Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wine Tasting Events 2012

I usually write about events that have already happened. In this case I thought I'd let you know that there are some exciting California wine tasting events coming up in the next few months!
Stay tuned for more Taste-N-Trip coverage...

Provence in the City 2012 - LOS ANGELES
April 2
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Fig & Olive Melrose Place
8490 Melrose Pl
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 360-9100

Join us for the year's largest official presentation of the wines of Provence in Los Angeles! Sample some of the finest rosé, red and white wines of the Côtes de Provence appellation … paired with Mediterranean hors d’oeuvres.
Media only event.

30th Annual Vintners' Festival - Santa Barbara  
Saturday - April 21, 2012
Vintners' Festival Weekend
April 20, 21, 22, 23

The Vintners’ Festival is hosted by the more than one hundred vintners and winemakers of the organization, who will be pouring their latest releases of the fifty-four plus varietals of wine grown in the county. The festival will also feature more than two dozen local restaurants, caterers and purveyors of specialty foods serving tasty wine country bites, and two live and lively bands filling the spring air with music. Add to that a Silent Auction to benefit local charities, art displays from area artists and a day of wine country camaraderie and you’ve got a festival where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Festival takes place on Saturday, April 21st, from 1 to 4 pm at The Carranza, located approximately at 5406 Zaca Station Road, on the outskirts of Los Olivos.

This weekend, wineries also present their own events, ranging from Winemaker's Dinners through library tastings and sales to new wine releases and barrel tastings. Check back here to see a full listing of events as they are finalized.

A favorite feature of the weekend is the Vintners' Visa - your passport to twelve winery tasting rooms - use the Vintners' Visa to explore new wineries - or revisit old friends.
For tickets, visit: or call 888-330-6744.
For details about the event e-mail

30th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival 
May 18 - 20, 2012
Paso Robles, CA

EXPERIENCE THE PERSONALITY AND RICH HISTORY reflected in each glass of Paso Robles wine. Combining traditions of the past with innovations of the future, Paso Robles Wine Country comes together to honor 30 years of the Paso Robles Wine Festival May 18 – 20, 2012. This celebration of the finest in food and wine will embrace all that define Paso Robles Wine Country – welcome-to-the-neighborhood atmosphere, fantastic food offerings, and of course exceptional wines.

The 30th Annual Wine Festival begins Friday, May 18, 2012 as select wineries feature their library, reserve, futures and refreshing power white/Rosé samples at the RESERVE event. On Saturday, May 19, 2012 more than 70 wineries come together in the Paso Robles Downtown City Park to showcase their wines alongside culinary samplings from fresh and trendy food trucks.

Travel beyond the Park to explore more than 150 winery events throughout the weekend including winemaker dinners, live music, barrel samplings, and more. 

Conejo Wine & Jazz Fest
Sun, May 20 2012, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Conejo Creek Park North
1379 East Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

The Conejo Wine & Jazz Fest will be held on May 20, 2012, at Conejo Creek Park North, 1379 East Janss Road in Thousand Oaks from 1 pm - 4 pm.

The day will feature restaurants, caterers and wineries in addition to live Jazz performance by some of the areas finest musicians. Come and join us in wine tastings, food tastings and great music!

This event supports the local high school music programs of the Conejo Valley. The cost to attend is $50 and the special VIP ticket is $75. The VIP ticket includes a VIP parking pass, one hour early admission, and reserved VIP seating near the jazz music stage and under a shade tent.

For general information, visit:
For tickets, visit:

5th Annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration
Thursday, June 21, 2012 from 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
715 South A Street, Oxnard, CA 93030

It's time to celebrate! Join us for the 5th Annual Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration and experience Ventura County's artisan wines, incredible food, live music and more!

This year's celebration will be held at the historic Heritage Square in downtown Oxnard, CA from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, June 21st, 2012.

Tickets available for only $35. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Ventura County FOOD SHARE, a food bank that houses and distributes millions of pounds of food every year to the hungry of Ventura County. This event is open to the public - ages 21 and up. Admission price includes food, wine and souvenir wine glass.

Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the finest wines of Ventura County!

