Friday, June 23, 2017


It’s Friday and time for Happy Hour. Will you need to leave work or just hit the company Beer Fridge?  A smarter, happier hour awaits…

A tech company I used to work for (that was run by lawyers) wouldn’t even serve alcohol at company picnics, because they were afraid of the liabilities involved. Times sure have changed!

And it’s not just about the beer when your workplace has a Beer Fridge Culture. In companies that have a beer fridge people feel that they’re treated with respect and empowered to make their their own decisions and use their judgement.
Does providing alcohol to employees make sense in all industries? Sure, there are many that involve the promotion and sale of alcohol where you have to sample the products and these have made  alcohol available for a long time; I’ve even worked for some. And my Taste N Trip activities, as the the first part of the name implies, certainly involve sampling all manner of alcoholic beverages, some even in the home “office” where there are real refrigerators. You might not want to have anyone who works in healthcare, construction or transportation tipping a few while they are at work though.
Clarity Way, an addiction and mental health recovery center, has put together the following infographic listing five pros and five cons of providing alcohol at work.
If the Pros outweigh the Cons for your business then you might want to make it a “Bud-e” beer fridge. You can keep it stocked with help from Anheuser-Busch’s real time monitor that uses spring sensors and a WiFi connection. When your beer level begins to run low, the smart fridge can place an automatic order with a local delivery service or send the office manager a reminder to order more brews through the Anheuser-Busch web portal. As you may have guessed, Office Bud-e is completely free to lease - and not suprisingly it expands the market for Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer.
No information was available regarding what happens if you stock non-AB products in one of these Bud-e fridges. Does an alarm sound? Do those sensor connected springs go into action and eject the offending brew? Or do both happen simultaneously while the “When You Say Bud” song plays?

It will be a while until cities other than New York and Chicago have the Bud-e though. So if you are located anywhere else and are thinking of buying your own beer (or wine) fridge, because, you know, you trust your employees and you really want to empower them, you can find a large selection of them online
They will cost you a couple hundred dollars, but then you can decide what craft beers to stock them with. Maybe even a few Bombers?
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

6th Annual California Jazz & Wine Fest

The 2017 California Jazz & Wine Fest at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village was presented by the local Rotary Club Sunrise to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley. It was held on Sunday, April 9th from 1:00 to 5:00, or with an hour earlier entry for VIP tickets.
Live music was showcased on two separate stages during the event. I enjoyed watching the Adam Clark Quartet and Lao Tizer perform on the main stage and D.on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers and Bruce Forman’s "Cow Bop" perform in the big tent. Other musicians included The Barrelhouse Wailers and Danny Janklow. Click here to listen to an abbreviated music video in 4K or a longer version of HD video and pictures here.
The tasting experience included a nice selection of California wines, Taittinger Champagne, local craft brews and spirits, plus a variety of gourmet food offerings from local restaurants and caterers.

California Jazz & Wine Fest 2017 - Video & Pictures

California Jazz & Wine Fest 2017 (4K)

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sunshine Millions Wine Festival

Ashleyluvssugar (#1 in 2nd place) about to win the California Cup Turf Classic
The Sunshine Millions Wine Festival and the Sunshine Millions California Cup were a perfect combo last Saturday. 
Santa Anita Park aka "The Great Race Place" is at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains and has a reputation as one of the most beautiful horse race tracks in the world. They opened their doors as an official racetrack in 1934 and many famous horses have run there, including Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, John Henry and Zenyatta.
We were with a fun birthday party group in the Turf Terrace, which is billed as the "best seat in the house."
I've been to a number of differently themed wine festivals, but this is the first time I've been able to taste a nice variety of wine (and some beer) while watching an exciting horse race. There were ten races that showcased the best Cal-Bred Thoroughbreds. And I even bet on a few.
Devon picked the winner of the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint with Enola Gray and I picked 2nd place Smoove It.
Number 9 wins! Sircat Sally remained perfect in a dazzling 2 ¼ length win as she tried turf for the first time in the $200,000 California Cup Oaks. Turner's homebred, ridden by Baze and trained by Hollendorfer, gets mile in 1:35.08. Click to watch video.
I really raked in the dough with a $6 bet on winning horse Sircat Sally in the California Cup Oaks. Ashleyluvssugar won the California Cup Turf Classic and Ann Arbor Eddie won the California Cup Derby.  Thanks to West Coast Wheelie’s tip sheet for some great tips.
BUT enough about horse racing! The Sunshine Millions Wine Festival was a fun tasting event by itself.
In addition to Beaulieu Vineyards, I was glad to taste some of these wines...
 Deutsch Family Wines: Josh / Villa Pozzi
Jackson Family Wines Collection: Matanzas Creek Winery / Cambria / Nielson by Byron
Jacob’s Creek / Graffigna
Kendall-Jackson: Vinter’s Reserve and Avant
Motto Wines / Columbia Crest / Chateau St. Michelle /14 Hands Winery
Newton Red Label
Zaca Mesa
I didn't have a chance to catch them all though; the other wineries were...
Barefoot Spritzers
Domaine Chandon

