I like a good challenge - especially one that involves food and wine!
The Paul Weitz Jazz Trio filled the ballroom with a nice jazz vibe to complement the wine and food.
The evening started with a festive glass of sparkling wine (Kosher Castell d’Olèrdola Semi Seco Cava) courtesy of Herzog Wine Cellars. And for the next two hours I sampled some inspired food and wine with about 300+ fellow tasting fans.
I planned to complete the circuit in the logical order of 1 through 12, but had a little trouble locating the team signs and tables in the crowds, so I just went with the flow while avoiding long lines.
The two teams where I encountered lines were Magnavino Cellars/C-Street Café and Alma Sol Winery/La Dolce Vita. Both were worth the wait though! C-Street Café created the best setting and food presentation – same as they did last year.
Don’t Forget To Vote!
Everyone who attended received one coupon to cast as a vote for their favorite team. After sampling the food and wine from all twelve teams, those that could still remember what they tasted could vote for the Peoples Award. A blind tasting panel of experts from local food and wine businesses decided which team won the Judges Award. I kept my own score, and same as last year, I didn’t agree with the Judges. The new Peoples Award results were different from the coupon vote I cast as well. What do I know? I may not have the same tasting perspective as the judges, or even the rest of the crowd, but I did tally up a complete list of relative rankings for all twelve teams. It was interesting that the team members that I ranked in first place last year - Rancho Ventavo and Aloha Steakhouse - were both in the top two teams that I picked this year! Well, at least I’m consistent!
The judges voted on a scale of 1 to 5 for food in the “Taste & Flavor” and “Creative Use of Ingredients” categories and for wine in the categories of “Taste & Aroma” and “Balance.” They also voted on a scale of 1 to 10 for the pairing of the food element(s) with the wine.
With all of these variables I needed a spreadsheet to tally up my ratings and didn't figure it all out until I got home. (Let me know if you want the details and I'll email them to you.) My top 5 ratings were very close and if there weren't criteria like "Creative Use of Ingredients" it would be impossible to choose a first place!
The winner of the Judges Award was the Bella Victorian Vineyards & Bistro team and the winner of the Peoples Award was Cantara Cellars & Twenty 88 team.
Ventura County Wine Trail's Lauren Belshe did a fine job of coordinating the whole event and the presentation ceremony with local radio celebs Tom & Sandy.
|Bella Victorian Vineyards & Bistro team|
|Cantara Cellars & Twenty 88 team|
|Rancho Ventavo Cellars|
|Hollywood Beach Wine Company|
After carefully considering the criteria for rating the food and wine I thought the Rancho Ventavo Cellars & Hollywood Beach Wine Company pairing was a winner - by a slim margin. Closely following was the Four Brix Winery & Aloha Steakhouse team in second place. And my third place choice was a 3-way tie of Alma Sol Winery & La Dolce Vita, Herzog Wine Cellars & Tierra Sur, and Magnavino Cellars & C-Street Café teams.
The evening of fine wine, tasty food, and cool jazz was very enjoyable and all the tasters were the real winners.
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Articles and photography in Calabasas Style magazine:
March/April - Exploring the Ventura County Wine Trail
July/August - Wine tasting in the Bu
September/October - Calabasas Food & Wine Festival, Malibu Beaches
November/December - Wine for Holiday Gatherings and Gifts