For general information, visit:
For tickets, visit:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Malibu Wine Trail

Wine Tasting in the Bu  

The city of Malibu is known for its 21 miles of sandy beaches from Topanga to Nicholas Canyon and for being the home of movie stars. Signs with "27 miles of scenic beauty" on them refer to Malibu's original coastal length before it became a city in 1991. Since the mid 1980’s the hills in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu and the Mediterranean climate have been producing local wines. 

My wife and I took a tasting trip to some local wineries between Calabasas and Malibu last Friday afternoon.  Our scenic drive to Malibu started around 4 pm and it was easy to sample wines at three tasting rooms in the Agoura/Malibu area. The route from Calabasas is roughly 50 miles round-trip. That’s about 1 ½ hours driving time and we spent about 20 minutes at each tasting room, so we were done in 2 ½ hours (about 6:30 pm).  Once the Cornell Tasting Room reopens (they are open for wine sales now, just not for tasting/sales by the glass) you could easily add them as a first stop.  And the Old Place restaurant next door in Cornell is a great place for Brunch or Dinner on the weekend. 

SIP Malibu - Cielo Wine Bar / Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyard

Our first stop was at the newly renovated SIP Malibu - Cielo Wine Bar. Their sign is not visible from the road, so make a left turn off of Kanan on to Sierra Creek Road when you see the Rustic Canyon General Store & Grill sign. SIP is located next door to the general store and a separate business from Cielo Malibu Estate.

They sell Cielo wines exclusively and also have a nice selection of bottled beers if you’re not interested in tasting wine. The colorful décor and posters inside the tasting room, the Woodstock Collection labels, and the music playing give it a real 60’s vibe.

Lauren & Corey
I tasted the “Mixed Flight” of wines and my wife tried the “White Flight.” The Tasting Menu also included higher priced tastings, “Estate Flight” and “Monster Flight,” and we plan on trying those on our next visit.  My favorites were the 2009 Honey Pie (45% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Muscat) and the 2009 Pinot Noir (100% Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia). The Honey Pie was a very interesting blend of whites with a little bit of sweetness. And I don’t think I ever had 100% Pinot Noir before. It was lighter than most Pinot Noir wines I’ve had and didn’t have as much of a fruit presence.  My wife liked the 2010 Woodstock "Misty Roses" Rosé (70% Merlot, 30% Malbec from Napa Valley) – a great sipping wine for summertime.

Malibu Wines / Malibu Family Wines

If you look them up online you might notice there’s a slight difference between “Malibu Family Wines” and “Malibu Wines.” They have different website and street addresses and are not exactly the same business.  Malibu Wines is an outdoor tasting room that offers Semler & Saddlerock wines made by Malibu Family Wines. Their wines are served at a couple of rustic tasting bars; a large one exclusively for their Wine Club Members and a smaller one for non-members.

Semler was the first label and Saddlerock was the second label made by Malibu Family Wines.  Saddlerock ranch is the estate where grapes for both labels are grown.  It is across Mulholland Highway from the tasting room and they host wine club events there at the ranch.
This is my favorite place for enjoying outdoor wine tasting. During their summer hours (from Memorial Day to Halloween), they are open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings with live music.  You can bring a picnic dinner and enjoy wine tasting until 5:30 pm, or wine purchased by the bottle until 9 pm with live music.
We tasted the Saddlerock Ranch Flight and my favorite was the 2010 Saddlerock Merlot.  It was very berry-like with a blackberry and plum nose plus a raspberry and tobacco taste.  The Semler Estate Flight looks like fun with all Cabs in it – we’ll have to taste that one on our next trip. 

Rosenthal - The Malibu Vineyard Wine Tasting Room and Garden Patio

We ended our tasting trip at the Rosenthal Wine Tasting Room and Garden Patio across from Topanga Beach in Malibu. It is located between Malibu beach classics Wylie’s Bait & Tackle and the Reel Inn. The previously deserted Real Estate Loans building and overgrown back have been transformed into a happening meeting place for locals and tourists alike.  Although it was not too crowded when we pulled in before 6:00, by the time we left it was busy in the tasting room and the parking lot was full. In addition to wine tastings people can gather in the bar area or the new garden patio in the back to drink wines by the glass or bottle. The garden patio in back is a great idea for summer wine tasting. 

