 100% Gamay
Beaujolais Nouveau Day will be here soon - November 20th. It is celebrated in France and around the world on the third Thursday of November when young Beaujolais wine is released for sale.

Red Rooster Winery Riesling, Okanagan Valley, Canada


Официальный сайт Ассоциации Сомелье Украины. Prince Trubetskoy Winery, 2008 Pearl of the Steppes, 100% Aligoté

United Kingdom

English Wine or British Wine?
English (or Welsh Wine) is made from grapes grown in England (or Wales) and produced in UK wineries.  British Wine is the product of imported grapes or grape concentrate that is made into wine in Britain. 
Glyndwr Vineyard 2013 Red (Rondo, Regent and Triomphe d’Alsace) is from Wales.

Kweichow Moutai (Maotai) Grain Wine, 53% Alc/Vol. 

I had a friend bring me a bottle of this back from China around 1984 and it had quite a kick with a very unique grain flavor.

Pamukkale 2011 Diamond red (Shiraz, Merlot, and Turkish varieties of Kalecik Karası and Boğazkere).

Latvijas Balzams Rigas Sampanietis - Sparkling Wine Rose, Latvia

If you are reading this blog and you're from Germany, Russia, France, Canada, Ukraine, United Kingdom, China, Turkey or Latvia, what wine would you have selected to represent your country? I realize there are many different wine regions and brands in every country, so there may not be an easy answer to this question.  Or, have you tasted any of the wines I listed? Were they any good?  Send me a message ...

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Kaiken Wines

Kaiken Premium Wines at Primitivo Bistro
Earlier this week I had lunch with Aurelio Montes, Jr. of Montes and Kaiken Premium Wines at Primitivo Wine Bistro.  The media event was a great way to learn about and taste wines from Argentina.
So what about the name "Kaiken?" I encountered the brand name earlier this year at the Simply Wine Festival where the 2011 Kaiken Ultra Malbec won an "Exceptional Value Wine" award.  I wondered if Kaiken was a family name, a geographic name, or what? I guess it turns out that it's an or what ... it comes from "Caiquenes," the wild Patagonian geese that are the only birds that can make the journey across the Andes Mountains from Chile to Argentina.  

Aurelio Montes, Sr. (founding partner of Viña Montes in Chile) followed a similar direction in crossing the Andes when he came from Chile to Mendoza, Argentina in 2001. In Mendoza he found the people, terroir, viticulture and enology to produce Argentinean wines that would combine the great conditions of the Mendoza region with the talents of people from Argentina and Chile. 

The Kaiken Mendoza vineyards are in a region of foothills and high plains on the eastern side of the Andes. About 800 miles to the north of Mendoza is the town of Cafayate, in the Salta province, where their white Torrontés grapes are grown. 

Some other interesting aspects I learned about making wine in Argentina are:
  • Argentina is the largest producer of wine in South America and the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. 
  • The region around Greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America. 
  • A very small change in elevation affects the grapes dramatically.
  • Severe weather with golfball-sized-hail can destroy a vineyard, so they put up sturdy nets to protect the grapevines during growing season.
  • Kaiken only uses concrete tanks to maintain low temperatures during hot summers and to let the wine breathe during fermentation.
The Kaiken reception on the Primitivo patio started with tasty appetizers and a splash of Kaiken Brut. The sparkling wine is made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay using the traditional method.  I was initially skeptical of a sparkling brut from Argentina, but I found it to be very drinkable and would have had another glass if I wasn't there to taste wines.
I enjoyed meeting importers and other wine writers during the tasting. And I was surprised to be sitting next to Jonathan Cristaldi of The Tasting Panel Magazine; I’d just heard him talk about various wine certifications at the Wine Bloggers Conference last month. He looked like he knew what he was doing as he sipped and scribbled pages of notes; probably using the WSET Level 3 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine. 
Aurelio Montes, Jr., winemaker/owner of Bodega Kaiken since 2011, gave a great overview of growing and making wine in Argentina (with nice video graphics).  We tasted flights of wine as he talked about the viticulture of each wine.
Almost looks like a party at my place.
The first tasting flight included these wines:
  • Kaiken 2012 Terroir Series Torrontés
  • Kaiken 2011 Reserva Cabernet
  • Kaiken 2011 Reserva Malbec
Kaiken 2012 Terroir Series Torrontés,  Cafayate Valley, Salta Region
I'd never experienced a wine quite like this one before. Researching the Torrontés grape I found it is a white grape that produces fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouthfeel, plus peach and apricot aromas on the nose. The tasting notes from Kaiken add aromas of Muscat, fresh flowers and tropical fruits. I registered the floral nose, but the flavor characteristics were unusual to me and not my preferred style.  
This was Kaiken's first harvest from 80-year-old vines grown at an average of 6000 feet high. These older vines have a smaller yield with better fruit. The retail price is $15.

