Tuesday, June 10, 2014

LA WineFest 2014

The 9th Annual LA WineFest
at Raleigh Studios, CA

The last Saturday in May I caught a ride with Mike Brown of Cantara Cellars (Ventura County Winery Association) so I arrived at the LA Wine Fest a little early.
And I was glad I did arrive early because it gave me an opportunity to chat with festival organizer Joel Fisher, PhD.
In between Joel’s directing all sorts of operational activities, he mentioned that the 2 day event had a good list of exhibitors, he was expecting a great turn-out, and that would mean good results for the  charitable beneficiary, Make-A-Wish® Foundation of Greater Los Angeles.

Raleigh Studios at 5300 Melrose is a nice LA venue with ample parking across the street.  Some even get to park inside on the studio lot, but don’t try parking in Detective Lieutenant Provenza’s parking space … that would be a MAJOR CRIME!
Once past the main entrance I saw the colorful Handwoven Original Art by Linda Gue and Heirloom Baskets by Ronald Gue.
It was nice talking to Linda about her handwoven creations, but it was warm and I was thirsty for a beer to start my tasting day. The Stella Artois beer garden was hard to miss with its red logo, red tables, and friendly staff.
The beers on tap included Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, and Leffe Blond. I enjoyed the lighter Leffe Blond.
Enjoying the red wine at the red tables.
Happy tie-dyed VIP trio.
Eddie and Eve Bushman (Eve's Wine 101) starting out with a few tastes.  You can find all of the stuff that I missed on Eve's blog.
A little shot of the spicy Dirty Tequila, or a Dirty Rita, or both, were a good way to chase the beer.  Arizona bartender George Duerr  developed his tequila by mixing pineapple juice and cinnamon with tequila. The Dirty Rita was very good!
I liked both Korean rice beers from Kooksoondang Brewing. The first one I tasted was the fresh Draft Makkoli--an unfiltered and unpasteurized drink and the second was the Sterilized Makkoli--the same drink only pasteurized. A variety of other flavors were available too.
Santé Nuts was conveniently located next to Kooksoondang Brewing, so I celebrated life and tasted their Cardamom Cashews, Garlic Almonds, and the Sweet & Spicy Pecans. All were great! I think they may have neutralized the spicy tequila and rice beer…
The Ventura County Winery Association poured a representative group of wines from Magnavino Cellars, Cantara Cellars, Sunland Vintage Cellars, Four Brix Winery, and Alma Sol Winery.  All are very good!
Ryan Messina of Jada Vineyard & Winery poured some excellent red wines and I was happy to discover them!
2012 XCV, Jada Vineyard, Paso Robles - Unfiltered White Rhone Blend (41% Estate Roussanne, 37% Estate Grenache Blanc, 22% Estate Viognier)

2011 Hell's Kitchen, Jada Vineyard, Paso Robles (42% Estate Tannat, 20% Estate Syrah, 19% Estate Mourvedre, 19% Estate Grenache)

2010 Jersey Girl, Jada Vineyard, Paso Robles - Estate Syrah

2010 Malstria, Jada Vineyard, Paso Robles (32% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Estate Syrah, 26% Estate Merlot, 6% Estate Petit Verdot, 4% Estate Tannat)

2010 Jack of Hearts, Jada Vineyard, Paso Robles (64% Estate Petit Verdot, 36% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon).

And Eve of Eve's Wine 101 was right there getting the picture.

Another discovery for me was Casey Flat Ranch. Amanda Ackerman poured a variety of Casey Flat Ranch and Open Range wines:
2013 Casey Flat Ranch Viognier
2012 Open Range Sauvignon Blanc
2013 Casey Flat Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
2013 Casey Flat Ranch Rosé (100% Syrah)
2010 Open Range Red Wine (32% Syrah, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Petite Syrah, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 7% Mourvèdre)
2010 Casey Flat Ranch Estate Red Wine (44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah, 19% Cabernet Franc, 4% Mourvèdre).

