What are you in the mood for this Valentine’s Day?

If you are in the mood for beautiful weather (70s and 80s) and gorgeous sunsets at the beach this Valentine’s Day with a generous helping of great wine and good food, then you should head to Ventura County  for the Valentine n Wine 5 day event starting tomorrow Th. Feb. 12, continuing Friday the 13th, Valentine’s Day, Sunday, and all the way to President’s Day, February 16th.


balmy Ventura beach sunset Tuesday February 10

In addition to tasting at 11 area wineries plus several more wineries at the Custom Crush facility in Camarillo, with your passport you’ll experience:

  • Very special one-of-a-kind pairings of food and chocolates at several different locations
  • Stay special at several local hotels – both one and two night pricing options for passport holders
  • Romantic gift ideas along the way


While the event runs for five days, not every winery is open the entire time so you want to plan your weekend carefully! More info and tickets here.

Also notice that not all of the Ventura County Wineries are participating, for example none of the Ojai wineries like Old Creek Ranch, Vino V, and Ojai Vineyards–while they will be open–are not part of the special passport; you will need to pay separate tasting fees.

To get us in the mood for Valentine n Wine, Que Syrah Sue stopped by with two recent releases –both red blends from 2011 from Cantara Cellars that we found to be quite pleasurable with light appetizers (perfect for a romantic picnic) but which would really shine with a nice meal. Both of these wines benefited from being open a bit before drinking (Sue had opened them at the tasting room where she works on Sunday) and in fact they continued to develop over several days after we tasted them the following Tuesday indicating that these may be some nice long lived wines worth cellaring until 2020 or more!

Don’t feel that you have to rush these wines! You could enjoy a glass a day of either one over several days or even a week as long as it is not sitting in a warm or sunny place.

Cantara benefits from owner/winemaker Mike Brown’s extensive family contacts in the Lodi area and has access to really phenomenol fruit; Cantara offers a number of fascinating red blends as well as more traditional wines like Chardonnay, Old Vine Zinfandel (one of my favorites! get this one for your Easter ham!), and  Barbera (and if you don’t think you’re a Barbera person, theirs might change your mind!).


Left Bank 2011–Lodi

Nicely balanced Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Not too heavy, a nice moderate wine all around. Earthiness from cab franc, dusty cocoa. Subtle, vegetal typical character of cab franc. Fruity from malbec. Opens up nicely, floral. Violet. 13.1% alcohol. Cork closure. Around $35.

Intrepid 2011–Lodi

Lots of oak treatment in this Rhone style blend gives it a sweet romantic relaxing vanilla first impression. Strong syrah, spicy black pepper. Licorice. Lots of flavor, lots of wild bramble fruits, dense so will go well with rich complex even gamey flavors of lamb, elk, mushroom brie as well as more typical foods to pair with red wine. 13.4% alcohol. Cork closure. Around $35.

Whether you do the Valentine n Wine Passport or not, next time you are on the 101 corridor in Camarillo, you should stop by Cantara and check it out.

And now I’m in the mood for more John Lee Hooker…as remixed by St Germain–and I don’t mean the liqueur!

For other Valentines ideas, including how to green your day, check this out.

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