Kaiken 2011 Reserva Cabernet, Mendoza and Uco ValleyKaiken describes this wine as being made with 70% of the grapes from 50+ year old vines  in the Mendoza vineyards of Perdriel, Lunlunta and Agrelo and 30% from vineyards in the Uco Valley. The nose has intense aromas reminiscent of ripe plums and strawberries, accompanied by soft vanilla notes. It's soft and fresh in the mouth with a pleasant finish, when the fruit aromas of the wine make a comeback. The varietal mix is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Malbec. I thought it was excellent and the retail price is only $12!

Kaiken 2011 Reserva Malbec
A combination of 70% of the grapes from 40+ year old vines in the Agrelo and Vistalba vineyards and 30% from vineyards in the Uco Valley. The nose has mature red fruits and some spiciness, accompanied by vanilla aromas.  The mouth has a nice acidity with velvety, round and elegant tannins. The varietal blend is 96% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. I found this wine to be a very rich with a black fruit flavor and a slight essence of leather. Very good and the retail price is only $12!
The second tasting flight included these red wines:
  • Kaiken 2012 Terroir Series Malbec
  • Kaiken 2011 Ultra Cabernet 
  • Kaiken 2011 Ultra Malbec
Kaiken 2012 Terroir Series Malbec
Described as having a nose of blueberries, blackberries and floral aromas, this wine is backed by the structure and freshness of Petit Verdot, ending with a mineral finish provided by Bonarda (aka Douce noir, a red French wine grape variety). The unique combination of Bonarda and Petit Verdot contribute a freshness and structure to the Malbec characteristics. I thought it tasted very good. The retail price is $22.

Kaiken 2011 Ultra Cabernet  
According to Kaiken's technical data this wine is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. It has hints of mature red berries, tobacco and spices accompanied by vanilla notes. On the mouth it is a dense, mouth filling wine showing plum, redcurrant and mocha flavors, good structure with ripe, round and soft tannins. 
Well, I found it to be very tannic, but I suppose it can mellow out over time. The Kaiken food pairing notes made sense to me. I'm sure this Cabernet pairs well with red meats and spicy sauces, becaue it went very well with the spicy pizza appetizer that was served. Just what I like--a rich red wine that pairs well with spicy food! This wine is well worth the $23 retail price.
Kaiken 2011 Ultra Malbec
Kaiken's notes describe this wine as having a nose that's flowery with mineral notes, plus spicy touches. On the mouth it has a flavor of sweet plum, mocha and black cherry plus tannins that are both soft and present. Well balanced with a very long and polished finish, where fruits like blueberry and boysenberry are evident.  I definitely got big a black cherry flavor characteristic. Yummy! Now I know why the 2011 Ultra Malbec won an "Exceptional Value Wine" award--at the low price of $14-$19 it's a winner!
 This guy is really into his wine!
Kaiken 2007 Mai
Kaiken explains that “Mai” means “First” in the language of the indigenous Pehuenches, which is why it was selected for the name of their first icon wine. Mai is a combination of Malbec grapes from the from 80-year-old vines in Agrelo, Vistalba, and Vista Flores regions of Mendoza. The wine has ripe fruit and spicy aromas, and a silky, sensuous palate with smooth, ripe tannins. It is produced in limited quantities of about 500 cases per year.

I found it to be an excellent red wine and the 18 months in new French oak barrels, plus 5 1/2 years in the bottle, produced a very mellow wine. A very nice pairing of Mai with steak and pommes frites was a wonderful way to finish the wine tasting.  
I'm sure a bottle of 2007 Mai is worth the $80 retail price with 91 point ratings from both Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, although my budget may have a little trouble with the $80 price.  I suppose I could rationalize buying a few bottles if I save about $200 (or more, depending on the prices you're comparing) by buying just one case of 2011 Reserva Cabernet and one case of 2011 Ultra Malbec. Wine Searcher lists Kaiken 2007 Mai at a few Southern California locations:
  • Vino Paraiso, Murrieta $69.95
  • Wine House, Los Angeles $79.99
Aurelio Montes, Jr. with a bottle of 2007 Mai
The Kaiken wines were great, very inexpensive overall, and now I know that good wines from Argentina include Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Malbec. I think I'm going to be buying a lot more red wine from Argentina, and maybe even taste Torrontés another time.

