Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival 2014

The Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association held its 2nd Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival on April 26th. Tent-like booths of wineries, breweries, food vendors, arts & craft vendors lined the entrance to Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce. In front of the winery a stage with three different musical acts entertained the festival-goers.
The Sierra Pelona Valley is a nice background for the 2014 souvenir glass. This is the first time I've ever noticed the blue sky and clouds reflected by a red wine.  In this case, the wine is a 2012 Harris Vineyard & Winery Syrah.
The Reyes vineyards are some of the most scenic in the area.
The weather was nice with moderate temperatures, a clear sky with some puffy clouds, and a little windy, as usual. All-in-all a perfect day for wine and food tasting while listening to some great music.
As I entered the festival I ran into Eve Bushman of Eve's Wine 101 with Murray Wood of College of the Canyons Culinary Arts Capital Campaign and Amanda Benson, Business Travel Manager, Hyatt Regency Valencia.  A donation from the festival will benefit the Institute for Culinary Education at College of the Canyons and will help them with consolidate their three separate facilities to a permanent facility on the Valencia campus.
Matthew Booth from the College of the Canyons Culinary Arts program poured Harris and Reyes wines in the VIP area.  We started our wine tasting here with the 2012 Reyes Chardonnay.
I also tasted some of the red wines in this great line-up: a 2011 Reyes Quinn's Zin, a 2011 Reyes Merlot, and a 2012 Harris Vineyard & Winery Syrah.  I enjoyed the Merlot and Syrah the most.
Rare and chilled: the 2012 Rosa's Choice Rosé from Reyes Winery is a blend of Chardonnay, Muscat and Syrah. And despite these pictures, it does not turn your fingernails blue.

The climate in Agua Dulce is very dry with only about 22 days of precipitation in a year on average (and probably less in the current drought), so irrigation of the vineyards is crucial for a good yield.
And they're off!  Early festival-goers checking out the food and wine before the crowds arrived.
Food, wine, beer, spirits, art and cigars--something for everyone.
Pulchella Winery is a very popular wine and one of my favorites now for two years in a row.  I made sure to visit them first.  Their red wines from Paso Robles were all winners with me!  I tasted the Cab, Syrah and blends:
2012 “Distinguished” Cabernet Sauvignon
2012 “High & Lows” Syrah/Grenache
2012 “Relentless” Syrah
2012 “Awakening” Syrah/Petite Sirah

And the dragonfly label is cool too! (Libellula Pulchella is a common North American skimmer dragonfly.)
Due Nasi (Italian for Two Noses) is a hobby wine and they poured a nice 2013 Grenache from Los Olivos.
What the heck, a little light beer before tasting more wines can't hurt! I had a glass of Leffe Blond. Its a blond abbey beer made with a pale malt and it has a slight hint of hop bitterness (6.6%).  I liked it and they gave away a logo glass. Good marketing.
What the heck, a little hoppy beer before tasting more wines can't hurt... right!  Well I had to try the Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company's Desparado IPA anyway. Its an American style India Pale Ale brewed with Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus, and Falconer's Flight (a blend of unique hops from the Northwest, including Citra®, Simcoe®, and Sorachi Ace along with experimental hops and other NW varieties). It had 6.8% alcohol and 70 IBUs and it was great!  Now where's that water to rinse the beer out of my glass...
It turned out that there wasn't any water for rinsing glasses! Although there were drinking water bottles available they weren't very obvious either.  So I have a couple of rinses with San Antonio 2010 Heritage Blanc--and it was surprisingly good!  Even after the bitter hops taste wore off. I'm not a big fan of Sangria or Pinot Grigio, but the Maddalena 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 Zinfandel were both very good also.

The Reyes Winery table was well stocked with some of the wines that were at their VIP table.
Agua Dulce Winery's 2008 Zinfandel was still tasting very good!
The Gott Wine teeitup and the Short lil Bastard wines both had unique labels and were very good.  I especially liked the 2011 teeitup Blend (58% California Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Merlot) produced and bottled by Reyes Winery and the Short lil Bastard 2008 Napolean Complex (Bordeaux blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petite Verdot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, 2% Merlot) bottled by Leona Valley Winery.  You can read more about the teeitup wines in my 2013 review here. Speaking of Short lil Bastard, we missed Douglas Gould this year!

High Desert Cellars/Chavez Vineyards poured a nice 2010 California Syrah Rosé.
I tasted a very good 2011 Cabernet Franc at Antelope Valley Winery/Donato Family Vineyard.

