Get Your Calendars Out: Central and SoCal Highlights Winter, Spring 2019

While I’m cozy on the couch with cognac listening to the cascades of rain come and go, I know soon it will be time to get out and about for more adventures in wine, food, and travel. After all, I am the Wine Predator and I do love to prowl!

Here are a few events that I have on my calendar — and why.

Weds Feb. 6 Stars of California

Lower prices until Tuesday 2/5: $50 off on all remaining tickets if you use the promotional code “GOLD50” — get tickets here.

“STRIKE GOLD” – STARS of California Wine
$50 OFF  the VIP Sea Smoke Dinner – 4 more seats added
$50 OFF the VIP Early Admission – less than 10 tickets remain
$50 OFF the General Admission – about 15 remain

LOCATION:   The Peninsula Beverly Hills
9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90212

If you go to this event, definitely catch

these biodynamic wines: 

Grimm’s Bluff, Santa Barbara County
Sauvignon Blanc, Estate, Happy Canyon, 2015
“Cliff Hanger” Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Happy Canyon, 2014

Hawk and Horse Vineyards, Lake County
Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills Lake County, 2009
Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills Lake County, 2013
Petite Sirah, Red Hills Lake County, 2014
Latigo, Red Hills Lake County, 2012

Sea Smoke, Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties
Southing Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, 2016
Scheid Family WinesGrenache Blanc, Monterey, 2017
Estate Pinot Noir, Monterey, 2016
Claret, Monterey, 2012 Tannat, Monterey, 2015
(see if they have any of their sparkling hidden under the table!)

these gorgeous wines which are dry farmed and likely organic and even maybe biodynamic:

Ledge Vineyards, Paso Robles
SGR, Adams Ranch, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles,
2016 GSMR, James Berry Vineyard, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles,
2016 Grenache, Rolph Family Vineyard, Adelaida District, Paso Robles,
2016  Red Blend, “MCA Cuvée” Paso Robles, 2016

Hosted, curated, and organized by WineLA; they are offering so many fun and educational events in LA this winter and spring — check out the list here. 

Fri-Sun. Feb. 8-10 Garagiste Festival, Solvang

I love this festival and these wines — so many rare and unusual, small production wines, and passionate winemakers. It’s not so crowded; I’m always able to have wonderful conversations with the winemakers there. And I love the ambiance of this historic building. The organizers really have their heart in this, too, and it comes through.

Organizers explain that “Garagistes (garage-east) is a term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their “garages” (anything considered not a chateau), who refused to follow the “rules,” and is now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.  The Garagiste Festivals were the first to shine a light on the American garagiste winemaker in 2011.”

More about the Garagiste Festival. Details and tickets here.

Sat. Feb. 9 #WinePW Uruguay with twitter chat at 8am Pacific

Weds Feb 13: Kosher Food and Wine Experience, LA,

No  you don’t need to be Jewish to want to experience Kosher food and wine.  At KFWE, you will have the opportunity to taste wines from regions you may never have tasted before — and some you have. You may be surprised at some of the wineries that just happen to keep Kosher. I’ve attended both the trade and consumer events and the food is AMAZING — and so is the wine! They will be pouring over 400 wines from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and beyond: “This show is like walking into the best stocked wine store on the planet and being able to taste everything you want.” Seriously. Just don’t try to touch the bottles. Learn more here.

Feb. 16 French #Winophiles Do Provence twitter chat 8am Pacific

Fri. Feb 22 National Margarita Day: Happy Hour at Home!

Need I say more? Well, you know I will because I have some samples of organic  Azuñia tequila to experiment with! Correction: for SUE to experiment with as she is quite the expert mixologist! And I’ll be talking about the #NoPlasticStraws365 initiative!  Look for a post on Monday Feb 18 so you’ll be prepared for a Happy Hour at Home!!

Sat. Feb. 23 Open That Bottle Night

Whether you go in or out, Open That Bottle Night is that night when we say “JUST DO IT — open that bottle!” Carpe Diem and all of that! And no I don’t know what I’ll be opening yet… but trust that I will be agonizing over this decision for the next three weeks… even though Sue and I have talked about it for at least a year…

Fri-Sat Mar 1 – 2 World of Pinot Noir, Bacara Resort Santa Barbara

If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, there is nowhere else in the world you’d rather be on this weekend than WOPN. I’ve attended the past two years and there is nothing like it. Even better, this year, after the devastating fires and floods, organizers will donate funds to the Bucket Brigade in Santa Barbara and Ventura, and CA Wine Strong in Northern California.

Attend any or all of the seminars that you can starting with Elaine Chukan Brown’s keynote (sure to be brilliant!) on new world Pinot Noir which kicks off the day — and goes through lunch. In addition to being a fan of Elaine’s, I’m a huge fan of Erica Crawford and Brianne Day: they are both big on organic and biodynamic practices and taking care of the earth and the farm and they will be on the panel so you know I want to be there bright and early to attend this!