What's your favorite wine from Argentina?
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Friday, August 1, 2014

A Taste Of Camarillo 2014

A Taste Of Camarillo 2014
@ Adolpho Camarillo Ranch

Wine Auction Gala - Saturday, July 26th
The Meadowlark Service League put on another amazing auction gala and a fantastic wine & food festival in Camarillo this year. The gala at the Camarillo Ranch Red Barn started with a Champagne Reception, wine and appetizers, a silent auction, and live country/folk music by Horseplay. A live auction with auctioneers Tom & Sandy of 805 fame (the radio show, not the beer) followed after a gourmet dinner that featured Magnavino Cellars 2012 Butterfly Chardonnay and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mike & Chris Brown - Cantara Cellars & Barbara & Robert Wagner - Magnavino Cellars

Wine & Food Festival - Sunday, July 27th
The Meadowlark Service League’s 27th Annual charitable Wine and Food Festival is said to be the longest running wine and food festival in Ventura County. In addition to the wines from vineyards throughout California and gourmet foods, there was live entertainment by “Britain’s Finest” Beatles tribute band, a silent auction, and boutiques.
The theme was “The British are Coming!” with the Beatles tribute band, the Queen look-alike, Cooper Minis and streets renamed Abbey Road and Penny Lane. It’s nice to have a new theme, but I think the basics—wine, beer and food—remained the same, and that’s a good thing! 
I saw the VIP Lark Lounge from the Beak & Barrel Beer Pub, which was more fun anyway, and I watched a few minutes of a demo by Chef Amy Tyrell in the Strawberry Fields Cooking Pavilion.
Magnavino Cellars - The Official 2014 Wine Sponsor
Out of the many fine wines available at the festival, I managed to taste at these 26 wineries:
  • Artiste Winery
  • August Ridge Vineyards
  • B&E Vineyard
  • Calcareous Vineyard
  • Cantara Cellars
  • Cass Winery
  • Golden Star Vineyards & Winery
  • Hidden Oak Winery
  • Indigene Cellars
  • J&J Cellars
  • Kiamie Wine Cellars
  • Laraneta Winery
  • Magnavino Cellars
  • Nobelle Wines
  • Old Creek Ranch Winery
  • Rancho Ventavo Cellars
  • Rideau Vineyard
  • Sextant Wines
  • Strey Cellars
  • Summerland Winery
  • Sundowner Wines
  • Sunland Vintage Winery
  • Sunstone Winery
  • Toucan Wines
  • Via Vega Vineyard & Winery
  • Vinemark Cellars
And no surprise, they were all very good! 

The gourmet food offerings were outstanding as well.
Cafe Zack's Filet Mignon paired with Magnavino Cellars' Tuscan Romance.
To view all of the pictures and video of the wine, beer, food and music click here for the Gala and click here for the Festival.

Note: If you go to the Festival link on a smart phone you will likely see "The content owner has not made this video available on mobile. Add to playlist to watch it later on a PC." Apparently, Britain's Finest sound exactly like the Beatles. ;-) Sorry, but it is worth playing on a Mac or PC...

Were you at the Gala or Festival? Let me know what you thought of it ...

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wine Bloggers Conference 2014

