Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tee It Up for Wine!

Alan Gottfried of Tee It Up Radio Network (Sundays, 7am-8am on 870 AM in LA) has entered into a new venture with Reyes Winery.

In a recent conversation, Al explained that his hit golf talk show had grown over the last 19 years and that they have added another dimension with lifestyle segments on the Tee It Up Radio Network. Al and Adam Gottfried, a father and son team created this hit show more than 19 years ago and now they have 14 employees and are syndicated nationally. The show has evolved from just being golf talk into a 2 hour lifestyle/travel, health/wellness, celebrity, wine, beer, food, travel, destination, resort show. According to Al, "It's all about the finer things in life."
The Tee It Up Radio Network reaches millions of golf and travel enthusiasts across the US including Hawaii and Canada.
Al Gottfried's relationship with Reyes Winery developed over the last year and a half, with remote broadcasts of the show from the winery, and that led to an exclusive marketing deal with Reyes Winery. Tee It Up will be making Reyes wines available to their radio audience directly via their website, through retailers, and through events like their celebrity golf tournament at Mountain Gate Country Club in Sherman Oaks. They hold this golf event every year to raise money for the wounded warrior project.

The teeitup Label will offer these two red wines:

2011 Teeitup Blend ($18)
This is a blend of 58% California Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Merlot. It has a rich ruby red color with aromas of plum, dark cherries and a hint of cocoa. On the palate you get a continuity of its delectable aromas. Enjoy this enchanting wine with Beef Bourguignon. This wine blend scored very highly out of 30 blends in
three consecutive wine tastings (guys night at Reyes winery and two other tastings).

2011 Syrah ($22)

“This is the one!” This is the right fusion of 80% Reyes 2011 Estate Syrah and 20% Syrah from Davis. This wine has a flavor profile of blackberries, a touch of black pepper, a slight smokiness and great balance. It pairs really well with lamb prepared in just about any form. You’d think this wine has been made for lamb.

I have to say that I tried these two wines last weekend and I think it's great that the back labels have tasting and pairing notes!  I remember many wines doing this a long time ago, but tasting notes on a label are few and far between these days.

I noticed that the 2011 Teeitup Blend actually did have aromas of plum, dark cherries, and a hint of cocoa.  And they were obvious on the palate too.  I like this wine the best of the two, but I think if it had just a little less cherry taste I'd like it even more.

The 2011 Syrah was also right on with the blackberries, black pepper and smokiness on the palate, but I didn't notice the blackberries or the black pepper in the nose. Could be me. I did notice the smokiness in the nose and I think it was a little more than "slight."

Both wines are reasonably priced when you look at average prices of comparable wines in the upper $30 and $40 range.  I was surprised that the Teeitup Blend didn't cost more than the Syrah.

So not having any Beef Bourguignon or Lamb dishes available I tried both of these wines with a New York strip steak.  They went well together.  The real question for golfers is, do you drink the Teeitup Blend with a burger and the Syrah with the hot dog at the turn, or the other way around?  They probably need to add a Chardonnay for the tuna fish sandwich too.
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

California Welcome Center Opening

Welcome to the California Welcome Center!

The California Welcome Center celebrated their move to The Collection at Riverpark with a reception featuring Ventura County Wine Trail wines and delicious appetizers from local restaurants. About 80 people from local media, the welcome center, and city and county government attended the opening last Wednesday.  

The new welcome center is the first in California to offer wine tasting and the hundred thousand plus tourists that visit the center annually will be able to taste local wines every day of the week from 9 am to 7 pm. 

The shiny new Wine Emotion dispensing systems are from Firenze, Italy, and the two systems hold a total of thirteen wine bottles.
The 'QUATTRO+4' dispenser holds 8 bottles, with different temperature controls for red and white wines, and the 'CINQUE' model holds 5 bottles.

