Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ojai Wine Festival 2014

The 28th Annual Ojai Wine Festival
The Ojai Wine Festival is one of my favorite venues. It's located on Lake Casitas and it's a perfect site for outdoor wine tasting and live music. The layout works very well with a large VIP tent area, general tasting areas along a small hillside, arts & crafts vendors, food vendors, bandstand & dance floor, and a sprawling lawn chair area. Unlike many other festivals this is truly a wine festival, not a wine & food festival, unless you buy a VIP ticket. So you can find great food in the VIP tent or buy some from the food vendors.
Getting to the festival is very easy from Ojai where buses pick you up at designated trolley stops. Last year the Pirie/Nordhoff stop worked perfectly for me. This year the 10:35 am bus arrived at 11:30 am and the driver thought another bus had already been through. Having stood at the trolley stop since 9:45 am I was pretty sure there wasn't an earlier bus. So getting to the festival for the early 11:30 VIP admission can be a kind of tricky if you rely on the free bus. Well, it's free anyway... 
Then again, maybe the signs were part of the problem, but this one was at the festival bus stop.
When you enter the festival as a VIP you're treated to some Barefoot Bubbly sparkling wine. I had the Brut Cuvée with a strawberry. 

VIP Tent 
The wine, whiskey, and beer in the VIP tent is good every year, as is the food.
My favorites are the sushi plates from Sakura Ojai Japanese Restaurant. In addition to being colorful, they taste great too.

Nobelle Wines 
I enjoyed all of these French-style Paso Robles wines from Nobelle.
2012 Belle Rivière Marsanne, Monterey County
2012 Ma Cherie Petite Sirah, Paso Robles
2012 Bisou Bisou Grenache Rosé, Paso Robles
2012 Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles
2012 Angèle 1589 Desert Marsanne, Monterey County
Diane Wachs and friends at Bianchi Winery.  Diane poured these fine wines...

Vino Vargas poured some excellent wines:
2013 Del Sol Roussanne
2012 Rio Ruso Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
2012 Toro Tinto Tempranillo, Lake County
2012 Matador Merlot
Ahh!  Cool wine! Lisa Stoll kept cool with her portable fan while pouring some Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Winery 2012 Hometown Pinot Noir.

Kate from Stella Artois was very busy serving beer in the VIP tent. 

 Plan B Wine Cellars
Cathy Pantess (on right) from San Vicente Cellars poured a nice 2009 Tannat, Paso Robles.
Cool Paulo of the Wine Snobs Meetup group is at all of the good events!

Lone Madrone poured a nice 2010 Tannat, Paso Robles.
Alta Colina Vineyard poured their 2 Estate Syrahs--2010 Old 900 and 2011 Toasted Slope. I've always liked both, with the earthier Old 900 edging out the Toasted Slope by a little bit.
Cass Winery poured a nice 2011 Syrah Desert Wine.  
 Oak Ridge Winery poured a nice 2013 Old Soul Pinot Noir.
Tablas Creek Vineyard poured some very good wines:
2013 Patelin de Tablas Blanc
2013 Patelin de Tablas Rosé
2011 Esprit de Tablas Blanc
Sgt. Pepper opened with music by the Beatles and other British Invasion artists.


 A local Ojai winery--Boccali Vineyard & Winery.
Cottonwood Canyon’s wines were very good, as usual.  I was impressed with how their 2001 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley aged well.

Even without orange sunglasses, this was a nice surprise--Ousterhout Wine & Vineyard. These were excellent:
2011 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, Bradford Mountain, Grist Vineyard
2011 Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, Nance’s Vineyard
August Ridge Vineyards poured some great Italian-style wines:
2010 Barbera, Paso Robles, Kokopelli Vineyards
2010 Rocco's Red (38% Sangiovese, 38% Barbera, 12% Primitivo, 12% Nebbiolo)
2009 Sangiovese
Toucan Wines ("...with grapes this BIG!") Doug Timewell poured a very nice 2011 Old Vine Carignane, Contra Costa.
Golden Road Heal the Bay IPA
Firestone Walker Easy Jack IPA
 Le Vigne Winery / Kiara
Edouard Giessinger poured Giessinger Winery’s 2013 Malbec, Sierra Foothils.

 Jettlynn Winery
Frolicking with Frolicking Frog Wines.
Kristy & Grant Ellison selling the only Ojai tasting guide--Ojai Wines & Vines. It's a wonderful collection of photographs and detailed information about the vineyards and wineries in Ojai. Written by author Kristine Ellison.

Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries got the crowd on their feet and dancing!

 Tim Gandy poured Magnavino Cellars 2012 Pinot Gris, Lodi Appellation.
Gary Stewart from Four Brix Winery illustrated some target marketing and poured his Four Brix 2010 Rhondezvous, Paso Robles (47% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, 13% Counoise). Great blend!

Once again there were so many wines to sample that I'm sure I missed some real gems.  This year I was happy to taste August Ridge Vineyards, Ousterhout Wine & Vineyard, and Vino Vargas for the first time. It was another great wine festival at Lake Casitas!  And the bus going back was on time too.
Photo by Kristine Ellison

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