Cape Mentelle
Chateau St. Jean / 19 Crimes
Rodney Strong

Treana Winery
Trinchero Family Estates

A couple of breweries were represented and I was glad to see they were two of my favorites: Pizza Port Brewing (with Pick Six Pilsner) and Stone Brewing (with Delicious IPA).
Any wine or beer would go well with one of these Homeboy Pretzels.
Two criminals tasting 19 Crimes wine.
Want to talk to the winemaker? Better visit the winery. Unlike some other wine festivals with winemakers pouring, this one had a few knowledgeable distributor reps and many of the other people were employees of the track or hired for the event.  I noticed this at the beginning when two people pouring beer had not been instructed on how to do it yet, so they couldn't serve any beer! (I thought you just pulled back on the tap?)
The horse racing was entertaining enough, so I didn't worry about talking to winemakers to learn more about their wines.
Photo by Debby Hall
Gary & Devon with the Seabiscuit statue in the Paddock Gardens at Santa Anita Park.
Photo by Debby Hall
A professional photo bomber and Taste N Trip fan joined us for a picture.
Video on YouTube at
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Unless otherwise noted all pictures are by Gary Coon / Taste N Trip.

Friday, January 20, 2017

California Wine Tasting Events 2017

It's never too early to plan your 2017 tasting trips! So save these dates now. The following festivals are only a few of the many events in California that may be interesting. (Listed in order by date.)
  • 6th Annual Winter Wine Classic – Santa Barbara
  • Sunshine Millions Wine Festival - Santa Anita Park, Arcadia
  • Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend - Paso Robles 
  • 2017 LA Beer Fest - Los Angeles Center Studios, LA
  • 6th Annual California Jazz & Wine Fest - Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
  • Santa Barbara Vintners New Release Spring Weekend - River View Park, Buellton
  • 35th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival - Downtown City Park, Paso Robles
  • ZinFest Wine Festival - Lodi Lake Park, Lodi 
  • 5th Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Assoc Wine Festival - Reyes Winery, Agua Dulce
  • 34th Annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival - Lake Skinner, Winchester
  • 24th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival - Camarillo
  • The 31st Annual Ojai Wine Festival - Lake Casitas Recreation Area, Ojai
  • 2017 Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival - Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
  • 30th Annual A Taste of Camarillo – Wine, Brew & Food Festival - Camarillo
  • Wine and Fire 2017 - La Purisima Mission, Lompoc
  • Harvest Wine Weekend - Paso Robles
Thinking of visiting Portland, Oregon this year? The best time to visit is the last weekend in July for the Oregon Brewers Festival. More information about #OBF17 below...

6th Annual Winter Wine Classic – Santa Barbara
Saturday, January 21st
4:00/5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Enjoy amazing wines, gourmet appetizers, an ocean view & amazing sunset under a beautiful heated tent at the Fess Parker
Resort. One of the largest gatherings of California’s ultra-elite winemaking masters will be held on Saturday, January 21st.
Ticket price includes commemorative crystal wine tasting glass, live music, wine tastings and appetizers.

Santa Anita Graphic
Sunshine Millions Wine Festival
Santa Anita Park, Arcadia

Saturday, January 28th
11:30 am - 5:00 pm
One of the most exciting days at Santa Anita Park’s Winter Meet includes the Sunshine Millions California Cup. It is one-part showcase of the best Cal-Bred Thoroughbreds, and one-part celebration in the fashion that Santa Anita Park delivers. The Sunshine Millions Wine Festival and The Great Race Place offer a bevy of wine (*no list of wineries available) and food to complement an amazing card of racing. Wines from across California will be paired with a day of world-class racing on the Santa Anita Park apron. The racetrack opened it's doors in 1934 as an official racetrack. Many horses have ran at Santa Anita Park, including Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, John Henry and Zenyatta.

Paso Wine Website Graphic
Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend 
Paso Robles
Friday - Sunday, March 17 - 19
During Vintage Paso, producers and enthusiasts come together in celebration of everything that Zinfandel and Zinfandel blends add to your palate and your experience. Enjoy a zin-filled weekend with activities including an exciting Zinposium seminar, winemaker dinners, exclusive Zinfandel tastings, winery and vineyard tours and so much more! (Not exactly a wine festival.)

