Monday, June 17, 2013

Ojai Wine Festival 2013

The 27th Annual
Ojai Wine Festival
Every year on the second Sunday in June you'll find a few thousand people enjoying wine and food at Lake Casitas in Ojai. The Ojai Wine Festival is run by the Rotary Club of Ojai-West and net proceeds go to aid Rotary Community Service Projects.
 The weather was perfect for a wine festival at Lake Casitas!
This year I decided stay at The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa so I could  take the free shuttle to the festival.  It was a short walk along the Ojai Valley Trail to the trolley stop on Maricopa Highway.
It's very easy to find the trolley stop and then catch the RoadRunner full-size bus to the festival.
Lake Casitas Recreation Area is one of the best venues I've ever visited for a wine festival! The coastal fog bank never quite makes it to the lake so it's free from the June gloom that's typical for this time of year.
The festival entrance even has a great view.
The VIP line was a nice way to start--with some sparkling wine and strawberries once you pick up your glass.
This is where I usually take a picture of lined up wine glasses, but this year I guess they were prepared for any earthquakes and still had them in boxes. 
Barefoot Cellars (owned by E&J Gallo) provided their Bubbly.
Two-handed pouring: a Brut Cuvée in the right hand and Red Moscato in the left hand. I went for the Brut Cuvée.
Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvée with a strawberry in the official festival glass.
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VIP Tent
The VIP Tent had some fantastic wine and food! I started wine tasting at Silver Wines and tried these:
- 2010 El Ojo Blanco Cuvée, Santa Barbara County
- 2009 Grenache Blanc, Santa Barbara County
- 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
- 2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara County

Benjamin Silver produces some very good wines from Santa Barbara County.

Margerum poured an interesting Rhone Blend called M5.  It's a Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend using five grape varieties from twelve of the highest quality vineyards in Santa Barbara County.

I was happy to see Hitching Post Wines pouring their other Pinot Noir wines. I had recently tasted their 2008 Perfect Set Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard, the week before at the Casa Pacifica Wine & Food Festival. The Hometown and Highliner were pretty good too!
- 2012 One Wine Rosé, Santa Barbara County
- 2010 Hometown Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
- 2010 Highliner Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
- 2010 Gen Red, Santa Barbara County

Bianchi Wines poured some nice red wines. I thought the Petite Sirah was very good.
- 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria
- 2010 Zinfandel, Paso Robles
- 2009 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles

Law Estate Wines was a very nice discovery, with GSM and more!  I enjoyed every one of their wines:
- 2010 Audacious (44% Grenache, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Petit Sirah)
- 2010 Sagacious (44% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre)
- 2010 Beguiling (94% Grenache, 6% Syrah)
- 2010 Intrepid (100% Syrah)

Huge Bear Wines poured their Sonoma County white and red wines:
- 2010 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
- 2010 Ursa Gigantes Red Blend, Sonoma County
- 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

The VIP food options were a real treat!
And I was ready for lunch. Over the years, I've manage to juggle a half-filled wine glass, a plate of food, and my camera fairly well--unless you include that one spill of some kind of white sauce on my camera lens last year at the Santa Barbara Vintners Festival.
Photography by Stephen Adams
So how is it that I have TWO plates in hand and NO food?  I think I picked up two by mistake and was returning one. Yeah, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!   
 I had some crackers and cheese...
and pizza--all very tasty!  And filling.

Festival Wines
Magnavino Cellars poured a favorite blend--their 2010 Magnatude Red Wine, Lodi (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah).

Vito Panaro, winemaker, of Panaro Brothers Winery poured his  2009 Pinot Noir, a 2008 Syrah, and a 2008 Merlot. I only had a chance to taste the Pinot Noir before I ran into the red hat gang.
 They can get pretty wild when they drink red wine...
And then they start recruiting members...

Ojai Wines & Vines had an attractive display.  Kristine Ellison's new guidebook, Ojai Wines & Vines - The Essential Guide, provides a historical background of winemaking in Ojai and an overview of the local wineries and vineyards in the area. 
Kristine showing off her newly published guidebook.  (Obviously, you'll have to buy a copy to see the Tasting Locations map.) Her documenting and photography of wines, vines, and vintners is superb!
Taste N Trip collaborators: Kim, Heather and Jake. 
 At Taste N Trip the future's so bright we gotta wear shades!

Alta Colina Vineyards & Winery pouring their great wines:
- 2012 Grenache Blanc
- 2012 12 O'Clock High (100% Viognier)
- 2010 GSM (45% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre), Paso Robles
- 2010 Toasted Slope Syrah (100% Syrah), Paso Robles
- 2010 Old 900 Syrah (100% Syrah), Paso Robles

Summerland poured a very good 2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County.

Jettlynn Winery poured some fantastic red wines:
- NV Mon Couer (34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Petit Verdot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Sirah, 11% Merlot, 4% Syrah)
- NV Opulent (33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Petit Sirah, 23% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 7% Petit Verdot).

Core Wine Company poured their awesome reds:
- 2008 SB Grenache, Santa Barabara County
- 2010 Grenach Blanc, Santa Barabara County, Camp 4 Vineyard
- 2008 Hard Core, Santa Barbara Highlands (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon).

Anglim Winery poured some great wines!
- 2010 Viognier Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
- 2009 Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills
- 20008 Grenache, Vista Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles
I don't see how you can go wrong with Bien Nacido and Fiddlestix vineyards.

Michael-David Winery poured several wines, but I liked the 2011 Earthquake, Lodi best.
Oh great, I can never remember which version has the e on the end, now there's a Petite Petit (85% Petite Sirah, 15% Petit Verdot).

J. Hamilton Wines poured some bubbly.

Calcareous Vineyard poured 3 wines:
- 2012 Lily Blanc (46% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 24% Marsanne), Paso Robles
- 2008 Tres Violet Syrah (The 2009 has 36% Mourvedre, 34% Syrah, 30% Grenache), Paso Robles
- 2010 Zinfandel, Paso Robles
My wife and I tasted the Lily Blanc in May at their tasting room and bought a bottle. The Zinfandel is my favorite overall, it's excellent!

The Cantara Cellars booth was mobbed and near a popular picture spot, but I was able to get in there and taste some Old Vine Zinfandel.  They were pouring:
- 2009 Grenache, Lodi
- 2009 Tempranillo, California
- 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel, Mohr-Fry Ranches®, Block 817, Mokelumne River, Lodi.

LeVigne Winery poured their Kiara whites and reds, plus a 2007 NIKIARA Meritage (53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Franc, 9.5% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot).  The Meritage was excellent!

The Music is always a big attraction at this festival. 
Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries was one of several acts that kept it rockin'.
 The joint was jumpin!
Goin crazy!
 With a popular dance floor.

What the veteran wine festival goer wears: maximum sun protection cowboy hat, wine glass eyewear, neck strap with wineglass holder, bright yellow clothes for easy identification, and a swinging smartphone camera.

It was a fantastic festival! Boat rides, music, dancing, and just relaxing.

For more
... visit the Ojai Wine Festival's website or the Ojai Visitors Bureau.

The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is convenient to the wine festival and about one mile from downtown Ojai.  It was a great place to have dinner and stay for the night.

Stephen Adams takes the best shots of all Ojai events - check out his website at (Gallery Password: Ojai) to see some fantastic pictures of the festival (Ojai Wine Festival 2013).
Horse sculpture on the Ojai Valley Trail headed back to The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

A Canna Lily at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

Wall flowers at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

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