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