Wine Bloggers Conference 2014
What can I say about the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference held in Buellton a few weeks ago? 
The purpose of the conference seemed to have been two-fold: 1) tips about wine blogging and 2) an opportunity to blog about wines. At this time of the year the wine events that I blog about are in full swing, so I didn’t have a burning desire to add to my backlog of blog posts. My main objective was to learn more about blogging in general and wine blogging in particular. It was also a good opportunity to network with wine bloggers and wine professionals, tweet a bunch, and of course… drink wine!
I attended some interesting sessions on blogging (the keynote speech), wine certifications, the bu$iness of blogging, photography & videography for wine bloggers, print wine writers, and how the pros taste wine. I listened to how successful bloggers sell ads on their blog sites, get sponsorships, experiment with their site styles, don’t review wines in detail if they aren’t certified, limit the amount of photos on their blog to just 6, reduce the amount of text and increase the amount of graphics/photos, leverage their character rather than their credentials, proactively market their blogs, and hang out with successful people. Well, at least I was hanging out with some of the successful people in the wine industry… and drinking wine.
Does the world need another wine review site?
Hell no, the world doesn’t need me to review wines. If anyone wants a competent wine review they can read the Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, or one of the many other credible publications! That’s why my blogging about tasting trips around California doesn’t focus on detailed wine reviews. I blog about the event instead: the wine, the food, the people, the venue, the music, and even the beer! I’d rather be out there getting the whole experience instead of describing each wine in terms of Sight, Aroma, Taste, Balance and Finish. Besides doing that for 50 - 60 wines isn’t feasible in 4 hours unless you’re a SuperSomm.

So maybe this thing isn’t a WINE BLOG! (And it certainly isn’t profitable.)
  • I have no certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), or the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) as a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). So there aren’t many detailed wine reviews. (I'd better leverage my character here since I'm short on these credentials.)
  • Just 6 pictures per blog? I typically shoot 300 - 500 pictures and some video at events. So even after I edit down to 40 - 60 good pictures there are still way too many for a typical blog.
  • Profitable? I have used Google Ads AdSense in the past, but despite over 34,000 pageviews the revenue is a big zero. Sponsorships are interesting, but I like to keep things independent when writing about wine and food events.
  • I should probably use more graphics, like the print wine writers recommended...

This conference made me wonder, so WHO is my audience?
I rarely get comments, only the odd promotion, so I don’t have many clues about who is actually viewing/reading my blog. Maybe it’s just other bloggers? Wineries? Or, it could just be regular people who like wine. Whoever they are most of them seem to be in the United States.
(See handy graphic above.)

I guess I'll just have to think about all of these points some more and fine tune my blog in the second half of this year. I think I'll still keep this a photo-centric blog though. It would be great to get some feedback, come up with an event better format, and monetize my posts while entertaining you. 
Are you one of those people who read my blog? Please let me know who you are and what you'd like to see more or less of...
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So Cal Vyds Harmata Family Wines

Southern California Vineyards 
Harmata Family Wines

I first met Tommy Booth at the Calabasas Malibu Wine Festival in 2012 where he had four wines available for tasting from three wineries: Bridle Trail Wines in Hidden Hills, Calabasas Vineyards, and Tenenbaum Estate Wines—Hidden Hills Vineyards. 
His Southern California Vineyards wine consultation business had been involved with the vineyards of these local wineries and they produced some very good, small production, red wines!
In recent years I’ve noticed more and more grapevines on the hillsides in Westlake Village, so I think an organic grapevine installation company for local homeowners and boutique wineries is a great idea! And after talking with him, it’s obvious to me that Tommy knows what he's doing in the vineyard and as a winemaker. 
I tasted his own 2011 vintage of backyard Cabernet Sauvignon that was grown in Calabasas at the 2013 Calabasas Malibu Wine Festival. No labels were on his bottles yet, but the Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent!

The more I talked with Tommy, the more I was intrigued about planting some grapes at my house, even if it was only one row of grapevines.  I had accumulated a random collection of them from wine festivals and wineries that were growing in pots in the backyard and I concluded that they needed to be organized and properly planted. When my wife and I made plans to re-landscape at the end of 2013 I called Tommy for his suggestions. 
I suppose my nano-vineyard of seven vines was probably the smallest project he’d ever taken on, but he approached it like any other size project and the results were great (just not very big). Now I am the owner the eclectic “Conejo Valley Vineyard.”  
During the spring of 2014 when Tommy worked on my small vineyard project I bought some of his Harmata Family Wines 2012 MemoryMaker Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon—and this vintage even had labels!
In keeping with the theme of making memories I tasted it after the new vineyard was planted. 
I had my first sip of the 2012 MemoryMaker while sitting on my front steps looking at the small line of newly planted grapevines. Even though my nano-vineyard is not intended for production, it’s fun to watch while enjoying a glass of wine and it’s a lot closer than any wine country destinations. 
The Cabernet Sauvignon had a nose of dark berries with blackberry on the palate and an overall richness that I enjoyed thoroughly. It was good in 2014 and I imagine it would improve during the next five years.
Memory Maker's back label with "This wine will always remind me of..." fill in the blank.
At the 2014 Calabasas Malibu Wine Festival I visited Harmata Family Wines again this year. Tommy poured 2012 Memory Maker Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Memory Maker Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was still excellent since I’d tasted the bottle I bought in May and my wife said the Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon was very delicious! We’re buying some more of both soon. 
Imagine buying some of the first wines produced by a famous winemaker back when he was just starting out... I think we have, and that’s a real memory makerCheers!

