Thursday, June 13, 2013


8th Annual LA WineFest
Raleigh Studios, CA
Raleigh Studios hosted the annual LA Wine Festival with champagne, wine, spirits, beer, food, cigars and boutiques.  It was held on Saturday and Sunday last weekend and I attended on Saturday.
According to LA WINEFEST Founder & CEO Joel Fisher (seated on left above), proceeds were donated to Food Forward, the charity beneficiary this year.  Food Forward is a grassroots volunteer organization in Southern California that harvests local backyard fruit for the hungry.

I started my exploration of taste this year with an iced coffee from Grand Avenue Specialty Coffees and Teas, plus a bite to eat at Hot's Kitchen.  Two Lamb Taquitos marinaded in IPA with yogurt dip were tasty.
Throughout the day I enjoyed ice cold water from Iceland’s legendary Ölfus Spring by Icelandic Glacial Water. Hydration before lubrication!  

At this point I also tried some anti-hangover BluCetin tablets.  You chew 2 tablets before drinking and 2 afterwards for maximum effect.  They contain a patented natural ingredient that has been proven to be an efficient way to reduce the negative symptoms of alcohol in recent animal studies. Wait a minute! Animals drink alcohol?  Wonder if they like red or white wine best? The story is that laboratory rats (that were over 21) were given excessive alcohol and put into little hammocks. Afterwards, the time it took these blitzed rats to get up out of their hammocks was 10 times quicker if they they took BluCetin than the rats that were not given it. Coincidentally, the next morning I found myself springing out of my hammock quicker than most rats! The weird flavor of these tablets is not something I'd want to experience before wine tasting again though.
Sweet Arleen's cupcake truck was selling four-packs of cupcakes, and they were a hit with this foursome.

Gourmet Blends: Providing the Best Balsamic Vinegar EVER! And The Most Delicious Gourmet Olive Oils.

The Chocolate Traveler had some nice chocolates, especially the TABASCO® Brand Dark Spicy Chocolate Wedges! And they were conveniently located next to Roxo Port Cellars--a great pairing.

The biggest beer exhibitor with the biggest beer glass was the Stella Artois Beer Garden.
I enjoyed a glass of the Karl Strauss Pintail Pale Ale.
Notice my "Taste N Trip" engraved glass done by artist-at-large Tom Bwarie/Signature Hand Engraving (which means done by hand, not engraving on your hand).  Pretty cool looking and I didn't get it mixed up with any other glasses while tasting.

Phantom Rivers Winery poured whites and reds, I only got a chance to taste their white wines:
- 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Valley View, Santa Ynez
- 2009 Chardonnay, Edna Valley
- 2011 Luna Rosa - a dry Zin blush

The Ventura County Winery Association had a very popular booth where they poured a variety of wines from the association...
- Cantara 2011 Chardonnay
- Cantara 2009 Grenache
- Cantara 2009 Tempranillo
- Four Brix 2012 Smitten Viognier
- Magnavino 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Magnavino 2010 Syrah
- Plan B Cellars 2010 Shiraz
I spent a little time at this booth and helped pour some wine.  It was a great opportunity to taste Ventura County wines and watch others as they enjoyed these wines too.  I was familiar with most of the wines being poured, with the exception of the Shiraz from Plan B, and I thought they were some of the best examples of wines made by these Ventura County wineries. 
Directly across from the booth was the musical entertainment -- Sazón. I recorded some scenes from the booth and the music they were playing.  Just click on this LA WINEFEST 2013 YouTube link to view it.

At Cielo Malibu Estate Wineyards I tried their white wines:
- 2009 White Rabbit Chardonnay, Napa
- 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
- 2011 Grenache Rosé
I like their red wines best.
San Antonio Winery had these brands available for tasting:
- Bow Tie - fresh red wines from California and Italy
- Maddelena - exceptional Cabernets, Chardonnays and Zins
- San Simeon - outstanding Pinots, Syrahs and Chardonnays from Monterrey and Arroyo Seco regions.

Marisco Vineyards from New Zealand poured a line-up of wines branded "The Ned" and I heard several people comment favorably about them.  I attempted to taste their wines at 3 different times, but each time they were very busy and seemed to be chatting a little too long for my schedule.  Or maybe they were chatting a little too long and that made it look busy?  Either way, it remains a mystery wine...

Deutsch Family Wines & Spirits poured these wines:
- 2011 George DuBoeuf Macon-Villages Chardonnay
- 2010 George DuBoeuf Beaujolais Villages
- 2010 HobNob Wines Chardonnay (they have a trendy marketing approach on their website, but it didn't taste very good in my opinion).

Reyes Winery from Agua Dulce poured some nice red wines:
- 2010 Cabernet
- 2010 Merlot
- 2010 Syrah

 J. Hamilton Wines attracted a crowd with blended wines.

I tried the white wines at Rosenthal Estate Winery:
- 2011 Surfrider Albariño, Edna Valley
- 2009 Rosenthal Chardonnay
They were both very good and my favorite was the Albariño.
After tasting at Rosenthal I found the VIP Garden right behind them.  It was a nice break from the crowds with some great wines...

My first VIP tasting was at Devaux Champange, from the heart of the Champagne region. I was impressed by their 3D "D" logo around the bottles.  
The fun champagne that I tasted included:
- Grande Reserve (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay)
- Cuvée D (60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay)
- Vintage 2002 (50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay)
- D Rosé (50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay)
They were all excellent! Although my least favorite style was the Rosé.

Ahnfeldt Wines were poured in the VIP area too.  I was told the famous Paul Hobbs was the winemaker of these two wines:
- 2010 Merlot, Napa Valley (100% Merlot)
- 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley  (100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
And they were both excellent!  I was starting to really enjoy the VIP wine tasting.  
Some very good wines from Cantara Cellars were being poured as well (other than the ones being poured with the Ventura County Winery Association): 
- 2010 Frankenvine (Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Old Vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Malbec)
- 2010 Intrepid (67% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc)
(I just bought some of the Frankenvine and their Chardonnay today.)
I was glad to see Harris Vineyard & Winery and Reyes Winery pouring their wines in the VIP Area.
I tasted these Harris red wines:
- 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2011 Petit Verdot
- 2011 Cabernet Franc
Donna Harris, the owner/winemaker, was experimenting with custom blends and mixed one on the spot for me; it contained about 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, and 20% Cabernet Franc. It was very good! And unique! It's great to see a new winery with good quality wines exploring blending possibilities.
Photo by Donna Harris

Roxo Port Cellars poured their great port wines:
- 2008 Paso Melange (54% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petite Sirah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2008 Ruby Tradicional (35% Touriga Nacional, 35% Tinta Roriz, 16% Souzao, 14% Bastardo)
- 2008 Magia Preta  (Black Magic in Portugese, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Syrah)
My favorite is the Magia Preta (Black Magic in Portugese).


Luis Mejia, of M Cigars, was rolling and smoking cigars.
The SwisherXtreme Event Sweeties couldn't unwrap their cigars.

 Everybody had a good time...

Dancing to the music performed by Sazón, a Los Angeles-based group with Latin roots, playing an eclectic fusion of Nuevo-Flamenco and Jazz. Click here for a short YouTube video.

It was a "GRAND VENUE" whether people were drinking coffee, tea, wine, beer, or spirits.

And if you're interested in more information about the Central Coast and Northern California Wine Country, you might consider taking a tour with Dr. Joel Fisher, Founder & CEO of the LA WineFest.  Contact Willett Travel about their Fall 2013 "Tour the Wine Country of Central & Northern California" opportunity and tell them Taste N Trip sent you :-)