Slow Wines, Fast Times: Ventura County Vineyards Growing Great!


Lunch time on bottling day for South Mountain Cabernet made with fruit from Paso Robles; Gretel looking pensive

After 18 wineries in five days last week in El Dorado County and the Lodi AVA, Sue and I made it back home to Ventura, and it looks like the summer is going to be FEVERISHLY HOT and busy as we continue to visit wineries looking to update and add to the Slow Wine Guide.

El Dorado’s Starfield with a full moon rising

This week we started assessing three Ventura County wineries, The Ojai Vineyard, Clos des Amis, and Topa Mountain Vineyard, as well as two from Santa Barbara County, Melville and Camins 2 Dreams with most of the grapes coming from the Sta Rita Hills AVA. All five wineries plus Anna’s Ciders will be featured in my upcoming article for Ventana Monthly’s July/August issue; we did our tasting and wine pairing dinner Monday at Ventura’s Vintage Trailer Park, Waypoint!

wines for my upcoming feature in Ventana against a backdrop of the “Vintner’s Trailer” at Waypoint Ventura

Next week for Slow Wine Guide we’ll visit lots of Santa Barbara wineries and the following week we head further north. (Should we visit you? Email me!)

Before we leave for SB, on Weds July 7 at noon Pacific I’m leading a ZOOM interview and tasting with Luis Duarte, who was named winemaker of the year in Portugal in 1997, 2007, and 2014.  Learn more and RSVP for the event; you can also order your wines here and sip along with us! Ventura Locals can pick up the wines at warehouse in Ventura. When ordering, use the discount code  IWILLPICKUP and then coordinate to pick up the wine by emailing

Today was also the deadline for the current version of the Murphy-Goode job contest. For some reason, the Murphy-Goode people think that the best response to the pandemic unemployment crisis is to recycle their Best Job in the world campaign just in time for April Fools and Earth Month. I thought I’d recycle my video from 2009 but I was just to busy producing copy and just didn’t get around to it. Read about the contest and why they should hire me anyway here. 

Today is ALSO the deadline for the Wine Writing Contest sponsored by Jancis Robinson. The theme this year is Old Vines which I’ve been passionate about since my days at Ridge Vineyards. I was very inspired by the old head trained vines at Lodi’s Lucas Vineyard, especially Magdalena who was planted in 1933 and died prematurely of tractor blight.

In my 1200 words (2k allowed) I also worked in stories from my days at Ridge as well as picking zinfandel last summer at the 40 year old Block Vineyard in upper Ojai (read more here) and training the toddler vines in Fillmore.

Looking west toward the Pacific down rows of Fillmore’s head trained vines; photo by Gretel Compton.

Above is a photo of the head trained young vines from a recent visit by Gretel to Fillmore. They’ve got fruit and hopefully there will be a crop this year as long as the bears and the deer don’t eat them first!  There’s a reason why we lovingly call this vineyard Caca de Osos! Read more about it here.

the HS graduate jumps for joy

Along with my son graduating from high school then rafting, hiking, and camping adventures in El Dorado County over Dad’s Day AND practicing with Kristen Shubert and Lisa Stoll for the World Wine Blind Tasting Competition (more on this soon!) in hopes that we will be a team competing in France October 2021

…means not as much time as I’d like to visit Ventura County Vineyards.


I did make it to Clos des Amis’s South Mountain winery for another bottling day, this time for the South Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from Paso Robles.

Since it took place on Rose Day, I insisted that we enjoy a bottle of Clos des Amis Rose with our lunch.

Rose and homemade dolmas made from fresh young Clos des Amis grape leaves were divine! Gretel and Bruce grew and cured the olives too.

How can tomorrow be July 1 already!

Next thing you know we will be picking grapes for the 2021 harvest!

Even with the drought, the vines are growing great seems to me!

Sunset at the Waypoint Vintage Trailer Village in Ventura– stay tuned for my Ventana Magazine article!

And I have an exciting scoop too coming soon! Yes I know how to keep a secret…

Read more about Clos des Amis and Ventura County wineries and vineyards in this mostly monthly series:

and more:



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