Lee Williams of Golden Star Vineyards & Winery pour his award-winning Purple Haze (a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Malbec) as well as a 2012 Chardonnay, 2011 Merlot, 2012 Syrah, 2011 Zinfandel.  I'm still a big fan of the Purple Haze!
Some people methodically work their way around the tasting circuit and some just bounce around randomly like ping pong balls. It's a study in queue formation process. I try to avoid long lines for tasting and look for photo ops.
Well we're glad two people drank wine and a winemaker was born! Donna Harris had her trio of Harris Vineyard & Winery red wines available for tasting: 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Cabernet Franc, and 2012 Syrah. All were very good! And Devon liked the dry Sangria that Donna was testing out for a friend.  Kym Cappi of Kym’s Kreations created the Uncorked Kreation that Donna is holding.

Stephen Hemmert/The Oasis Vineyard poured his specialty--a 2010 Zinfandel.  Very good!
LA International Wine Competition had a full line-up of wines.
I was delighted to see Hearthstone Vineyard & Winery added to the line-up this year! I’d tasted their wines at festivals and visited their winery in Paso Robles last year during the Paso Robles wine festival in May. I liked the 2010 Pearl then and the 2012 was just as good.  Getting to their table late in the day I managed to get the last taste of Pearl and their Pinot Noir. 
The wines they poured included:
2012 Pearl (60% Roussanne, 40% Viognier)
2009 Fireside Claret, Paso Robles (
47.5% Cabernet Franc, 47.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot)
2009 Lodestone, Paso Robles (54% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 16% Mourvèdre)
2010 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles
2010 Syrah
Six Foaks wins the prize in the hobby wine maker category with the biggest selection and the best wines.  I liked their vertical of 2010-2012 Syrah and 2012 Cabernet. 
And they were very knowledgeable, friendly, and had great artwork on their labels painted by one of the Six Foaks.

Coruce Vineyards & Winery had some very good wines. Bruce and Wendie Marriott were pouring a 2012 Viognier, Central Coast/Bien Nacido Vineyard, a 2010 Syrah, Central Coast, and a 2009 Zinfandel (85% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah).
The VIP tent grilled chicken was a little smoky and very good. I went back for seconds.
Mickey's Momma's California Style Barbeque Sauces were back again this year with their tasty Lemon & Pineapple BBQ sauce and a Teriyaki & Peppercorn BBQ sauce that had Jack Daniels in it.  Last year we bought a bottle of each, but this year we didn't make that mistake, we bought two bottles of each! They're GREAT!
Le Chene French Cuisine served Chef Juan Alonso’s salmon cakes.
Rattler's BBQ served BBQ, garlic rolls, cole slaw and mashed potatoes--now that's a LUNCH!  And it went well with my Maddalena Cabernet Sauvignon.
Porto's Bakery & Cafe served several fantastic filled pastries.
Vincent Hill Station Restaurant & Saloon served ribs and pasta--another LUNCH award!
Tochigan Farms Salsa samples tasted great and fresh and the HOT was pretty good.  We bought some HOT and when I tried it at home it seemed VERY HOT, but still great!  And my sinuses have been very clear...
This year the truffles from Truffles n Toffee were even better (and less squirty) than the wine-filled ones they experimented with last year. Espresso and Raspberry were my two favorites.
Robert Reyes--Fine Art Painter, Vineyard Painter, Wine Maker, Dive Master, Certified Welder, General Contractor, Golfer.  Wow, what doesn't Robert do? His paintings were on display, but I don't think I've seen his welding yet...
Silvina Day Fine Art showed some very colorful and scenic prints.
Nice wine art by Hard Art/Michael Harder.
Loom in the Living Room/Linda Gue, hand weaver, makes original loom art like these colorful scarves.
Patina Soul makes very interesting candle holders. (A suggestion for next year is to fill those bottles with sand, so they don't blow off the table again when the winds pick up.)
Rui Wu of the Chinese Daily News (left) and friends.
A fun group pose.
Best tattoo with wine.
Robert Reyes (center) finishes his last winery tour of the day.
Luis from M Cigars was rolling some fine cigars with Nicaraguan tobacco.
Synchronized cigar smoking trio puffs up a cloud near the Leffe, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden beer tent.
The Still Moving Project played their original music with a unique blend of melodic rock-country-folk-jazz. 
Jon Stephen, Nuevo Flamenco Guitarist, played his own genre of Tropical Brazilian Guitar.
Lauren Koval, jazz vocalist, with the Paul McDonald Trio, performed Latin Jazz & Standards from the Great American Songbook.
Quattro, the 2013 Latin Jazz Grammy Nominee for Best New Artist, played their Latin-Pop-Jazz-Classical blend that’s in their debut album "POPZZICAL.” The band is Giovanna Clayton on Cello and vocals; Lisa Dondlinger on Violin and vocals; Kay-ta Matsuno on Guitar and vocals; and Jorge Villanueva on Percussion and vocals. Listen to their introduction and first song here.

The clouds increased a little at the end of the day and it looked dramatic over the tents.
I'm always glad to be at any Reyes Winery event and I'm glad that they spelled my name right!

More Narrative pictures on the Taste N Trip Facebook Page.


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