SoCal Ideas for Wine Tourism Day, Sat. May 11 2013


This Saturday, May 11 is Wine Tourism Day, a day to celebrate North America’s wine tourism industry and all those who enjoy the experience of visiting wine country.

According to organizers, “Local wine industry folks in their respective regions — including wineries, hotels, restaurants, and other wine-related businesses — have created special events for people who love anything to do with wine, food, events, travel and fun!”

Events can be anything from wine pairing dinners to music events to structured tastings. Search for an event near you or register for the Great Wine Tour Giveaway.

Or create your own event! You don’t have to visit Napa–head out on Saturday to a winery near you and celebrate! You may be surprised by what you’ll find in a few hours drive. Please post in the comments and tell us which wineries are YOUR favorites to visit?

Read on for Wine Predator’s picks of places to prowl!

I’m fortunate because living here in Ventura County, a beautiful 30 minute drive gets me to Santa Barbara’s “Sideways” country (hopefully home to next year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference!). Many wineries have congregated on the beach side of State Street, in a former industrial region.

Another 30 minutes from Santa Barbara, up and over the mountains, and I’m in Los Olivos where there are tasting rooms galore and I’m surrounding by wineries and vineyards like Bridlewood, which used to be a race horse property and has been converted to a winery.

You may have seen Bridlewood wines at Trader Joe’s or your local grocery store, but I’ll tell you, there is a lot more to their wines than you may have experienced from that tasty bottle from TJs! I was fortunate to be able to wander the winery with winemaker David Hopkins doing a barrel tasting where I experienced first hand the artistry and creativity that David puts into every barrel. The Mission style tasting room is gracious and warm and you’ll get a better sense of what Bridlewood has to offer as you taste through the range of wines they produce that you can only get as a wine club member, online, or at the winery; outside on the patio, you’ll find the perfect place to relax on a warm spring afternoon.

  • Bridlewood
  • 3555 Roblar Ave.
  • Santa Ynez, California 93460
    (805) 688-9000


Closer to home, I can zip down the 101 freeway south to  arrive in 10 minutes at Cantara Cellars, in Camarillo; right off the freeway, Cantara offers a small, simple but bright and comfortable space to enjoy what they’re doing with family fruit from Lodi, especially their old vine zin. (If you visit, be sure to smile at Que Syrah Sue, one of the Wine Predators!)

  • Cantara Cellars
  • 126 Wood Road #104
  • Camarillo, California 93010
  • (805) 484-9600

Right here in town, quite the beverage ghetto is developing around Market in Ventura (exit on Telephone)! My top pick is a stop at Four Brix where they specialize in serious blends with playful names like Rhone-devous.

  • Four Brix
  • 2290 Eastman Ave., Suite 109
  • Ventura, California 93003
  • (805) 256-6006

While The Ojai Vineyard has their warehouse in Ventura, if you want to taste or buy their wine, you have to drive to Ojai. Too bad! It is a beautiful drive all year. (Hint: On your way, take the back way to highway 33 by heading away from downtown on Montgomery!)

  • The Ojai Vineyard
  • 109 S. Montgomery St.
  • Ojai, California 93023
  • (805) 798-3947

But THE BEST Ventura County Wine Tourism Day place to go is Old Creek Ranch Winery which is also home to Vino V.

Old Creek Ranch is a working farm (they used to grow wine grapes but problems with bugs and disease). Michael Meagher makes the wine for Old Creek and for his label, Vino V. Both wineries donated wine to the recent Pierpont School silent auction and I placed winning bids allowing me to take home two bottles of albarino and two bottles of a Rhone blend from Old Creek plus two bottles of the newly released Vino V 2012 Rose. (Thanks for the donations!)

  • Old Creek Ranch Winery/Vino V
  • 10024 Old Creek Road
  • Ventura, California 93001
  • (805) 649-4132

VinoVRose2012So to close out this post, here are some tasting notes on the Vino V 2012 “Summer Sun” Rose which we opened to pair with a ham that my husband cooked on the grill.

  • Sniff: white stone fruit–white peach, nectarine, apricot,
  • Swirl: more coral than pink in color; a summery sunset!
  • Sip: lots on the front palate, flavors of strawberry cheesecake (not wild strawberries), quick finish

With the ham, the wine presented more citrus flavors–tangerine in particular. A blend of 50% grenache and 50% mourvedre, this is a superb picnic wine with plenty of acidity to work with all kinds of foods. It’s great cold–crisp and refreshing–but as it warms up, more complexity comes forward which makes it perfect on a picnic or on a warm afternoon with appetizers! Cork closure, retails $22. (I bought this wine as a donation to the school; in fact, all the wines in these images were purchased except the Cantara chardonnay which was provided by Cantara for a possible Chardonnay Day review).

If these descriptions caught your interest, make plans to visit this weekend for Wine Tourism Day! What a great Mother’s Day outing! (Well, this MOM would like it!)

Or purchase tickets now for Memorial Day Weekend’s Ventura County Passport event, Rock of Vintages, with lots of live music to pair with your tastings! More on this as we get closer to the date!

If you’re most interested in tasting and not traveling, check out  June 20’s Ventura County Wine Trail Celebration.
More on this event in June!

PS It’s Wine Wednesday! What’s in your glass tonight? (Yes, in mine is that Vino V Rose!)


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