The food from Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen and nearby restaurants was as good tasting as it was good looking.  I especially enjoyed the spicy tuna and pork appetizers from Kabuki Japanese Restaurant.
The Ventura County Wine Trail's Lauren Belshe at the new dispensing system. They weren't activated for the event, but will be in operation soon.
Chris Brown, Joe Hurliman, and Karen Stewart poured their wines from Cantara Cellars, Herzog Wine Cellars & Eagle's Landing (Joe Hurliman's private label), and Four Brix Winery.  Joseph Herzog, the impetus behind getting wines from Ventura into the welcome center, and friends in the soon-to-be popular wine corner.
Also pouring wines were Rancho Ventavo Cellars, Plan B Wine Cellars, Magnavino Cellars, and Panaro Brothers Winery.

Susan Smith, President/CEO of Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau, introduced the center and the key people supporting it.
Karin Fish, VP External Relations for Visit California, talked about the future of the welcome center and its ground-breaking wine tasting feature.
Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza presented Susan with a certificate.

Live 805 hosts Sandy Seekins & Tom Hilton (aka Tom & Sandy) never miss a local wine event.
Tom & Sandy not only enjoy tasting and talking about local wines, they're also partners with Four Brix Winery in a new label called 'BlendZ.'

The wines being poured were all very good, although a little short on white wine selection. 
Cantara Cellars 2011 Chardonnay was a perfect wine to start the tasting.  A few new wines (to me anyway) were the Eagles Landing 2012 Syrah, which isn't released yet, and the Plan B Wine Cellars 2011 GSM. I thought they were both surprisingly good!
With a rotation of Ventura County Wine Trail wines like those poured at the opening, this techno tasting room should be a great place for visitors and locals to explore what's happening with California wines.  And it's a nice detour if you're shopping or dining at some of the fine restaurants at The Collection.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ventura County's Wine Experience Continues to Grow!

The California Welcome Center of Oxnard is moving to The Collection at Riverpark in December. This is good news, because their new location will be offering Ventura County wine tasting via automated wine dispensing stations. Selecting wines from one of the two stations won't be quite the same as meeting and talking with the winemakers, but it might interest people in visiting Ventura County wineries. And future meet-and-greet the winemaker events at the center are planned as well. There will be one machine with eight wine dispensers and a second with five wine dispensers. 
Featured wines will showcase the winemaking capabilities of the Ventura County Wine Trail. These fine wines will be rotated, so there will always be something new to taste for those of us who live locally and may be interested in a wine break while shopping at The Collection at Riverpark.

The boutique wineries of Ventura County source grapes from nearly every major wine growing region in California--from Napa Valley to Santa Barbara; so visitors to the area can taste their way through California wine country without even making a road trip!

The California Welcome Center's new location will be at 2786 Seaglass Way, near the corner of Clyde River Place, on restaurant row across from the YardHouse. 

View from the YardHouse
Wine tasting samples for $4 (tickets) will be available to the public starting on December 5th. The center is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and will offer wines from the area’s leading purveyors. 

In addition to tasting the wines being (automatically) poured, bottles of the wines that are featured will also be available for purchase. Hmmm… purchasing local wines, walking next door to local restaurants, maybe they'll waive the corkage fees?

Where: The California Welcome Center Oxnard
The Collection at Riverpark
2786 Seaglass Way
Oxnard, CA 93036
Call: (805) 988-0717
Click: www.visitcalifornia.com/California-Welcome-Centers/Oxnard
Email: info.oxnard@visitcwc.co
Open 7 days a week 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Read the complete press release from the Ventura County Wine Trail here.

Ventura County Wine Trail Wineries:

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reyes Bottling Event 2013

Reyes Winery, home of the first annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival, bottled their new blends recently: Robby's Blend, Julia's Blend, and Renaissance Les Deux Rois. 
Also bottling Harris Vineyard and Stephen Hemmert wines. All to the tunes of Sierra Highway.

Reyes Winery always has great wine, food and music at their events in scenic Agua Dulce.


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

FFWS Launch Party

Foley Food & Wine Society Launch Party

 September 28, 2013 at the Bacara Resort & Spa

It was perfect day to drive your Ferrari to Santa Barbara (or any other car without racing numbers on it to Goleta) for this premier food and wine event at Bacara.

