Keeping It Local with Clos des Amis Wines and Cioppino plus an Art Opening, A Bottling, and A Preview to #WinePW #EarthMonth

Keeping It Local with Clos des Amis Wine; photo of Gwendolyn Alley and friends by Claudia Miklas

“Locally grown, locally made.” That’s the message that greets you when you visit the Clos des Amis website. Many people are surprised to find that Ventura County not only has a history of wine grape growing but that wine grapes are grown here NOW– not far from where I live– and made into wine locally as well. It’s surprising because much of the wine made in Ventura County comes from elsewhere– mostly from Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. but also Lodi and Los Angeles.

Keeping It Local with Clos des Amis Wine; photo of Gwendolyn Alley and friends by Claudia Miklas

Clos des Amis loosely translates from French to English as “circle of friends.” At Clos des Amis winery, it is a circle of friends who come together to make it all happen: from pruning to picking to bottling. 

I first visited the solar powered adobe winery in November and vowed to become more involved. In January 2019, I ventured out to help prune at Clos on South Mountain above the Santa Clara River in Ventura County; three years later, I had written monthly or more about my experiences covering the cycles in the vineyard and cellar; scroll down for links to this series with the oldest posts at the bottom.

I’m definitely in the circle of friends now! 

Clos des Amis co-winemakers and co-owner Gretel Compton

On a recent Saturday, I had two opportunities to share my knowledge about the winery: I helped out Gretel Compton and Bruce Freeman at the Ventura Farmers Market, and then I took the leftover wines for a tasting at an art opening in Somis where people not only loved the wines but they loved the local angle. And earlier this week I joined in bottling the 2022 estate Pinot Noir which Gretel paired with Moroccan lamb shanks using a recipe from Bruce’s Algerian French family (wow, is it good! Stay tuned for more!)

Santa Barbara spot prawns smoked, local seared ahi tuna, and Clos des Amis Chardonnay

With so much local wine and local food love, I volunteered to host the April Earth Month Wine Pairing Weekend prompt “Local Wine, Local Food”. 

For this occasion, we chose to pair these locally grown wines with locally grown food from our seaside market to make a cioppino or fish stew. It doesn’t get more local than this! 

albarino from Clos des Amis

2021 Clos des Amis Albarino, South Mountain Vineyard, Ventura County California

ABV: 14%
SRP: $22
Grapes: Albarino

A very small production, this vintage of this wine is pretty much sold out. But the 2022 will be available soon!

Appearance:  Golden, Daffodil, Lemon

Aroma: Lemon, grass, earth, limestone, the fuzz on a yellow peach, not overly aeromatic, but what is there is quite pleasing, like a warm summer day in Santa Paula with the chaparral, the river, and the ocean not too far. 

Palate: Nice roundness, citrus oil, grass, oxalis, sour grass, lemon curd, tart lemon, eureka lemon, tart finish, tastes like something you would want on a warm summer day. 

Pairing: We were drawn to the Coppa on the cheese plate first to introduce our palate to the food and wine, it did not disappoint, the wine becomes sweet fruity and flavorful, the tart acidity is apparent on the finish. The mushroom brie on our warm tuscan bread  with the wine were a very good match. Nice with the pecorino cheese. It brings out the sheets milk in the cheese and the fruit in the wine. The bread brings it all together. If you think about paella and cioppino there are similar flavor profiles so it is no mystery that this dish would be a great pairing for an Albarino wine, and tonight just confirmed our wonderings. 

clos des amis chardonnay

2021 Clos des Amis Chardonnay, Olivelands Vineyard, Ventura County California

ABV: 13.2%
SRP: $18
Grapes: Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is wildly popular with both the ABC (All But Chardonnay) group of white wine drinkers as well as the CHARDONNAY and only Chardonnay drinkers. 

Appearance:  Golden, lemon yellow, 

Aroma: Lemon blossom, orange blossom, gardenia. 

Palate: Plush lemon curd, tart finish, clean and as refreshing as spring water over rocks. It has a cleanliness that’s fresh along with a beautiful pure expression of fruit and bee pollen. That this wine is made from a Chardonnay grape is present in this wine. 

Pairing: Both of us went straight to the mushroom brie on the warm Tuscan bread and we were not disappointed; it was amazing together. Great with the Coppa, very rich together, the Chardonnay appreciates the fattiness in the meat. We were both blown away with how fantastic the Chardonnay was with the truffled pecorino bringing out lovely fruit in the wine and enhancing the earthen characteristics of the cheese. The biodynamic funky aged Foradori mountain cow’s milk was also an unexpected pleasure for the evening. The Chardonnay cuts through the funky earthen rind of the cheese and takes it home to mama. With the Albarino, this cheese brought more of the herbal flavors in the wine, but the Chardonnay is perfect with the richness of the dish. Marshall just liked the taste of this wine with the seafood soup but could not define exactly why; could just be that he really really likes how Bruce makes wine, which is surprising because Marshall is a wine drinker not a beer drinker– except for Bruce’s wines! The Chardonnay stands up to the rich soup, as the wine is strong and the soup is strong and both together work together to make a rich strong meal. Fantastic especially with the rich creamy fresh mussel in the soup, oh so so good. No wonder I can’t keep a bottle of this wine in my house for long!

