Under the Radar Regions: Ventura County says Ghost Wineries Be Gone!

a selection of wines from grapes grown in Ventura County by several Ventura County wineries

Until December 2017’s Thomas Fire that struck Ventura County with a vengeance making it the largest fire in California’s history, most people didn’t know where Ventura County was. I’d tell people we were located north of Los Angeles and south of Santa Barbara — two well known regions, and one of them, Santa Barbara, very well known for wine.

But Ventura County has a long history of flowers, seeds, citrus and more agricultural abundance — including wine grapes.

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#WinePW: Along “The Way” with Wine and Food from Navarra Spain

Navarra is an up and coming wine region in Northern Spain located in the western part of the Pyrenees Mountains that form a natural boundary between France and Spain with the Basque mountains further to the West. Navarra butts up against France to the north and to the south is Rioja, famous for Tempranillo. Continue reading

Wine from Navarra: Preview of #WinePW Camino plus Ochoa Reserva

This month, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew become Pilgrims on a sacred journey this April to Navarra, Spain, home to the Camino de Santiago as well as a cuisine that pairs heavenly with the region’s wines! Here’s the invitation to participate.

The famous “Way” travels from many points in Europe with most of them converging in Navarra, Spain, the focus of this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend which includes posts published this Saturday April 14 and a twitter chat that morning at 8am PST.

Navarra’s history is intertwined with the Camino de Santiago which leads to the shrine of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela, located about 400 walking miles to west, in the coastal province of Galicia, home to Albarino (read about nine meals to pair with Albarino). Pilgrims returned from the Camino bearing stories about the wonderful wine in Navarra; Rioja, just west of Navarra, became famous this way also (read about two from Rioja).

Read more about these two Garnacha from Navarra in the invite post.

Please join us as we explore this region of Spain; food ideas here. Many of us received a variety of samples from Wines of Navarra for which we are grateful. To prepare us further, Sue and I opened a sample of a 2008 Ochoa Reserva from a single vineyard which we paired with osso bucco.  Read on to learn more!

What did the Wine Pairing Weekend Pilgrims do with Navarra Wine?
Here’s a preview of the posts you can expect to find by Saturday morning, April 14:

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Grateful for Good Gifts, Good Stories with Wineries from Napa #WinePW

Joy to the World– Grateful for the Gift of Good Wine and Good Stories: From one fire to another

If you ask me, it’s stories that make us humans, stories that help us make meaning, stories that help us connect and care for each other. And so if you are looking for a wine for a gift this holiday season, I would choose one with a good story. Here’s one of mine.

When I was a little girl, there was a fire in Ondulando, a neighborhood above ours on the east end of Ventura. I’m not too sure how big it was but that fire had a huge impact on me. We all stood in the street in awe watching it burn.  Seeing the orange glow on the hillsides seemed more threatening to me and my home and my family than it actually was.

Following the fire, at certain times of the year when the light would hit windows on the hillsides just right, they would glow red and it would strike terror in my heart — I was sure there was another fire and I was surprised that no one was alarmed.

wearing my N95 Particulate Respirator on Day 2 of the #ThomasFire

A few days ago, that fire I feared as a child hit for real.

The Thomas Fire started at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and fueled forward by fierce winds, flames raced toward Ventura at times gobbling an acre a second until it reached Ondulando and beyond.  I heard the dispatch call out addresses and I pictured the streets where my friends grew up– and where friends live today.

I could imagine only too well what it looked like from my childhood home because I could see that fire as it spread to the hillside where my grandfather built his house– and his wine cellar not far from where I live today, a block away from the mandatory evacuation zone which was just lifted and two blocks from where it still is.,

The wind was and continues to be terrible, with hurricane force winds of 80 to 100 miles an hour driving the fire to consume almost 50k acres that first night, and now, while less intense, the winds are erratic, less predictable, ever dangerous. Until the wind dies down, it will be impossible for them to contain this fire. With no rain in sight, they are saying it may burn until Christmas or even the New Year.

Screen shot from an ArcGIS map showing the Thomas Fire burn area Dec. 7 2017

As of this writing, nearly 150k acres have burned with 500 structures destroyed including homes belonging to a dozen or more friends as well as former students who met in my creative writing class over 15 years ago.

the house of a childhood friend of mine, Suzanne Henthorn; here’s her GoFundMe page if you can help: https://www.gofundme.com/suzannes-fire-relief-fund

In my county, over 100k people have been evacuated from their homes in the previous few days. I know more people who have been evacuated than I know who have not been evacuated.

And this fire as well as a spate of fires in Southern California will be part of a Federal Disaster area. Already the resources are driving and flying in.

We are the lucky ones, able to stay in our homes, power flickering, non-potable water flowing, our VW van ready for us to escape into, a comfortable home away from home. We are safe save from the smoky air… and cabin fever. Minor inconveniences really in the big picture.

Sue also was lucky: she lives in a voluntary evacuation zone so she was also able to stay home even though at times all of the roads around us were closed due to fire. Above are a few of the photos Sue’s partner John Walsh shared; these were taken from their house in Meiners Oaks which is in the Ojai Valley — the inlet of green in the sea of browned lands in the map above.

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#MerlotMe with 3 from Sonoma and Colorful Fall Squash Pasta #WinePW

#MerlotMe love with wine from Sonoma paired with a simple squash and sausage pasta dish and a chard with apple and pomegranate salad

“I’ve got this one squash I’d like to use for our pasta,” says Sue on the drive from my house on the coast to hers in Ojai, “and I need help getting it cut out of the fence.”

It actually took three of us because I was busy taking photos, but Sue and Barry wrestled that squash out of the fence and Sue got it roasting because squash and merlot are a match made in heaven, and October is #MerlotMe time! Continue reading

A Preview of Portugal: Wine, Cuisine, and Travel With #WinePW

a few of the Portuguese wines and foods we enjoyed for September’s #WinePW ‘s focus on Portugal

There is so much more to PORTUGAL than PORT Wine!
Discover our stories about Portugal this Saturday, September 9th when, by 8am PST, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew will publish posts about Portuguese wine and then head to twitter to share our choices and tell the stories behind them (hashtag = #WinePW).

Food and travel are always a part of the chat, so join us for all the doors that Portuguese  wine can open. And we’d love to have participation from people who live in Portugal too!

This month, the Wine Pairing Weekend crew includes:

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