Thursday, May 28, 2015

California Jazz & Wine Fest 2015

The 4th Annual California Jazz & Wine Fest presented by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise was recently held at a new location, the Community Park in Thousand Oaks. This event contributes the proceeds to school music programs and other nonprofits.
When I arrived around noon I noticed the Westlake High School Jazz Band was already playing on the Main Stage. They sounded pretty good for a high school band. Watch them play on CoonToonStudios YouTube.
I picked up my festival glass and began with a tour of the local craft breweries. I visited the LAB Brewing Company at Twisted Oak Tavern, Firestone-Walker Brewing Company, Enegren Brewing Company, Surf Brewery, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and Aldabella Brewery. Aldabella’s Citra IPA, Firestone-Walker’s Union Jack, Figueroa Mountain’s Hoppy Poppy IPA, Surf’s South Swell Double IPA, Enegren’s Protector Imperial IPA, and the LAB’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout were all hoppy and bold favorites.
After a side trip to the Bistro Stage to catch the Barrelhouse Wailers perform I was able to sample some wines from Golden Star Vineyards - their Chardonnay, Antelope Valley, is very nice, the Purple Haze is a great Zin blend, and the Zinfandel from Paso Robles is good too.
In between catching the great musical acts I also I managed to taste these wines:
Squashed Grapes - Zinfandel
Malibu Estate Cielo Wineyards - Syrah
Sunland Vintage Winery/Giovinazzo - The Goddess (Tempranillo & Dolcetto), Sangiovese, and Old Vine Zinfandel
Panaro Brothers Winery - Dolcetto
Vinemark Cellars - Primitivo
Navarro Vineyards - Pinot Noir
ViñAlegre - Primitivo
Magnavino - Tré Gemmé (GSM).

It was good to see that a few different options were available with local spirits from Channel Islands Distillery Rum, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits and TeQava Tequila. And I noticed that the Ventura Limoncello Company had a large line of fans waiting to sample their Limoncello and Orangecello liqueurs. Unfortunately, I missed out on all of these tastings figuring that blending beer and wine were all I could tolerate.
The gourmet food trucks that circled their wagons around the park included Tokyo Doggie Style, The Surfer Taco, Slammin’ II Sliders, Cousins Maine Lobster, Belly BombZ, Sweet Arleen’s Cupcakes, Baby’s Badass Burgers, and The Grilled Cheese Truck. Lots of people appeared to be enjoying the various gourmet truck dining options.
The musical acts that I caught on the Main Stage and the Bistro Stage included:
Westlake High School Jazz Band
A very classy group of kids playing jazz like seasoned adults.

Oskar Cartaya and the Enclave with guest Justo Amario
Oskar is an awesome bass player and his friend, Justo, plays sax, flute, and clarinet. Together they’ve played with an extensive who’s who of jazz and pop.

Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band
Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band, a Grammy-winning, 18-member ensemble with virtuoso trumpet, saxophone, trombone and percussion players performed a mix of rock, blues, Latin and other musical styles. 

Barrelhouse Wailers
Playing Prohibition-era hot jazz and blues the Wailers sound like a time warp back to the 1920s & 1930s. Any band with a tuba and a resonator guitar has to be different!

Tony Ybarra & Friends
I’ve seen Tony perform by himself in quieter settings at wine festivals before, but when he’s teamed up with his friends they really kick it up a notch! His latin flavored music was hot, especially when he played along the other guitarist, who was no slouch himself!

Click here to play a short video of the musical acts I watched on stage with pictures from the fest.

Although I missed last year’s fest, it seems like this event is getting a little more together every year. I liked the new venue with a stage at each end, the wineries & breweries on one side, the food vendors on the other side, and the marketplace in one area near the main stage. I’ve had some of the food from the trucks before (Slammin’ Sliders & Cousins Maine Lobster), so I know they are very good quality. What I’m not so sure about is if the benefit of ordering what you want from the trucks, is better than getting smaller samples as part of the festival (probably with an increased ticket price). I’ve been to several festivals where the free food samples have run out very early, so that can be a problem too. It would be interesting to see if people prefer to pay for food samples in the ticket price or directly to the food vendor of their choice. I think sampling new gourmet treats are part of the fun at festivals, so I'd tend to vote that way.