Pic by Drink Eat Play Facebook
2017 LA Beer Fest
Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 South Bixel Street, LA
Saturday, April 8th
12 pm - 3 pm & 5 pm – 8 pm
The 9th Annual LA Beer Festival will feature dozens of international and domestic beers, food trucks (food sold separately), and  live entertainment. The fest will take place at LA Center Studios in 2 different sessions: noon to 3pm and 5pm to 8pm. GA tickets include unlimited beer tastings with food sold separately. Connoisseur's Tickets ($80) are limited and offer attendees exclusive access featuring limited beers/one-offs not available to general admission. Proceeds will benefit Noah's B-ark, whose aim is to rescue dogs from shelters and find permanent homes for rescued pets. Proceeds from the event will fund food, shelter, and veterinary bills for rescued pets.
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
Sunday, April 9th
1 pm - 5 pm
An eclectic mix of hot jazz and cool swing will be performed on two stages and unlimited sampling of wine, craft brews, boutique spirits and gourmet food are happening on Sunday.
Along with artisans displaying their wares, music will include Danny Janklow, saxophonist, producer and composer  known internationally for his soulful and passionate sounds. Also performing are the Adam Clark Quartet, Lao Tizer, D.on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers, The Barrelhouse Wailers and Bruce Forman’s “Cow Bop.” Presented by Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise, proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley.
Santa Barbara Vintners New Release Spring Weekend
River View Park, Buellton
April 22nd
1 pm - 4 pm
The Santa Barbara Vintners New Release Spring Weekend is four days of wine, food and fun. The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Grand Tasting on Saturday at River View Park in Buellton. Enjoy new release wines from participating member wineries; food sampling from more than twenty food purveyors; live music; wine and culinary demonstrations; local artisans; and a silent auction.

Throughout the four day weekend many wineries host their own events, including open houses, winemaker dinners, library tastings, vineyard walks, and barrel tastings. Some of these individual events require reservations directly with the host winery.
35th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival 
Downtown City Park, Paso Robles
May 18 - 21
The Paso Robles Wine Festival
is the marquee tasting event held along California's Central Coast. The Wine Festival starts Thursday, May 18th with Winemaker Dinners. On Friday, May 19th, select wineries feature their Library, Reserve, White/Rosé, and Futures complemented by fresh and local gourmet bites at the RESERVE Event. There is a fun and educational Winemaker Seminar on Saturday morning, May 20th. Following the seminar, more than 70 wineries come together in the Paso Robles Downtown City Park to showcase their wines during the Grand Tasting. Wineries at the Grand Tasting will be arranged by “regions” for a seamless and focused tasting experience: Bordeaux-style, Rhône-style, Zinfandel, Burgundian-style, Italian varieties and Other Wild Wines for your tasting pleasure. Plus, new this year, food samples! (Finally!) Live music provide the perfect atmosphere for your wine tasting experience in the picnic area and near the gazebo.
ZinFest Website Graphic
ZinFest Wine Festival
Lodi Lake Park, 1101-1301 W. Turner Road, Lodi 
Saturday, May 20th 
12 am – 5 pm
Sip, swirl and savor from a selection of 250 handcrafted wines from 50 Lodi wineries. Passionate winemakers and winery representatives welcome guests, offer practical knowledge and share their delicious wines. Enjoy local provisions, learn some new tips at the ZinFest Wine and Cooking Schools, or relax along the beautiful Mokelumne River to an eclectic mix of live music. Guests can peruse merchandise from regional vendors and take home a commemorative bottle of custom blended Old Vine Zinfandel from the ZinFest Wine Shoppe. There is no better way to celebrate the fantastic wines of Lodi Wine Country!
5th Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association Wine Festival
Reyes Winery, 10262 Sierra Hwy, Agua Dulce
Saturday, May 20th
11/12 pm - 4 pm
The Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival is a showcase of Los Angeles County premier wine and spirit producers and culinary professionals. Now, in its fifth year, the Festival showcases nearly 150 wines from over 40 local wineries, over 40 of Santa Clarita’s fine dining restaurants, spirit purveyors, gourmet food companies, and artists.

Combined Graphics from Internet
34th Annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
Lake Skinner, Warren Rd, Winchester
June 2nd - 4th
The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival offers top-name entertainment, wine tasting in the Wine Garden, Kids Faire, Arts & Crafts, Commercial exhibits and a Food Court. Wine tasting features different premium wines from numerous Temecula Valley wineries as well as others from Southern California. Enjoy a memorable experience and book a hot air balloon flight. Your journey will begin at sunrise as the balloon lifts gently into the sapphire skies above Lake Skinner.