The new Foley Food & Wine Society Wine Tasting Room at Bacara is a great addition to the resort. If guests don't have time to visit the nearby wineries they can taste wines or purchase them right there; and the drive back to their room is a short one!
The Foley Food and Wine Society celebrated their new partnership with the local TV show "The Inn Crowd with Chef Budi Kazali" on KEYT-TV.  The VIP gathering in the tasting room preceded the launch party and it included sponsors of the show. We were greeted  by Joseph Foss, Director of Hospitality, and Andrea Smalling, Chief Marketing Officer at Foley Family Wines.
Bill Foley and Chef Budi Kazali of The INN Crowd talked with partners from KEYT-TV and greeted other guests.
Ira Distenfield and Bill Foley talked about the new partnership between the Inn Crowd and the Foley Food and Wine Society. Ira Distenfield is one of the co-founders of the "We The People" franchise, an alternative source for processing simple legal documents, and an Executive Producer (along with Craig Case) of The Inn Crowd with Chef Budi Kazali.

According to Bill Foley's estimate the food and wine event sold all 1200 planned tickets plus another 50-100.  So we were lucky to actually park at Bacara and skip the shuttle buses from the remote parking lot.  Our friends  confirmed this after the event when we drove them back to their car.
Devon and I managed to sample 29 of the 38 Foley Family Wines poured in the VIP Private Reception at the tasting room and at the Launch Party that was held in the Director's Lounge, the Ballroom and the Ballroom Terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The wines we tasted included:

Did I say "we?"  Well, Devon tasted a few white wines and I sampled most of the rest.   :-)

Director's Lounge
I took these pictures before the tasting started and it became very popular (crowded).

Lancaster Estate Winery, Kuleto Estate and Firestone Vineyard

Kuleto Estate, Altvs and Merus
We initially skipped the Director's Lounge Exclusive Tasting in search of some white wines to start our tasting. The lines for these exclusive wines were a little long anyway.  No surprise--the lines were even longer when I returned about a half an hour later.  The three wines I managed to taste (*see list below) were all very good, especially the small amount of Merus.  And all were priced a little above my budget, if they were available at all.  I guess that's why they're 'exclusive' wines!
An extra bar stocked with these exclusive wines would have made a great additional tasting location.
Kuleto Estate, 2008 Lone Acre Cabernet Sauvignon

Merus, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

The list of exclusive wines included:

Altvs, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($75)

*Kuleto Estate, 2008 Lone Acre Cabernet Sauvignon ($90)

*Lancaster Estate Winery, 2010 Nicole's Proprietary Red ($115)

*Merus, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon ($145)

Firestone Vineyard, 2012 Proximity Twenty Six, Red Wine Barrel Blend (
unreleased - no price available)

Ballroom & Terrace Tasting

On the Terrace...
A great place to taste wine overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Parallel pours of the Langtry 2008 Petite Sirah and 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Lillie Vineyard.

I liked the Langtry 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Lillie Vineyard best.
A vertical pour of Three Rivers Winery 2011 Chardonnay.

In the Ballroom...
A great place to taste wine and listen to music from the Justin Claveria Quartet.
 Click here for video of the Justin Claveria Quartet.

The Roth Estate 2011 Heritage is based on Alexander Valley Merlot.

Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery poured a 2012 Roussanne and two reds: a 2009 Barbera, Sonoma Valley and a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. I thought all three were very good.

Lancaster Estate Winery poured a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2010 Sophia's Hillside Cuveé in the ballroom.  I liked the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon best.
Chalk Hill Estate Winery poured a 2011 Chardonnay, a 2010 Viognier and a 2010 Estate Red. I've been a fan of Chalk Hill in the past and both their white and red wines continue to rank highly on my list.

Kuleto Estate poured a very nice 2010 Zinfandel in the ballroom, in addition to the equally fine 2008 Lone Acre Cabernet Sauvignon in the Director's Lounge Exclusive Tasting.

Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery poured their 2011 Chardonnay and a 2011 Two Sisters Chardonnay. The reds included a 2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills and a 2011 Two Sisters Pinot Noir. In both cases we liked the Two Sisters better.
I enjoyed comparing the Foley Estates Pinot Noir with the Lincourt 2010 Pinot Noir, Lindsay's Vineyard.  It was interesting that these were the only Pinot Noir wines available for tasting.  I'm used to encountering lots of Pinot Noir at wine events; I guess this was a good break with a variety of other reds.
Leslie Thomas, of WineDineDesign, tasting some Lincourt wine poured by Courtney Foley.  
(Is it dark in here or is it just a perfect exposure of the image on the ubiquitous flat screens promoting the Inn Crowd? And I thought my light meter was targeting the wine glass! Oh well, see my earlier post: Winter Wine Classic, Santa Barbara, 2013, picture #11.)
Foley Johnson Winery had a very nice 2009 Handmade Cabernet Sauvignon available. With the $150 retail price it seems like this wine could have been poured with the exclusive wines in the Director's Lounge, but I'm glad it wasn't!

Joseph Foss poured a very professional taste of Foley Johnson's 2009 Handmade Cabernet Sauvignon. 
Firestone Vineyard & Winery red wines were all very enjoyable: 2010 Chairman's Series Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Syrah-Clone 174, and 2011 Syrah. My favorite was the 2010 Syrah-Clone 174.

EOS 2009 Zinfandel Port went very well with the raspberry covered brownie!
The following wines are those that I tasted and liked the best.  I ranked them based on my tasting score for each wine and factored in their retail price (so they are not just ranked by price, although it almost appears that way).


We thoroughly enjoyed sampling the food provided in the tasting room, the Ballroom and on the Terrace.

Chef Michael Hutchings--Michael's Catering--served Potato Cakes with Caviar.  We sampled these with Langtry's Sauvignon Blanc, Lillie Vineyard and they were delicious. Unfortunately, the first batch was a little bit underdone and gooey when picked up. Devon tried another one later and it was thoroughly cooked though.
Chef Diana Cuttrel--Dining with Di--served Gorgonzola & Goat Cheese Tartlet with Fig Butter topped with Fresh Fig, Honey Walnuts & Micro Greens. I tasted this ornate tartlet while enjoying  Three Rivers Chardonnay. We were told it would pair nicely with many different types of wines and I imagine it would.  If I'd had my own personal platter I would have researched this concept further, but I had to leave some for everyone else.

Chef Stephane Rapp--School of Culinary Arts at City College served Smoked Salmon Caviar & Crème Fraiche on Endive Barquettes (Barquettes is French for 'trays').  They looked wonderful, but I'm not a salmon fan. :-(
Now we're talkin'--some hearty tri-tip sliders with your choice of picante or creamy horseradish sauce.  I tried it both ways and it was a draw! And they went well with most of the red wine being poured, I especially liked the Sebastiani 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley with it.

Chef Johan Denizot created a Kobocha Pumpkin Ravioli with Laquered Duck Confit, Rainbow Swiss Chard and Pamigiano-Reggiano. It was the best ravioli I've ever had!
Source: chicagotribune.com & Bacara website
Chef Chris Turano's Barolo Braised Short Ribs of Beef with Cauliflower Purèe and Petit Arugula was such an awesome dish I forgot to take a picture of it!  It was amazingly tender and I could cut the short rib with a fork. Now I know why he's the winner of the Food Network "Chef Wanted" show. 

Don't worry, if you missed Foley Food & Wine Society launch party you can always take the "Foley Food & Wine Society Tour" of Firestone, Foley and Lincourt--it's listed on Bacara's website.
Photo by Richard Salzberg
Getting ready to leave in my lowly Lexus IS250 and I'm looking in my wallet for a few hundred dollars to bribe the valet to swap for a Ferrari.  That would have made it a very fast Taste N Trip!
Photo by Richard Salzberg
I hope there's a repeat of this event next year!  And I'll be sure to rent a Ferrari to get one of the premium parking spots.

A special thanks to the Foley Family Wine group for giving Taste N Trip media access!


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