FRIDAY SEMINAR & LUNCHEON: Exploring the New World of Pinot Noir – 9 am – 2 pm
Keynote speaker Elaine Chukan Brown – the American Specialist for, and a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits Magazine – will lead a winemaker panel discussion and tasting exploring the exciting wines being produced in New Zealand, Oregon, Chile and California. The discussion will explore how these pioneering regions are helping shape the future of Pinot Noir. Panelists include: New Zealand – Erica Crawford of Loveblock Wines; Oregon – Brianne Day of Day Wines; Chile – Rodrigo Soto of Ritual Wines; and California – James Ontiveros of Native 9 Wines. The seminar includes a three-course lunch paired with Pinot Noir and cool-climate wines prepared by the Ritz-Carlton Bacara culinary team, with wine service by World of Pinot Noir Sommeliers. View Menu Price – $275.

The menu includes Loveblock’s Pinot Gris which was a game changer for me, and I love Day’s Chardonnay from biodynamically grown grapes and I’d love to taste the wine that they will be serving at lunch. And hey — heck that out for those of you who want a little variety with your pinot noir!

Saturday’s first session led by David Glancy is sure to be awesome. I learned so much from him last year; he knows so much AND he’s funny AND he’s interactive — which is saying something when you’re leading a seminar in a room of that size. And I can’t say enough about the service by the Somms — so well done, and again, what a challenge. Here’s the official description.

Tasting the Signature Styles of Burgundy | 9:00am
Founder of the San Francisco Wine School and Master Sommelier David Glancy, along with a panel of Burgundy experts and winemakers, will lead a fun and educational tasting exploring the varied winemaking styles that distinguish the top Burgundy houses. The seminar includes a three-course Pinot Noir-paired lunch prepared by the Ritz-Carlton Bacara culinary team, with wine service by World of Pinot Noir Sommeliers. View Menu

Later that afternoon, you will absolutely want to attend Elaine Chukan Brown’s seminar on wines of the Willamette Valley which will showcase wines from Cristom, Résonance, Gran Moraine, and Nicols Jay. I’ve tasted sparkling wine from Gran Moraine (ethereal bubbles, delicate flavors, memorable finish…) and visited Cristom on a press trip last fall and so I must say that attendees are in for a treat. Cristom is under the leadership of the new owner — son of the original owner — and he’s moving the winery to become biodynamically certified. Here’s the official description:

Discover the Best of Oregon’s Willamette Valley | 1:00pm
Noted speaker Elaine Chukan Brown – the American Specialist for, and a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits Magazine – will lead a winemaker panel discussion and tasting exploring the best wines of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Brown will lead guests through a line-up of marquee wines that spotlight the nuanced styles of the region’s top producers– Cristom, Résonance, Gran Moraine, and Nicols Jay– and show the amazing age-ability of this vanguard region.
Of course the star of the show is the Grand Tasting, with each day featuring different wines, along with foods to pair with them and workshops too.

March 2 Biodynamic Wines of Italy and I’m hosting! #ItalianFWT twitter chat  8am Pacific

I’m planning on tasting and writing about these wines in a series of three posts, the invite Feb. 20, the preview Feb 27, and my contribution to the conversation on March 2 along with hosting the twitter chat at 8am Pacific.

From Valle Reale

  • Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC, SRP $15
  • Cerasuolo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (Rose), SRP $16
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, SRP $17
  • Vigneto di Popoli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, SRP $20

Now this next one isn’t on the central coast or even SoCal (maybe next year?), but it is important to all of us who care about wine:

Tues-Thursday March 5-7 Climate Change Conference, Porto Portugal 

I have been a climate activist for many years now, and I organized and led the previous two climate marches for this area in 2017 and 2018. This conference brings together two of my passions, wine and climate awareness which leads to action. I’ve long said that wine is a gateway drug to climate and other environmental concerns. As people get more into wine, they learn to pay attention to what is going on with the weather and to care about the soil and other aspects of the terroir. I’d like nothing better than to leave WOPN for Portugal and to report back about what I learn.  Here’s a pdf of the schedule and ticket prices. 

March 9 Cabernet Franc #WinePW; twitter chat 8am Pacific

March 16 Women of Champagne #Winophiles; twitter chat 8am Pacific

And looking toward spring…

Fri. Mar 29-31 Santa Barbara Vintners Wine Futures Tasting 

April is “Down to Earth Month” offering sustainable Wine Events from Wine Festivals and Vineyard Hikes/Horseback Rides with the Winemaker to Special Tastings and Tours. Stay tuned for more details.

And I’ll be hosting #WinePW April 13 with a focus on Biodynamic Wines of the World. Join our twitter chat at 8am Pacific. 

Th-Sun April 11-14 Lucidity Festival, Live Oak Camp, Santa Barbara County 

Speaking of learning… while Lucidity is not a wine festival per se, it’s a transformational festival full of music and workshops held just a few miles away from the Los Olivos tasting room corridor– and you can bring your own wine (although they do frown on glass bottles at the site…) We’ve attended three times now, and I’ve been involved in production and performance all three years. In 2019, I will be teaching people how to make their own mouthwash  and organizing a geocache activity for families.

and even further out for those of you who really plan ahead…

May 4 Santa Barbara Vintners Festival and Grand Tasting

So get these dates on your calendar, and get out there and taste some wine and have some fun! And let me know what festivals and events I should prowl on next!


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