Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ojai Wine Festival 2016

The Rotary Club of Ojai West always has a great festival. The festival’s net proceeds aid many Rotary Community Service Projects like science field trips, international projects to improve the environment, implement literacy programs, combat poverty, and eradicate polio worldwide.
Despite the challenges of the day and the cooler weather it was another successful festival to start off the third decade. The Barefoot Bubbly and strawberries poured at the VIP Grand Entrance is always festive and a photographic challenge. The new non-sponsor graphic on the back of the glass this year made it much easier to photograph.

The early entry VIP ticket allows people to enjoy the festival a little earlier and access to certain wineries and food in the VIP tent area. 
Whole Foods Market of Oxnard
La Piu Bella Tavola Italian Catering
Ojai Deer Lodge
Ojai Deer Lodge
The VIP access can be tricky at the beginning of the festival though; and that's because people tend to line up in one long line for all of the tables in the tent. So if you want to sample something towards the end, you have to wait in a line and pass the tables you are not interested in.
Over the last five years my strategy has evolved to skipping the VIP Tent and head over to the food vendors in the Main Area (Restaurant Row) where you can purchase a variety of great dishes made to order. And if you do it at the beginning you can miss the smaller lines there too. We ate at Marty's Catering & BBQ... TriTip sandwich - yum!
Cakes for sale from the Nothing Bundt Cakes van
The VIP Tent wineries included Nobelle Wines, Gainey Vineyards, and Zaca Mesa Vineyard & Winery. I enjoyed the wines from Nobelle and Gainey, but missed Zaca Mesa. (This is where my strategy to return to the VIP Tent later on can backfire.)
Nobelle Wines
Gainey Vineyards
Leffe, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden
A separate area in the VIP Tent included the best of Belgium's beers on tap: Leffe, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden. They always draw a large crowd at the beginning of the festival as well.

I managed to visit and taste at about a dozen wineries in the main area. Many of them were familiar, but it's always good to see how your favorite wineries are doing! Unlike last year, this year I managed to focus on wines (a white circuit, and then a red circuit) and not get detoured by the hoppy IPAs being poured by the craft breweries.
Gagnon Cellars
Ascension Cellars
Sunstone Winery
tercero wines
Clos des Amis Wines

 Ranchita Canyon Vineyard
Toucan Wines
Sagebrush Annie's and Stone Pine Estate
Cantara Cellars
Alta Colina Wine
Cottonwood Canyon Winery
Wine Discoveries
Discovering wineries is one of the main reasons I go to wine festivals, and I enjoyed sampling the wines from Majestic Oak Vineyards and End of the Road Winery, both from Ojai. Rotta Winery from Paso Robles was a pleasant surprise also. They've been making wine (on and off) since 1908! 
Majestic Oak Vineyards
End of the Road Winery
Rotta Winery
Craft Beer
Many breweries poured for an enthusiastic crowd.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company
 Festival  Sights
Silent Auction
Rasca Ajos Garlic Grater
Floradora Hats
Selfie Time!
Always a mellow time on the lawn.
And a party on the dance floor!

Santa Barbara Dance Music Band Area 51 rocking the festival.

Red Hats! Must be the Red Hat Society.

CLICK HERE to view all of the pictures and listen to Area 51 rocking out with that ever-popular festival song... California Girls!

Let me know if you were there too or have any comments about the festival.  Just email, like, or tweet Taste N Trip...
Twitter: @TasteNTrip

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival 2016

The sold-out 23rd Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival was held at CSU Channel Islands and featured food and drink from more than 75 restaurants and 150 wineries, breweries and others. 
All proceeds from the festival benefit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which provides hope and help for abused, neglected, or at-risk children and their families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
They don't call it WINE, FOOD & BREW for nothing! There were  incredible choices of wine, food, brew, music, and a nice variety of other vendors. 
For a complete list of vendors scroll to the end of this blog.

I had a few sips of wine and especially liked the red wines from Clos des Amis, Cantara Cellars and Magnavino Cellars and the white wines from Sunstone Winery.
OOPS, it was almost a BEER FESTIVAL!
This year there were ample local beers to taste and I managed to enjoy some (mostly IPAs) very good pours from these California breweries:
  • Absolution Brewing Company
  • Enegren Brewing Company
  • Five Threads Brewing Company
  • Institution Ale
  • Island Brewing Company
  • Ladyface Ale Companie
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Madewest Brewing Company
  • Rincon Brewery
  • Smoke Mountain Brewery
  • Surf Brewery
  • Tap It Brewing Co.
  • The Lab Brewing Co.  (first place winner in 2015 & 2016!)
  • Topa Topa
Every year the food in the VIP Lounge and Festival exceeds my expectations. There are so many choices and more than one person can possibly sample.  
These are the restaurants where I enjoyed a few samples:
  • Austen's at the Pierpont Inn
  • Brendan's Irish Pub
  • STACKED: Food Well Built
  • The Hitching Post II Restaurant
  • TWENTY88 (no wonder they won first place in the Savory category!)
  • Twisted Oak Tavern (the pork bellies paired very well with the winning “Take Her Home Tripel”)
  • Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
Executive Chefs from Ventura County's top restaurants competed with each other in two main categories--Sweet and Savory. Judges included Lisa McKinnon, Rita Moran,
Chef Masa Shimakawa, Olivia Crouppen, Troy Glass, Chef Nic Manocchio, and Sarene Wallace.
Winning the Savory category was Chef Alex Castillo of Twenty88 Restaurant with a hoisin-tamarind glazed pork rib with a tamarind and hoisin sauce and a tangy tropical coleslaw.
The Sweet category was won by Pastry Chef Momo Galera of University Village Thousand Oaks with his chocolate mousse and mandarin marmalade in a vanilla bean Pavlova and an edible flower. 