24th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival
California State University Channel Islands
1 University Drive, Camarillo

Sunday, June 4th
A wonderful day of sampling excellent wines, delicious foods, and marvelous micro-brews, all to benefit the programs and services provided by Casa Pacifica to vulnerable and deserving children and their families. The Festival showcases delectable creations of the finest restaurants, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops from Santa Barbara to Conejo Valley. The event also features many renowned wineries and vineyards from throughout California's rich wine-producing regions, as well as many local breweries.

The 31st Annual Ojai Wine Festival
Lake Casitas Recreation Area, Ojai
Sunday, June 11th
12 - 4 pm
The Ojai Wine Festival has grown into a leading regional event attracting about 5,000 people from throughout the central coast and southern California. The Ojai Wine Festival has made its home at beautiful Lake Casitas Recreation Area event site and has become a favorite event for attending wineries with their numbers doubling to event capacity. Wine and beer connoisseurs can delight in over 60 of California’s award winning wineries with more than 250 selections of wine and 15 excellent Premium Beers and Microbrews. VIP Tickets are available for the VIP Lounge with early entry at 11:30 am, exclusive fine wines, Belgian craft beers and hors d'oeuvres. Each year the Ojai Wine Festival has one or two bands playing during the event keeping people grooving on the dance floor. 

2017 Santa Barbara Wine and Food Festival
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
June 24th
2 pm - 5 pm
The festival takes place along the banks of Mission Creek at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Mingle with winemakers, bakers, and chefs in the sunshine, under the oak trees. Guests will enjoy the best of Central Coast Wines and try their luck in our Every Cork Wins! raffle. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the Wine Festival supports nature and science education for adults and children. 

30th Annual A Taste of Camarillo – Wine, Brew & Food Festival
Adolfo Camarillo Ranch House, 201 Camarillo Ranch Road, Camarillo
Sunday, July 30th
1 pm - 4 pm
Spend an afternoon sampling fine wines & gourmet foods on the beautiful grounds of the historic Camarillo Ranch. Enjoy live entertainment, boutique shopping, silent auction and cash opportunity drawing. Visit with winemakers and chefs in the shade of 100 year old trees.
Dust off your boots and enjoy country western music and dancing again this year with live music, a VIP Lark Saloon and the Wet Your Whistle Watering Hole filled with craft beers. A Taste of Camarillo promises to be a wonderful event for everyone with all proceeds benefiting local and Ventura County charities.
~ and ~
Wine Auction Gala
Live & Silent Auction
Saturday, July 29th
5 pm - 10 pm

Pictures from Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance website
Wine and Fire 2017
La Purisima Mission, Lompoc

August 18th - 20th
The Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance holds their annual Wine and Fire event in August. It’s a weekend of world class wines and wood grilled specialty foods. The three main events include a barn party, a seminar and lunch, and the Grand Tasting at La Purisima Mission. Additional events are hosted by member wineries throughout the weekend.

Harvest Wine Weekend
Paso Robles

October 20th - 22nd
Love wine, but not all the fuss that sometimes goes along with it? In Paso Robles Wine Country, you’ll discover award-winning wines, exceptional restaurants and breathtaking views all without tension or pretension. Try a taste for yourself during Harvest Wine Weekend! Harvest in Paso Robles Wine Country is a time of excitement and celebration! The changing colors of the vines, crisp autumn air, and the promise of a new vintage create a wine country experience not to be forgotten. Explore more than 140 weekend activities, including winemaker dinners, ceremonial grape stomps, barrel tastings, artisanal food pairings, live music and so much more!

Oregon Brewers Festival 2011
Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, OR
July 26th - 30th
The Oregon Brewers Festival will celebrate its 30th annual craft beer event in downtown Portland. Currently the #1 large metro area for beer tourism, about 80,000 people are expected to visit the festival and taste some of the 84 beers from craft breweries across the country. A Specialty Tent will pour one-off kegs of rare, bold, and experimental beers from participating brewers. Festival attendees can try another 50+ rotating craft beers in the Specialty Tent throughout the duration of the festival.
In addition to a wide variety of beer styles, the event also features live music, food booths, craft vendors and homebrew demonstrations. Gates open at 11:30 am daily, and taps are open from Noon to 9 pm Wednesday through Saturday, and Noon to 7pm Sunday. Follow the festival on OregonBrewersFestival
Facebook page or @OregonBrewfest on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

More events for 2017 will be added as I learn about them...

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Unless otherwise noted all pictures are by Gary Coon / Taste N Trip.