Know about any local wineries just starting out? Share your thoughts with me at ...
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Santa Barbara Wine Fest 2014

Santa Barbara Wine Festival 2014
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
This year the festival wine glasses were moved indoors to the entryway of Fleischmann Auditorium and offered a fun photo op with this friendly-looking bear.

And the annual reminder bear was still on patrol at the entry.
Mission Creek is a nice backdrop to the festival, although I've never seen much water in it.

Part of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's tagline is "Inspiring a thirst for discovery..." and I interpreted that to be a thirst for discovery of new wines.  I wasn't disappointed again this year and enjoy this wine festival more than others in the area.
Avelina 2012 Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County (and sponsor of the friendly-looking bear by the wine glasses).
Mary Beth Vogelzang with Vogelzang Vineyard 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley.

 A fine line-up of reds and whites!
  • Vogelzang 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley
  • Vogelzang 2011 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley
  • Vogelzang 2009 Pinot Noir,  Santa Rita Hills
  • Vogelzang 2011 Reserve Viognier, Happy Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley
Uncorking for the day...
Alexander & Wayne - Burgundy and Bordeaux varieties
Arthur Earl - Rhone, Italian, Spanish varieties

Beckman Vineyards ready to pour their Grenache Blanc, Cuvée Le Bec, Grenache and Syrah.

Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards with 2010 Syrah, 2010 Z Cuvée (54% Grenache, 34% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 6% Cinsault), 2012 Viognier and 2011 Z Blanc (78% Roussanne, 17% Grenache Blanc, 5% Viognier).
Andrew Murray Vineyards poured a very nice 2013 Viognier, Santa Maria Valley, a 2012 Espérance, Central Coast (60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre) and a 2012 Syrah, Stolpman Vineyard, Ballard Canyon.  
I liked the 2013 Viognier, Santa Maria Valley and 2012 Syrah, Stolpman Vineyard, Ballard Canyon best.

Fiddlehead Cellars poured a white, a pink, and a red:
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
2013 Pinot Noir Rosé
2010 Seven Twenty Eight Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Fiddlestix. And don't forget to drink 728 on 7/28 at the big party in the Lompoc Tasting Room or toast from home and send pictures.

Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars had a nice variety of wines, including their bubbly:
2010 Goat Bubbles, Blanc de Blancs, Santa Maria Valley, Sierra Madre Vineyard
2013 Pinot Gris, Santa Maria Valley, Sierra Madre Vineyard
2009 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Rio Vista Vineyard
2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Dierberg Vineyard

Westerly Wines with a great selection of Santa Barbara County wines:
2012 Westerly Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County
2010 Westerly Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
2010 Westerly Fletcher’s Red, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc)

Kenneth Volk Vineyards, where Ken poured his version of American Beauty…
2011 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
2013 Albariño, River Bench Vineyard
2012 Malvasia Bianca, Monterey, San Bernabe Vineyard
2010 Mourvèdre, Lime Kiln Valley, Enz Vineyard
2010 Zinfandel, Lime Kiln Valley, Enz Vineyard
2009 Tempranillo, San Benito, John Smith Vineyard

Transcendence Wines 2012 Chardonnay, Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills poured by winemaker Joey Gummere (AKA Kenneth). Love the Zotovich fruit.
Larner Winery had a very nice selection of wines, including:
2011 Rosé, Ballard Canyon
2009 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
2009 Elemental GSM

Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard poured white, rosé, and red wines:
2013 Patelin de Tablas Blanc
2013 Dianthus (
Rosé of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Counoise)
2012 Patelin de Tablas

In a wooded corner by Mission Creek I found Grassini Family Vineyards and Rachael poured me their extremely popular Bordeaux blend, the 2011 Articondo, Happy Canyon Vineyard, which is sold out! She also had some chilled 2012 Sauvignon Blanc available.
Feliz Noche Cellars poured a red wine with a well-hidden label.
Kunin Wines poured a 2013 Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley, Camp Four Vineyard.  My favorite white wine!
Ken Brown, with a bottle of 2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, and Jarrod Bradley of Ken Brown Wines. They also poured these wines:
2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley - a debut wine.
2011 Rita’s Crown Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, Rita’s Crown Vineyard
2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Garey Vineyard
2010 Syrah, Santa Barbara County, “A” Cuvée
I especially enjoyed the red wines.