A Belgian Triple from The Twisted Oak Tavern / The LAB Brewing Company won the brewery competition with their “Take Her Home Tripel.” Founder and Brewer Roger Bott’s Belgian Tripel had a powerful 10.8% ABV, 25 IBUs and was a classic Trappist brew with citrus and spice flavors from Belgian yeast.

Live music featured Chris Lomeli at the VIP reception area, Roni Benise Band and Wes Quave Live on the main stage, and Sound Effect Band in the VIP Lounge. 
The Taste N Trip festival videos below feature music by Roni Benise Band and Wes Quave Live. 

Click below to see an overview of the festival.
Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival 2016

Click below to watch festival-goers really GO!
Casa Pacifca Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival 2016 (4K Time Lapse)
 *If you have a 4K (UHD) TV you can view it in ultra HD if you set the YouTube Quality to 2160p.

If you've watched both videos you know it was a fun event for all. Next year the festival will be held on June 4th -- don't miss it!

Photo by Mike Brown

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Twitter: @TasteNTrip

These are the vendors at the 23rd Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival:

Angelini Trading Company
Ascension Cellars
August Ridge
Cantara Cellars
Cass Vineyard & Winery
Chateau St. Jean
Chateau St. Michelle

Clos des Amis
First Crush Cellars
Greg Norman Estates Winery
Herzog Winery
Jettlynn Winery
Magnavino Cellars
Robert Hall Winery
Rotta Winery
Stone Pine Estate/ Sagebrush Annie’s
Summerland Winery
Sunstone Winery
The Hitching Post II Winery
The Painted Cabernet
VinAlegre Wines
Wente Vineyards
Wild Horse Winery

Maria's Italian Kitchen
Scarlett Belle Cruises
The Wine Rack
Village Commons Market

911 Wine Company

Absolution Brewing Company
Casa Agria Specialty Ales
Enegren Brewing Company
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Five Threads Brewing Company
Institution Ale
Island Brewing Company
Ladyface Ale Companie
Lagunitas Brewing Company
M Special Brewing co.
Madewest Brewing Company
Rincon Brewery
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
Smoke Mountain Brewery
Surf Brewery
Tap It Brewing Co.
Telegraph Brewing Company
The Lab Brewing Co.
Topa Topa

Barrelhouse 101
Ojai Beverage Company
Two Trees Cafe

101 Cider House
Channel Islands Distillery
The Bloody Cure

A Total Diva Designs
Conejo Photobooth
Hubert's Lemonade
Lori's Original Lemonade
McDonalds / The Paschen Family
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shops
So Cal Photo Lounge
Sparkling Ice

805 Bar & Grilled Cheese/The Copa Cubana
Austen's at the Pierpont Inn
Barrelhouse 101
BJ's Restaurant and Brewery
Blvd Brgr Co.
Bread Basket Cake Co., Inc
Brendan's Irish Pub
Brophy Brothers
Cafe Firenze
California Olive Ranch
David's Delectables
DJs California Catering
Don's Smokin' Salmon
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort
Esther's Sweet SinSations Bakery
Farm Fresh To You
Gourmet Blends Corp
Hermosa Mexican Foods, LLC
Jinky's Cafe
KIND Healthy Snacks
Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins
Lazy Dog Restaurant
Los Agaves Restaurant
Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant
Los Robles Greens GC & Banquet Facility
Main Street Meats and Real Foods Market
Maria's Italian Kitchen
Market Broiler
Merlin's Kitchen, Inc
Missy's Cupcake Creations
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Ojai Beverage Company
Old Town Cafe
P.F. Chang's
Panera Bread
Patty's 805 Treats
Paul Martin's American Grill
Pick Up Stix
River Ridge Golf Club
Shave It
Social Tap Ventura
Spanish Hills Country Club
STACKED: Food Well Built
Sugar Lab Bake Shop
The Cave
The Hitching Post II Restaurant
Tierra Sur at Herzog
Twisted Oak Tavern
University Village Thousand Oaks
We Olive
Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
Yolanda's Mexican Cafe