Clos des Amis GSM

2021 Clos des Amis GSM, Ventura County, California

ABV: 13.6%
SRP: $24
Grapes: 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre

The blend changes every vintage depending on what the vintage has to offer. This one is my favorite yet! I love the match of the bright Grenache with the more earthy Mourvedre and the blue fruit and peppery notes of the syrah are also grounding in the blend.

Appearance:  Ruby, pink rim, looks youthful and fresh, medium density

Aroma: Ripe raspberry, ripe blueberry, cinnamon, florals, lavender, sage, 

Palate: Tart cherry fruit, ripe fruit, phenolic ripeness, dry chaparral on the finish, very expressive of place, the Rhone region has garrigue, and we have chapparrall, they have the mistral wine and we have the Santa Anas. Bold tannins remain on the palate for a good long time, lively acidity, well structured wine, very balanced, lots of salinity. I love this vintage of this wine!

Pairing: Many of the cheeses on the plate were quite strong cheeses. The GSM was beautiful with the mushroom brie loving the creaminess of the brie and the earthiness of the mushroom. The truffled pecorino was a bit too overpowering for the wine. The Foradori cheese was nice with the wine the vitality and earthiness of the cheese brought out nice fruit in the wine. Perfect with the spicy Coppa Italian cured meat. Each make each other shine. The GSM is perfect with the seafood stew. Both together are light and bright and juicy and both enhance the other. 

Read more about local wine and local food from these wine writers: 

You’re invited to join Wine Pairing Weekend for Earth Month by writing an article this week and/or participating in our chat Sat. April 8. Read how to join in the invite here.

You’re invited to join our twitter chat Saturday April 8 at 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #WinePW.

Here’s the discussion questions:

    Q1 Good morning! Welcome to the April Wine Pairing Weekend  chat on Local Wine, Local Food. Say hi, introduce yourself, share a selfie, and a link to your blog if you want. Remember to use the #WinePW hashtag. Discussion questions here:
  • 8:05 Q2 Today’s #WinePW chat celebrates Local Wine and Local Food. Was it challenging to find a wine to write about? Read the invitation here:
  • 8:10a Q3 Which local wine did you choose to write about and what region is it from? Why did you choose it? #WinePW
  • 8:15 Q4 In five words, can you describe your #WinePW tasting experience? Please share the link to your Local Food, Local Wine article with us so we can read all about it! 
  • 8:20 Q5 Tell us more about the winery or the wine!  Are they certified #organic or #biodynamic? What makes them local to you? Please share photographs if you have them! #WinePW
  • 8:25 Q6 Tell us about the local food you prepared to pair with your Local Wine. Share with us the pairing, pictures, recipe link if you have one. What does local mean to you and why did you choose this pairing? #WinePw 
  • 8:30 Q7 Did you find the pairing successful? Why or why not? What did you learn? How would you pair the wine a second time around? #WinePW
  • 8:35 Q8 What else did you learn about Local Wine or Local Food: the winery, the wine, or the region that you would like to share? #WinePW
  • 8:40 Q9 Have you visited the winery? If so, please share fun facts and photos about the trip!  If you haven’t gone yet, why is it on your bucket list or do you wish to return? Highlights for you? #WinePW
  • 8:45 Q10  According to research, certified #organic and #biodynamic wines score higher making them better for ME and WE! Details: Are organic, biodynamic or sustainable wines important to you? why? Have you observed differences? #WinePW
  • 8:50 Q11 Any last comments or questions about Local Wine or Local Food? Other local wineries to recommend?  #WinePW 
  • 8:55 Shoutout to those who participated today: @WendyKlik  @culinary_cam  @cookingchat. Thanks for participating with host @ArtPredator! #SlowWineGuide #WinePW
  • 9a Thank you for joining us for our #WinePW #LocalWine #LocalFood #EarthMonth chat today! Find links to our articles here: Please join us the second Saturday in May for wines from Livermore with @cookingchat.

In January 2019, I first ventured out to help at Clos des Amis, located on South Mountain above the Santa Clara River in Ventura County. Read more about Clos des Amis and Ventura County wineries and vineyards in this mostly once a monthly series that I did for three years covering the cycles in the vineyard and cellar with the oldest posts at the bottom:


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