Brewer-Clifton poured a very nice 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, other Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, plus  a 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Kessler-Haak that was popular with the tasters below.

Karina and Larry Hogan of Sagebrush Annie's poured their red wines from Stone Pine Estate, Core, Barnwood and Laetitia vineyards. Great reds!
At Margerum Wine Company I tasted their 2012 M5, Santa Barbara County (43% Grenache, Alamo Creek, Camp 4, Rodney’s, and Black Oak vineyards, 41% Syrah, Colson Canyon, Black Oak, Great Oak, John Sebastiano, and Alondra de los Prados vineyards, 9% Mourvedre, Curtis and Zaca Mesa vineyard, 4% Cinsault, Camp 4 vineyard, 3% Counoise, Camp 4 vineyard) and a 2010 Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County. Both were delicious!
They were also poured a 2012 Sybarite (Sauvignon Blanc), Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, and a 2011 Buoni Anni Bianco (34% Cent’Anni Estate Pinot Grigio, 32% Honea Vineyard Tocai Fruiliano, 34% Sierra Madre Vineyards Pinot Bianco), and 2009 Buoni Anni, Santa Barbara County (Sangiovese with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

Richard Sanford poured his Alma Rosa 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, La Encantada Vineyard & El Jabalí Vineyard.  Very good!

Chemayne Faulconer of Roblar Winery poured a 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
Bob Wesley of The Winehound poured a Mirabelle 2012 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Daniel Gehrs Wines poured a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (blended with Petit Verdot), Central Coast.
Koehler Winery poured two very good red wines: a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley and a 2010 Sangiovese, Santa Ynez Valley.
Doug Timewell and Terrie Leivers of Toucan Wines poured their great reds and fortified wines: the 2010 & 2011 Carignane, the 2009 Zinfandel and the 2010 Estate Toucanet Port Style Dessert Wine. All were very good!
Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines poured his artistic Rhône red and white wines, plus a special Erlenmeyer flask that made some people get a little excited!

Marmalade Café served up some tasty treats, but the prop bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne was fun too.

The Berry Man, Inc., a wholesale produce distributor, always puts out a great display of fresh strawberries.
Whole Foods Market has a great selection of appetizers.
Renaud’s Patisserie put together an artistic arrangement.

Sweets from Mademoiselle Madeleine.

Brophy Bros. Clambar & Restaurant served some nice ceviche.

SBCC School of Culinary Arts made some country pork paté with mini pickle slices.
Via Maestra 42 was popular with their ceviche treats.
Tropical Ceviche with citrus marinated Mexican shrimp and baby scallops topped with tropical mango dressing.
Ceviche Verde with fresh Halibut ceviche in a special cilantro basil marinade with pineapple and red onion.

What wine would you pair with Rock Rose Smoked Chipotle Chili and Tangerine and Smoked Sea Salt Marmalade from Sweet Lady Cook Handmade Preserves?
Finch & Fork's Shuck & Swallow oysters were as easy as ONE...
THREE!  (Thanks to this oyster volunteer for demonstrating, because I'm not an oyster fan.)
C’est Cheese served Three Chees Foccacia and Cucumber & Avocado Soup.

The Pickle People from the Pacific Pickle Works smile when they say, “Asparagusto!”
Sorriso Italiano served One Meatball and it was available next to  Kalyra Winery.
Chef Michael Hutchings of Michael's Catering served a Gruyere Cheese Souffflé--twice baked on a pool of cream.

Georgia's Smokehouse served a chicken sandwich and everyone was snapping them up.  The early ones might have looked better; I think I got there a little late.
Freezer Monkeys added some new Bon Bons to their line-up.  Great dessert on a warm day!

I thoroughly enjoyed the wine & food and talking with vendors, winemakers, and friends.  This festival always draws a good crowd, but it is still, somehow, laid back and you can taste at a relaxed pace. Of course you can't taste everything, as I try to do every year, but you can cover most of the wine and food. Maybe if I didn't take so many pictures I'd cover more ground, but that wouldn't be as much fun! 


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