Sunday, June 3, 2012

Conejo Wine & Jazz Fest 2012

The Conejo Wine & Jazz Fest was held on May 20, 2012, at Conejo Creek Park North in Thousand Oaks. It featured wineries, restaurants, caterers and live jazz. An enjoyable afternoon of wine and food tastings with great music! 

Apparently the park limited attendance to only a few hundred people, but there was room for two or three times that amount and the booths were spaced around an area that could have held another event within it.  It was probably a good thing that it was limited though. The parking lot was completely full when I got there and the overflow parking at the library was a long hike away. 

Finally - a wine and food festival that gives you a convenient way to juggle everything!  The tray/wine glass holder was a winner!

The winery line up included Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyard - The SIP, Consensio Cellars, HAKA by Labyrinth, Herzog Wine Cellars, J. Hamilton's Wines, Magnavino Cellars, Millésimé Cellars, OneHope Wines, Opolo Vineyards, Ranch Ventavo Cellars, ViñAlegre, Vines on the Marycrest, and Roxo Port Cellars.  Wine merchants included Bean Crazy and Total Wine & More.

Restaurants and caterers included BJ's Restaurant / Brewhouse, DJ's California Catering,
The Sugar Lab, KIND Healthy Snacks, La Cucina di Venti, The Mermaid Tavern, Jinky's Cafe, Vom Fass, Robeks, Don's Smokin' Salmon, Pierre's Catering, Pookie's Thai Westlake Restaurant, I Would Rather Be Baking Co., and Nothing Bundt Cakes.  A few markets were there too -
Maddy's Market and Sprouts Farmers Market.

I especially liked the food from the Mermaid Tavern, Cucina di Venti, Pierre's Catering, and BJ's Restaurant/Brewhouse. 

The Mermaid had a nice layout with mini wonton tacos filled with duck confit, Napa cabbage, finished with a sweet cherry vinaigrette.  They also had a pear salad that looked very good and healthy.  This was my first food tasting and a great way to start!

The skewered Hors d'oeuvres featuring olives from Cucina di Venti went very well with my glass of wine from the booth next door - Labyrinth Haka Freebird (50% Merlot, 50% Tempranillo).

Pierre's Catering offered homemade whole wheat sesame thyme pita flats finished off with a bleu cheese mousse, crushed, crystalized walnuts, and sprouts from Camarillo.  That Pierre, he's clever, this is is nice with any type of wine! I was enjoying a Sangiovese from Consensio Cellars at the time.

BJ's Restaurant/Brewhouse was serving a nice choice of regular or dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  Great dessert, but where's the beer?  (I suppose it wasn't allowed in the wine event.)

I didn't get to visit Nothing Bundt Cakes, but my wife and I are frequent customers so I'm sure they had yummy cakes!

Don's Smokin' Salmon

Looks delicious!

The Matt Finders Septet (plus the guy who constantly fiddled with the audio equipment)
Live music was performed throughout the afternoon by keyboard artist and composer Tim Heintz plus jazz singer Karen Harper, jazz aficionado Matt Harris, Cuban-born percussionist Luis Conte and vocalist/keyboardist "Mighty" Mo Rodgers, and the Matt Finders Septet.
They were all great and I liked "Mighty" Mo Rodgers' song about the Facebook blues.  The VIPs in the tents had a nice location for listening to the music.

Although I didn't visit all of the wineries at the festival, here's the complete list:

After tasting most of the wines being poured I rated them from 1 to 5:
Considering the wine rating vs. the price they rank as follows:
Vines of the Marycrest
Bean Crazy
Millésimé Cellars
HAKA by Labyrinth
Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyard - The SIP
Consensio Cellars
Magnavino Cellars
OneHope Wines

Roxo Port Cellars
mi Casa de Angeles
The Rotary Club - Westlake Village

The Conejo Wine (and Food) & Jazz Fest was a nice way to meet the people that are involved in fine wines and gourmet food.  Overall, it was a great day for enjoying wine, food, and music outdoors in Conejo Creek Park.

See you there next year.  Cheers!
Gary Coon
Taste N Trip Blog