My favorites were the 2013 CFR Viognier, the 2013 CFR Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2010 CFR Estate Red Wine.
The VIP area was guarded by Maya--the cheerful bouncer.
 
Located in the VIP area, the Josh Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was very good!
 And nicely chilled!

The Josh Cellars table was popular with these Sauvignon Blanc fans too.
The 2011 Beekeeper, Zinfandel, Madrone Spring, Rockpile, Sonoma County was interesting.
Reyes Winery was located near the VIP area as well as indside it.  The Sierra Pelona Vintners Association was in between these locations. You can read more about these wineries in my blog post about the Sierra Pelona Vintners Wine Festival.
Reyes Winery was showing off their award-winning wines and I  had a chance to taste their port style Agua Dulce Delight.
Pulchella Winery is a favorite of mine since I learned about them at the Sierra Pelona Vintners Festival a few years ago. They have a very nice Cab, Syrah, and a Syrah/Grenache blend from Paso Robles. The crowd was enjoying their wine too.
William Hirsh of Malibu Estate Cielo Wineyards had a new label called Bottle Rock (in addition to the Estate & Woodstock Collections).  The Bottle Rock wines included:
  • 2012 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Barbara County
  • 2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County
  • Anthem (red blend), Santa Barbara County (50% Petite Sirah, 50% Petite Verdot)
  • The Hook (red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Verdot), Napa Valley
  • 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Los Olivos, Gainey Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
Rosenthal poured some of their Malibu Estate and Surfrider wines.
J. Hamilton Wines poured some bubbly.
And Wilson Creek poured some Almond Champagne, plus other flavors like Orange and Peach.
Roxo Port Cellars poured their great port lineup--my favorite is the 2008 Magia Preta, Paso Robles (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Syrah).

Every year Tom Bwarie makes his Signature Hand Engraving available to personalize wine glasses. Looks like this is "Jackie's Vino."
It's great that everyone has a camera at wine festivals. In 2012 we took more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s every two minutes. Click here for more fun facts about the 3.8 trillion + pictures taken as of 2012. And this looks like a good one!

Amazing! The BevWizard INSTANT Whiskey Smoother really works!  I tried a sip of Jim Beam without it and then with it--smoother. It's like a wine aerator with magnets.
Del Frisco's Grille in Santa Monica served an Ahi Tuna Taco with Couscous.
It went well with Reyes Julia's Blend--a blend of Merlot and Syrah. 
Angel City Brewery poured some great Angeleno IPA. 
Dave's Killer Bread served some tasty bread. The Powerseed was great!
Enjoying some GARLIC expressions vinaigrette dressing on salad--made with fresh, whole garlic cloves, no preservatives or additives & cholesterol free. And it goes well with ANY wine!
Food trucks were everywhere.  This is The Grilled Cheese Truck.
The Tainamite Truck served food with a unique Asian taste.
The Border Grille Truck looked like a good option and I had a very tasty pork taco sample from General Manager Tony Sher and a killer burrito.
Setting up the cooking demo with Chef Tony Esnault, one of LA’s most successful French chefs.  Michelin star Chef Esnault blended classic French cuisine with Southern Californian produce.
Church & State’s mixologist Jon Navasartian followed the cooking demo with an artisanal cocktail session and created a seasonal libation.
Great music was performed by Sazón, a Los Angeles-based group with Latin roots. They played an eclectic fusion of Nuevo-Flamenco and Jazz.
Luis Mejia, of M Cigars, was rolling cigars and entertaining his fans. Luis makes great cigars that are smooth and last a long time!
While all of the wineries, breweries, and food vendors at the LA Wine Festival were very good again this year, the part that I liked the best was discovering new wineries. This year I was especially glad to taste the wines from Jada Vineyard & Winery, Casey Flat Ranch, and Josh Cellars. And I also thought the Korean rice beers from Kooksoondang Brewing were interesting and would be a refreshing summer beverage.

Cheers!
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