The wine tasting flight included Rosenthal Malibu Estate and Surfrider wines. We enjoyed a special comparison of the 2009 Surfrider (Central Coast) and 2010 Surfrider (San Luis Obispo County) Chardonnays.  I liked the 2010 best.  My wife really liked the 2009 Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate Chardonnay and bought a bottle.  My other favorite was the 2007 Surfrider “Hang Ten Red” blend that had cassis, raspberry, blackberry, and oak flavors. 

After several tastings we were starting to get hungry for dinner and we were happy to see that snacks were available for purchase while tasting.  We also spotted a list of food trucks like the “Crispy Truck” and “Ragin’ Cajun Truck” that were visiting Rosenthal on the weekends. 

Contact Information

Old Place Cornell
29983 Mulholland Hwy, Cornell (aka Agoura), CA 91301

Cornell Winery & Tasting Room
29975 Mulholland Hwy, Cornell (aka Agoura), CA 91301
*As of 3/22/12 they were waiting for building permit for a 2nd restroom, until the construction is complete there will not be any more tastings.

SIP Malibu - Cielo Wine Bar (Tasting Room)
2598 Sierra Creek Road, Agoura, CA 91301

Cielo Farms / Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyard
31424 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Private Tastings and Tours - Bill Hirsh - Vintner

Malibu Wines (Tasting Room)
31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
*Last tasting pour is 5:30 pm, even when events last until 9 pm in the summer.

Malibu Family Wines
32111 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

The Rosenthal Tasting Room / Rosenthal - The Malibu Estate
18741 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
*Last tasting pour is 7:30 pm.

Other Vineyards (No Tasting Rooms)

Colcanyon Estate Wines
2375 Latigo Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265
*Please Note: They do not operate as a tasting room yet. Taste at Cornell Winery & Tasting Room.

Schetter Malibu Vineyard
5825 Murphy Way Malibu, CA 90265
*Taste at Cornell Winery & Tasting Room.

Malibu Solstice
29350 Pacific Coast Hwy, Ste. 12, Malibu, CA 90265
*No Tasting Room.

Hoyt Family Vineyards
Kanan Dume Rd., Malibu, CA 90265
310-457-3832 5929
*No Tasting Room.

Jim Palmer’s Malibu Vineyards
22631 Pacific Coast Hwy, #900 Malibu, CA 90265
*No Tasting Room.

Monday, March 19, 2012


A friend of mine and I tasted beer at EBC yesterday in Moorpark.   It was a  fun time in a local brewery.

They were pouring Saison, Altbier, and Imperial IPA.  

Here are the beer descriptions from their website ( 

Golden Spur Saison
Golden Spur Saison is light in color but full in flavor. We use a Belgain Saison yeast fermented warm for enhanced yeast flavor - and at 6.7% ABV this beer has a ton of flavor.

Valkyrie California Altbier
German Altbier with a California twist - a traditional German Altbier with more malt, more alcohol and a California Ale yeast fermented cold.

Protector Imperial IPA
Unlike most IPAs brewed on the West Coast - our IPA not only has a ton of hops (100 IBUs) but is brewed with a strong malt backbone to help balance out the bitterness.

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of Saison, but their version was very drinkable and would be great in the summer.   I have always liked, and even brewed, Altbiers. The way they have added more malt to their Altbier works for me.  My favorite style of beer is IPA/Imperial IPA and the Protector Imperial IPA is a very nicely balanced brew.  I think there are stronger IPAs out there, but this one is excellent, even if a little lighter than what I'm used to in an Imperial IPA.  I agree with the 2 reviews on Beer Advocate that list citrus flavor and medium-full body.  We bought a 2 liter growler of it for home consumption and it lasted all of a few hours after getting home!

Chris and the rest of the crew are nice to talk to and will give you the full tour if you're interested.  I highly recommend trying their beer next time you're at many of the local pubs in the Oxnard - Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village area.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Magnavino Cellars Carnevale Pick-up Party

We had a fun time at Magnavino Cellars last week.  They had a Carnevale themed party with fun entertainment, good food, and of course, great wines!  

I took a few pictures of the event and they're posted at  Seems like Robert and Barbara are always throwing parties in their barrel room.  

Their tasting room is at 961 North Rice Avenue, Suite 5 in Oxnard.

- Gary